In 2017, ALMS received funding from the Beaver River Watershed Alliance through the Lakeland Industry and Community Association (LICA), the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance, the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association, Cargill, Alberta Environment and Parks, the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association, and the Jackfish Lake Management Association, to conduct LakeWatch, a volunteer based water quality monitoring program.
Data presented below has not completed its final validation process.
The LakeWatch Program Coordinator (Laura Redmond) worked alongside two summer field technicians (Elashia Young and Melissa Risto) to conduct lake sampling during the summer of 2017. Each lake was to be visited four or five times throughout the summer, and, in 2017, 135 of 145 scheduled trips were completed. This resulted in a completion rate of 94% (Table 1). Missed trips were a result of volunteer availability and unsafe weather.
In 2017, two Long Lakes were monitored. Throughout the report, the Long Lake southeast of Athabasca will be referred to as Long Lake, and the Long Lake south of Boyle with the Provincial Park on its western shore will be referred to as Long PP.
Table 1: The LakeWatch sample completion record for 2017. Asteriks represent lakes which had only four planned sample trips.
In 2017, ALMS worked with 45 unique volunteers for a total of 486 volunteer hours spent sampling lakes. Each year, ALMS recognizes one volunteer who has shown outstanding dedication and commitment to the LakeWatch program over the years. This year, Orest Kitt of Skeleton Lake North was presented with the LakeWatch Volunteer of the Year Award. Orest has volunteered with the LakeWatch Program for nearly 13 years.
While ALMS collects a large suite of water chemistry parameters, this report will attempt to highlight the variability which exists across only a few of our major parameters: Secchi Depth, Total Phosphorus, Chlorophyll-a, and Microcystin. The variation within these parameters does not necessarily reflect a degree of lake management, for many factors outside of human control also impact lake water quality. The depth of the lake, the size of the drainage basin, lake order, and the composition of bedrock and sediment are just some of the factors which affect lake water quality and should be taken into consideration when reading these results.
Average Secchi depth across 2017 lakes ranged from a minimum of 0.30 m in Antler Lake to a maximum of 5.70 m in Gleniffer Lake. Secchi depth only slightly correlated with chlorophyll-a (r= -0.56, p-value= 8.6×10-19) indicating that on average, Secchi depth decreased with increasing algal biomass. However, this relationship is not strong.
Average Total phosphorus (TP) ranged from 4.0 μg/L in Gleniffer Lake to 412 μg/L in Antler Lake. LakeWatch lakes of 2017 were classified as oligotrophic to hypereutrophic.
Average total phosphorus (TP) and average chlorophyll-a were significantly correlated (r= 0.97, p-value= 2.29 x 10-3) indicating that algal biomass was related to total phosphorus concentrations.In some cases, this relationship is more complicated. For example, Miquelon Lake has high TP concentrations but low Chlorophyll-a concentrations because its brackish waters inhibits most algae growth.
Average chlorophyll-a concentrations ranged from a minimum of 0.95 μg/L in Gleniffer Lake to 238 μg/L in Antler Lake (Figure 3).
Average microcystin concentrations remained below the recreational guideline of 20 μg/L. However, Antler Lake had a microcystin concentration of 41 μg/L on August 23, more than double the recreational guideline. Garner Lake and Haunted Lake microcystin levels were also above the guideline on August 29 and August 16, respectively. Microcystin levels were minimal in Gleniffer, Long, Narrow, Touchwood and Skeleton North as each of these lakes fell below the detection limit.
A detailed data summary of each lake sampled will be published in the Spring of 2018 in the LakeWatch reports section of our website.