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Aquatic Plant Survey of Elk Lake

Quarterly Newsletter, Fall 2016
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British Columbia Lake Stewardship Society
Furthering Lake Stewardship Through Education & Communication

Aquatic Plant Survey of Elk Lake

By Lisa Rodgers (CRD) and Rick Nordin (BCLSS)
Aquatic plants are an essential component of lake ecosystems. However, plant populations can become excessive and problematic due to water disturbances. At Elk/Beaver Lake near Victoria, swimmers, boaters, fishermen, and rowers (Elk Lake is the home base of the National Rowing Team) complain of heavy plant growth. On September 24th, 2016, the Capital Regional District (CRD) conducted an aquatic plant workshop and survey.  They are in partnership with the BC Lake Stewardship Society (BCLSS), Victoria Golden Rods, Reels Fishing and the Social Club.  Concerned participants included, Rick Nordin (BCLSS) and 17 volunteers from 11 groups.

The University of Victoria Rowing Club made four boats available for volunteers performing the aquatic plant survey.  The volunteers performed two survey transects and all of the eight transects in various parts of the lake.

In addition, in 1985 the Ministry of Environment conducted the last aquatic plant survey of the lake.  Identified are sixty different aquatic plant species.  Plus, the September 2016 survey identifies open water aquatic plants, ten emergent, and submerged.

Aquatic Plants

Aquatic plants are present from the shoreline to a 3 metre depth in both Elk and Beaver Lakes. Water-milfoil (Myriophyllum) is by far the most dense and dominant plant species found.  Included is the native whorled water-milfoil; the non-native Eurasian water-milfoil; and a hybrid cross of the two species. The presence of Eurasian water-milfoil is of greatest concern. This plant appears to have hybridized with the native water-milfoil and accounts for 90% of the coverage by aquatic plants. The extensive coverage by water-milfoil is the sole reason aquatic weed harvesting is necessary. Eurasian water-milfoil has not previously been identified in Elk Lake or other lakes in Victoria. Coontail is the second-most dominant aquatic plant, and accounts for up to 50% cover along some transects, but overall coverage was much less than the water-milfoils.

Dominant shoreline plants identified during the survey include; bulrush; broad-leaved cattail; water shield (Brasenia); yellow water-lily (Nuphar); and the introduced water lily (Nymphaea).  A few other plant species are identified in lower quantities.

The survey is designed to provide information on the species present, in the lake, and their distribution and density. Plus to serve as a point of reference for future surveys to document changes.

2016 Secchi Dip-In.

The annual Secchi Dip-In, the volunteer-based North American initiative, took place during Lakes Appreciation Month, from July 1st to 31st. Data collected through the Secchi Dip-In provides worldwide information on water quality trends as they relate to water transparency. The variation of water transparency provides information on water quality and how it is affected by water type, regional geography, and land use. For further information, visit the Secchi Dip-In website at www.secchidipin.org/.

British Columbia’s Dip-In Participation

Since 2002, the BC Lake Stewardship Society has coordinated BC’s participation in the North America-wide annual Secchi Dip-In. The general trend since 2009 sees a drop in volunteer participation. Participation reached its peak in 2008 when there was 116 dips on 75 lakes. This year, 29 volunteers complete 53 dips on 30 lakes, which is the second lowest number on record. The BCLSS would like to increase the number of lakes and dippers participating – please help us spread the word about this valuable and fun event!

Temperature and pH

This year,  temperature readings for 22 lakes and pH readings for 4 are received. Last year  30 lakes with temperature readings and 9 with pH readings were received.

This year, the coldest readings were from Paska Lake and Gun Lake, both in the Thompson-Nicola region, at 16°C. The warmest reading was 25°C at Quamichan Lake (Vancouver Island region). Continuous long-term collection of this data can provide us with valuable information about climate change and water quality trends.

Clearest Lake in BC

The deepest Secchi reading record is at Gun Lake in the Thompson-Nicola region at 21.4 m. This is the fifth consecutive year that Gun Lake is the clearest of the lakes sampled during the Dip-In period.

What Does the Secchi Disc Tell Us?

The Secchi disc gives us a reading of water transparency according to the depth of the measurement. The volume of suspended particles contained in the lake water affects transparency. These suspended particles can be a combination of things such as zooplankton, algae, pollutants, and silt. Secchi data collected year after year provides valuable information on trends in transparency for monitored lakes. Every lake is different in size, shape, depth and geography, and each has its own combination of particles. Each Secchi reading provides a “snapshot” of the water quality in the lake at that particular time.

What Can Cause Changes in the Secchi Reading?
Readings showing a trend of decreasing depth during the Dip-In (in the summer) may be the result of one or more of the following factors:
Environmental variability associated with annual climatic variation
Higher nutrient levels that increase algal growth
Erosion of the shoreline or erosion from site development near the lake
Recirculation of bottom sediment from motorboat activity
Discolouration of the water from wetland runoff and/or plant decomposition
Reduced zooplankton populations.
Additionally, most lakes experience an increase in boat activity on weekends and holidays. Taking a Secchi reading after a weekend or holiday may show different results than a reading taken at a different time of the week. This can reveal the effect increased boat activity has on the transparency of a lake. Significant storm events, storm water runoff, and turnover can also alter Secchi readings.

