Water Quality Monitoring

Successful Lake management plans that deliver sustainably results must be data driven. Understanding your water quality is important because it varies throughout the day, day-to-day, weekly, monthly (due to weather), and seasonally (due to climate). Many lake managers will design an efficient, cost-effective program that will collect enough data to realize these variations over time.

Depending on the goals of the lake monitoring program and how much is already known about a site’s water quality, the comprehensiveness or duration of the monitoring programs will vary. Monitoring nutrients that supply algae and plant growth is always a first step. Nutrients, such as phosphorus, have a key role and understanding how it fluctuates overtime is essential for developing a site specific plan.

Having an accurate understanding of how nutrients such as phosphorus fluctuates overtime in your pond or water feature due to erosion, storm water runoff and other inputs is an example of a key metric.  It’s important to understand the management solutions you need to be implementing.

Seasonal water quality
Graph from Fondriest Environmental Learning Center

Seasonal Water Quality Monitoring

Winter: collect water quality samples and measure dissolved oxygen depth profiles less frequently when there is less variation in the lake’s water column

Spring: is a good time to increase the frequency of monitoring to observe lake stratification and the development of thermoclines. Taking these measurements from specific locations/depths within the lake will help you better understand how your lake is going to behave as water temperatures increase

Summer: as temperatures start to really heat up and stratification becomes more pronounced routine monitoring of oxygen levels in your lake are essentials. This is an important time to be collecting water samples for analysis from throughout the lake. Collecting this data is necessary to evaluate your management strategies, such as the control of aquatic plant and algae growth.

Fall: most lakes experience the fall turnover, which often leads to algae blooms or potentially fish kill events and a robust monitoring program can help you detect these early and implement proactive measures

Recommended Monitoring Equipment

My preferred brand for sondes is In-Situ as they are competitively priced, reliable, user-friendly, and have good customer service and tech support. I use this manufacturer because their equipment is designed to use Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone/tablet which eliminates the need to buy an additional handheld meter to read and transmit the data.

This saves money and allows you to link GPS signals to your data. You can email, text or upload your data right from the field. No more spending time at your desk downloading and processing data.

Water Quality Equipment

Lake Locker Water Monitoring Videos

Check out my YouTube Channel to watch short videos on tool tips and tricks for lake managers!

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