If you tuned in last month, you likely read that we are in our last Deep Dive of 2021, Our Shared Home. In September we focused on benthic macroinvertebrates who reside in our shared home, this month we will look at the structure of that home, and its ability to support aquatic life.
To start with, while we call Lake Windermere a lake, it is not actually a true lake. Lake Windermere, more accurately, is a widening of the Columbia River, with the head waters downstream to the south in Canal Flats. This unique trait allows for a low water retention rate, contributing to the overall high water quality and oligotrophic nature of Lake Windermere; an oligotrophic lake is one with relatively low productivity due to low nutrient content. Each year the Ambassadors monitor the health of Lake Windermere, just as you inspect your home regularly.
In 2021 we continued our annual monitoring program, checking Lake Windermere’s vital signs – temperature, depth, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, conductivity, and nutrient levels. We have been running this program since 2010; continued monitoring provides great value to understanding the long-term health of Lake Windermere and emerging concerns. Initial analysis of the 2021 data paints a clear photo of the climatic happenings this year. We see the water levels rise in late May as the spring runoff was fed by high elevation snow melt, this is followed by increased turbidity in early June as storms and flooding brought more sediment into the lake. Following this, the water temperatures begin to warm in July, reaching a high of 24 °C, which leads to an increase in algae growth visible to the naked eye in the north end of the lake. Numbers on a spreadsheet may not be as attractive as the picturesque landscape of Lake Windermere, but they do tell a compelling tale.
This is just a quick snapshot into our full annual report on Lake Windermere and it’s ability to provide a healthy home for aquatic life. If you are interested in learning more, join us on Friday October 22nd at James Chabot Provincial Park to Learn About Your Lake.