Water Quality

Water is so critical to life at the lake that we thought you would be interested in the steps taken to track the health of our water.  Aileen Rapson, our Environment Chair, monitors the water quality of Wood Lake from May to November and provides information to the Dorset Environment Centre.   The results are reported by the District of Muskoka once a year, usually around April.  Click here to see the 2013 data sheet.

1.   Phosphorus: measured annually in May

Phosphorus helps plants in the lake grow, but having too much of it leads to excessive plant growth and a depletion of oxygen levels the fish need to thrive.

A water sample is taken in May to detect phosphorus levels.  The sample is taken in May because this is when the lake water will be the most representative of the phosphorus levels from the spring turn over.

2.   Water Clarity (Secchi depth): measured monthly

A Secchi disk is a round plate that’s painted black and white. The disk is attached to a rope. The rope is lowered into the lake until it’s at a depth where it can no longer be seen. This is called the ‘Secchi depth’. It helps to measures the clarity of the water and the general health of the lake.

Clear water lets light penetrate more deeply into the lake than murky water. Sunlight is needed for the growth of phytoplankton.  Phytoplankton is the basic food source in a lake. It needs sunlight, phosphorus and nitrogen to grow.

3.   Temperature: measured monthly

Temperature affects many aspects of a lake, including:

  • The solubility of oxygen in water
  • The rate of photosynthesis by algae and higher plants
  • The metabolic rates of aquatic organisms
  • The sensitivity of organisms to toxic wastes, parasites and diseases
  •  Life cycle rates of aquatic insects
  • Whether cold-water species or warm-water species are present

The Muskoka Water website provides an explanation of the factors monitored to assess water quality.