The 2013 Lake Windermere water quality results are now in! Our report includes the details about our lake’s water this year.
The summer of 2013 brought a heavy load of sediment into the lake after major rain storms. Two measures of water clarity (turbidity and Secchi depth) showed the lake to be exceptionally cloudy in 2013. The high turbidity was observed during sampling events on June 26th and July 2nd, 2013. This high turbidity followed heavy rain storms on June 21 and 22. The same weather event that led to these turbidity levels caused serious flooding in Calgary and road washouts throughout the East Kootenays.
Also of note in 2013 were several tests showing high phosphorus levels. Phosphorus is a nutrient that is usually found in limited quantities in natural lakes. In high quantities it leads to algae blooms. Past results from sampling for phosphorus indicate that Lake Windermere is “oligotrophic.” This means that low nutrient levels and clear waters have been the norm in this lake. Given the fact that this important nutrient was found to occur in high levels throughout the lake at all three sampling sites in late August 2013, increased vigilence in watching nutrient levels in the lake is warrented.
In 2013, the Lake Windermere Ambassadors initiated a special study on the water entering Lake Windermere from the District of Invermere’s main stormwater outlet. The stormwater system in Invermere collects water from all of the downtown area and some of the residential area, delivering it to an outlet just north of the Bayshore Condos (location map below). The beach where the outlet is present is a popular boat launch area in the summer and a popular ice-fishing area in the winter. Thus, the quality of the water entering the lake at that point is important to users of the immediate beach environment as well as the general quality of the lake. The results suggest potential threats to freshwater life from aluminum, arsenic, cobalt, copper, iron, lead, manganese and zinc entering the lake through this stormwater outlet.
On a positive note, 2013 water testing revealed that the lake maintained low temperatures and high oxygen levels needed for aquatic life.
Thank you to all of the great volunteers who made this summer’s water monitoring program possible! Thanks also the the Local Conservation Fund and District of Invermere for providing financial support.