Lake Health and Water Quality
A question I get as a waterfront realtor is “What is a healthy lake?” When you are looking at a “Lakes Health” you need to consider the overall well-being of the lake and all the creatures that live in and around the lake including us humans!
Water quality refers to all the characteristics of your lake water, from colour and clarity to bacteria and toxins. There are so many factors to consider in determining lake health and water quality. The best way to do this is to break down water quality to 4 characteristics.
The first characteristic we are going to look at is Physical Characteristics. Physical aspects look at lake colour, transparency and temperatures. Most cottagers or “want to soon own a cottage” dream about the clear blue water on warm summer days. Does this mean if the lake is not blue in colour the lake is unhealthy? The answer is no. The colour of the lake has more to do with the sky, the colour of the lake bottom and what is absorbed in the water and how the uv light reflects off those particles that are absorbed. To see the true colour of water you must eliminate the lake bottom colour, the sky and the suspended particles. To determine quality of water scientists use true colour to determine water quality.
The second Characteristic is Chemical composition. Oxygen content is a consideration. Some bodies of water has oxygen levels at all depths. Lakes that have loads of organic material and bacteria, which use up the oxygen and creates carbon dioxide have little to no oxygen at the bottom. You can tell if you stir up the bottom you will smell rotten egg smell from hydrogen suffice or methane gas. Phosphates and nitrate levels are important as well for nutrients to plants including algae. Many cottage associations may regularly sample the lake looking at Phosphorous and nitrogen levels.
The third Characteristic is Bacteria. There is good bacteria that many species need to maintain good water quality. Certain bacteria are crucial for transforming nutrients such as nitrogen and soulful into forms that plants can use. The bad bacteria cased by human waste or fecal contamination cause sickness or be fatal to humans and animals. Humans waste and household chemicals can devastate a lake or waterbody.
The fourth Characteristic is aquatic creatures. Aquatic creatures have very little tolerance for change in their environment. The presence or absence of aquatic species indicates the water quality and health of a lake.
Love your lake and it will love you back!