Readings that show a trend of increasing depth can be the result of one or more of the following:
Environmental variability associated with annual climatic variation
Low nutrient levels, which can decrease algal growth (lower productivity of the lake)
Little or no mixing of the lake water (sediments settle to the bottom).
The effects over time of shoreline restoration – clarity may increase if shoreline enhancement projects have been accomplished and consequently erosion and/or pollution sources have decreased
Increased zooplankton populations
Become a Dipper!
Please consider participating in the 2017 Dip-In to help us obtain important data on British Columbia’s lakes to ensure that they remain healthy. Information will be sent out in the Spring.

Spotlight: Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable
As the BCLSS office is currently based out of Coquitlam, we would like to highlight one of our local watershed groups: The Coquitlam River Watershed Rountable.

The Roundtable was founded in 2011 and consists of concerned stakeholders and residents in the watershed and is administratively supported by a multi-sector Core Committee. The Roundtable coordinates and implements activities that promote the health and long-term sustainability of the watershed.

The Coquitlam River watershed is located on the north shore of the Fraser River’s lower reach in the Lower Mainland region, within the traditional territory of the Kwikiwetlem First Nation. The Coquitlam Lake Reservoir Dam divides the watershed; north of the dam is undeveloped wilderness and south of the dam is urban development – the Cities of Coquitlam and Port CoquitlaCraig Orr, member of the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable Core Committee and conservation advisor, recently had a piece published in the local newspaper, the Tri-City News. The article discusses “The Healthy Trinity” and the interconnectedness of watershed, human, and salmon health.

What stands out in this article is the emphasis of working towards a healthy watershed. It means promoting clean water; sustainable development; resource management; and protecting habitat.  It also means promoting human health and well-being. Human well-being components are key to the Round table’s broader values, for the watershed.  These components are an important component of the organization’s discussions from the beginning (see their Mission and Values).

The Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable also always strives to incorporate human well-being activities such as yoga and art at community events, expanding the conversation to be about more than just the natural environment. The Roundtable Core Committee also has representatives from the Arts & Culture and Education sectors, so have those important perspectives reflected in their main administrative body.

For more information on the Coquitlam River Watershed Roundtable, please go to www.coquitlamriverwatershed.ca.

For another article by Craig Orr about ecosystem services and human well-being, please click here.
Welcome New Directors!
Upcoming Events
On September 20th, 2016, Hamish Kassa and Emily Gutenberg are unanimously appointed to the BCLSS Board of Directors.

Hamish Kassa is the Environmental Services Coordinator for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD). He currently manages the Eurasian Water Milfoil Control Program, the region’s mosquito control programs, the Noxious Weed Control Program, groundwater monitoring functions, and inspections and maintenance of CSRD dikes.

Hamish is the current Chair of the Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society, Chair of the Canadian Columbia Basin Invasive Species Steering Committee, Technical Representative for the Shuswap Watershed Council, as well as past Director of the Western Aquatic Plant Management Society and Canadian Association of Nordic Skiers BC.

Hamish has previous career experience with the Okanagan Basin Water Board, Ministry of Environment, Taranaki Catchment Commission, and the North Okanagan Regional District in a variety of positions related to water quality, protection, management, and invasive species.

He also has extensive underwater experience logging more than 4000 hours on SCUBA as well as receiving underwater photography awards while working in New Zealand. During the winter, Hamish is found sliding on fluffy powder snow with friends and family.

Emily Gutenberg is a young, aspiring environmental professional in Metro Vancouver. After she obtained her B.A. in Communica-tions from SFU, she worked as the Communications Coordinator at the Alouette River Management Society (ARMS) in Maple Ridge, B.C. Although she has since decided to return to school full-time, she currently sits on the board of directors at ARMS where she is both a member of the Personnel Committee (creating staff and Human Resources policies) and the chair of the Membership Committee (developing membership and marketing strategies).

Emily is currently completing a diploma in Environmental Protection Technology at Kwantlen University while also working on a diploma in ecological restoration at the University of Victoria by distance education in her spare time. Emily is passionate about community empowerment through environmental education, and is especially interested in the wildland-urban interface.
Welcome Hamish and Emily!
Adopt-A-Watershed: Urban Leadership in Aquatic Invasive Species Workshop.Invasive Species Council of BC. Kamloops, November16th, 2016. More information here.

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. Check events in your area here.

Hyde Creek Salmon Festival. Hyde Creek Education Centre and Hatchery. Port Coquitlam, November 13th, 2016. More information here or at www.hydecreek.org.

The Social Life of Water in the Okanagan Valley: An Exhibition. Okanagan Heritage Museum. Opened October 7th, 2016. Learn more here.

Green Infrastructure Workshop. Kelowna. November 9th, 2016. Details here.

Traces Upon the Landscape: Exploring the Poetic Dimensions of Water. Kelowna. December 5th, 2016. Details here.

The 2017 Children & Nature International Conference. Children & Nature Network. Vancouver, April 18th -21st, 2017. Learn more.

If you would like your event listed in our quarterly newsletter or Loonie News, please contact us at info@bclss.org.
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