The 2005 MLA Water Quality Initiative results are now available below please download a copy of the Summary or Annual report.
This past summer was again successful, as nearly 100 volunteers helped to collect and analyze samples at 152 sites around the Muskoka Lakes area.
You may recall that the past summer was very warm! In fact, the water temperature was 2.9 degrees Celcius warmer in 2005 than it was in 2004 on average - an increase of more than 10 percent! This had an effect on bacteria readings, because the type of bacteria we look for flourishes at warmer temperatures.
Total Coliforms (the bacteria not necessarily harmful to human health) were approximately three times higher than in 2004, even though E.Coli readings (the part of total Coliforms that can make you sick) increased only slightly at most locations, and actually decreased at three of the 28 locations.
Overall, no serious threats to the safety of recreational users of the lakes were identified in 2005. We will be carefully watching bacteria results in the lakes throughout the 2006 season to ensure that readings return to expected levels, consistent with the temperature.
In most cases, total phosphorus levels were lower in 2005 than they were in 2004, showing that lake ecosystems are generally healthy. Total phosphorus measurements were taken in the middle of Lakes Rosseau, Joseph and Muskoka for the first time in 2005, which will allow the MLA to better compare results of the Water Quality Initiative with results of other programs on Muskoka’s lakes and other lakes across Ontario.
Research focused on the affects that golf course developments have on nearshore water quality. Results indicate that continued research will likely result in conclusive information about golf courses; this research will continue in 2006.