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Osoyoos Lake benefits from volunteer lake monitors

Osoyoos Lake benefits from volunteer lake monitors

Sophie Carrigan Gray

Local Journalism Initiative

Osoyoos Lake is one of many lakes throughout the province monitored by a team of volunteer stewards.

The B.C. Lake Monitoring Program is a provincial program operated by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. The program began in 2014 with the aim of better understanding and reporting changes to water quality, according to a press release.

The program is able to monitor 53 last throughout the province thanks to volunteer stewardship groups like the BC Lake Stewardship Society.

“Lakes are important for aquatic life, our wildlife and for people,” said Marge Sidney, board member of the BC Lake Stewardship Society and volunteer lake monitor. She travels to dozens of lakes throughout the spring and summer in her role as a volunteer with the B.C. Lake Monitoring Program.

“If we can work hand-in-hand with the people who live on the lakes and collect data that goes back to the province to add to the database, it’s a win-win situation.” said the retired fisheries biologist in the press release. “The BC Lake Stewardship Society can’t do everything on a lake, but when you have volunteers who care, that is such a valuable asset.”

Osoyoos Lake is part of this program. It is monitored at multiple sites by volunteers from the BC Lake Stewardship Society. The data collected from the monitoring is used to help determine the health of the lake based on physical, chemical and biological components. The data is also used by the province to determine how to best manage and maintain the lake to promote better water and lake quality.

Mike Sokal is the provincial lead for the Long-Term Lake Trends Program for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and a water quality monitoring limnologist. He believes the data collected about lakes and water quality is important to inform how we continue to improve lake quality.

“Lakes are complex ecosystems that are sensitive to a variety of stressors from human development activities and climate change,” he said. “If we can understand how things change over time, then we can figure out what the mechanisms are for that change.”

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