Love Your Lake contest winner was Brenda Stout, who took this photo, titled Good Night Sweet Lake.

Looking back at a summer of lake sampling on Lake Windermere

Watershed Wandering’s Thea Rodgers on summer testing

By Thea Rodgers

Lake Windermere Ambassadors

Summer has finally loosened its grip on the Columbia Valley. I’ve received many questions about how Lake Windermere has been faring with this hot, dry weather – especially in regards to water temperature.

As a consequence of being hired as Program Coordinator for the Lake Windermere Ambassadors in June of this year, I missed the opportunity to organize spring sampling, and was only able to capture a portion of the season’s water quality data.

As a budding scientist, I find this frustrating. I want to understand as much about the lake as I possibly can, but missing months of data is like missing several chapters from a book that tells the Story of Lake Windermere.

Even so, the data we collected in this short sampling season told an interesting story of its own. Temperature readings collected once per week indicated the water never climbed above 23 degrees on even the hottest days in July, and remained below Ministry of Environment guidelines throughout the summer.

23 degrees is still warm by most lake standards. Temperature influences the physical and chemical properties of water; including how much oxygen the water can hold, and the rate that nutrient cycling occurs.

If the water warms too much, the normal function of aquatic organisms – such as fish, plants, and bacteria – may be compromised. Bodies of water warm up as they become shallower, exposing more of the water column to surface influences of solar radiation and wind.

The warmest recorded temperature in Lake Windermere was 25.1 degrees, measured in July 2006.

This summer marked the 12th year of data collection on Lake Windermere. What started as a lake monitoring initiative in 2005 on behalf of the Lake Windermere Project has since grown into a full-fledged non-profit organization. The Ambassadors have trained more than 90 citizen science volunteers in water quality monitoring since 2010, thanks to continued support from the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund, District of Invermere, and RDEK.

For a closer look at 2017’s water quality data, a comprehensive report will be released in January.

This summer has again shown the lake continues to flow in relatively good health – but not knowing what secrets lay in those “lost chapters” of the spring season, I still wonder what stories that missing data might have told.

For better or for worse, I suppose, I’ll just have to wait until next season to finish the story!

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