Update on Water Quality - October 2017
Earlier this year, the Shuswap Watershed Council published a summary report presenting water quality data collected in the watershed in 2016. The report is available to the public and can be obtained from their website (https://www.fraserbasin.bc.ca/_Library/TR_SWC/2016_shuswap_wq_summary.pdf). Included in the report is a brief interpretation of the data but with the exception of coliform counts at the Sunnybrae Beach area generally water quality is good throughout the lakes.
The following description has been taken from the report:
“Generally, the lower receiving areas of the watershed such as Mara Lake and Salmon Arm Bay have higher concentrations of nutrients than elsewhere in the watershed. This is related to inflows from the Shuswap River and Salmon River, and to a lesser extent Canoe Creek, White Creek, and Tappen Creek. In addition, concentrations of nutrients such as phosphorus as well as chlorophyll a are higher in the warmer growing season (summer and fall) than in the cooler seasons (winter and spring). Even so, much of the phosphorus measurements for Shuswap and Mara Lake are considered low except for Salmon Arm Bay (emphasis added). The upper areas of the watershed such as Mabel Lake, Sugar Lake, and Adams Lake have very low measurements of phosphorus and chlorophyll a. The Shuswap and Salmon River monitoring results vary throughout the year. In addition to surrounding land uses, weather events impact river water quality.“
Remember that earlier studies pointed to increased nutrient levels (nitrates and phosphorous) as the possible causes of the algae blooms that occurred in 2008 and 2010.
The watershed council also received a progress report from the researchers at UBC Okanagan looking into the specific sources of nutrient inputs along the Shuswap and Salmon Rivers. Work to date has tentatively identified the sources of the major areas of nutrient inputs to these rivers and future work will attempt to refine the estimated inputs and the land uses associated with these inputs.