LAKEKEEPERS: EXPANDING COMMUNITY BASED MONITORING OF ALBERTA’S LAKESCategory: 2017, Current, Grant, Major Project, Water
This pilot project aims to address the gaps in lake water quality data that exist in many parts of Alberta. Current monitoring strategies restrict much of the Provincial data to lakes within easy driving distance from Edmonton or Calgary – however, many of Alberta’s invaluable water resources exist outside of this range and as a result have little water quality data. Without water quality data and engaged stakeholders, future stewardship of these lakes is near impossible.
Monitoring of these lakes is required to understand the impacts, pressures, and threats which face these important water resources. In Alberta, eutrophication (nutrient enrichment) and the threat of invasive species represent two of our most pressing water quality issues.
Eutrophication may occur as a result of broad-scale watershed development including recreational development, industrial activity, or agricultural practices. Individuals may also contribute to eutrophication through improper septic and housekeeping practices which contribute nutrient-rich source and non-point source pollution to lake systems. Symptoms of eutrophication include reduced biodiversity, odour, toxicity (e.g. microcystin), and anoxia as a result of harmful algal blooms. Invasive species, in particular the Dreissenid mussels, also pose a significant threat to biodiversity and water quality, and rapid response as a result of early-detection is required to prevent the spread of such threats. Awareness of threats to lake health through monitoring activities is the first step towards prevention and mitigation of negative environmental impacts.
Given these water quality issues, this project will empower citizen scientists to collect information vital to understanding eutrophication and invasive species, including parameters such as water clarity, chlorophyll-a, total phosphorus, and microcystin. In ALMS’ experience, citizen based monitoring improves understanding of environmental data, empowers individuals to take ownership of data, and is the first step towards environmental management.