In June of this year, we announced that the Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA) had initiated a second stage water quality monitoring program to assist in determining whether remedial action was required at specific locations in Muskoka where elevated levels of Escherichia coli (E. coli) had been identified in our waterways. One particular area of concern was Wallace Bay, Lake Rosseau in Minett, which tested high, in a number of cases, for E. Coli in 2013 and 2014.
To date, Beacon Environmental, our scientific partner, has sampled four near-shore stations in Wallace Bay on nine separate occasions between May 26 and August 11.
Beacon is analyzing samples for total coliform and Escherichia coli (E. coli), elevated levels of which could indicate fecal contamination, and total phosphorus, which reflects overall ecological health of the system. With respect to the bacterial parameters, our study follows the methodology recommended in the Provincial Water Quality Objectives (PWQO) of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) for public swimming beaches. This model is based on a geometric mean of levels of E. coli determined from a minimum of five samples per site, collected within a 30 day period. If the geometric mean for a sample series at a given site exceeds 100 cfu (colonies of E. coli) per 100 millilitres (ml), the site is considered to be unsuitable for recreational water use.
The geometric mean of the E. coli levels at each of the stations tested to date were between 5 and 50 cfu /100ml which is below the PWQO threshold of 100 cfu/100ml. (The MLA considers a count of 10 cfu/100ml or less to be naturally occurring in Muskoka, and a count of 50 cfu/100 ml as an indicator that additional testing is required). By mid-September we will have collected three additional samples and we expect to receive a final report from Beacon Environmental by mid-November, at which time, we will provide our members with an update on the results.
In the spring of 2015 we requested your help to raise funds to offset the cost of this study, and to enhance our regular water quality monitoring program in other areas of concern. We are pleased to report that we are close to achieving our goal, thanks to the generosity and concern of our members who responded to this particular request and those who have consistently supported the program over the past 14 years. Contributions are still being accepted and tax receipts will be issued for all donations to our water quality program.
Thank you for your continued support and enjoy the rest of your summer in Muskoka!