Water Monitor Volunteers

Going With the Flow: Leelanau Conservancy Volunteer Stream Samplers

Dennis with bottle in stream

Dennis Armbruster collects a water sample from Houdek Creek across the road from Lake Leelanau.

Kim and Dennis Armbruster are part of an important group of volunteers who monitor our lakes and streams every year, collecting data that tells a story about the quality of our water. They are retired; Kim is a trained chemist who worked in air pollution control Dennis was an environmental engineer; both worked for the state of Michigan.

Dennis dons waders and slips into muck on Houdek Creek across the road from N. Lake Leelanau. Kim stands nearby, painstakingly recording in perfect penmanship data such as water flow, temperature and depth. They go out six times a year, monitor 3 streams and collect water samples. It takes about five hours each time. “This is a perfect fit for us,” says Kim. “Although anyone can do it and there’s great training, we like putting skills from our work life to good use. And we love to get outdoors.”

The Leelanau Conservancy has been monitoring seven county lakes and their tributaries (streams) for over 25 years. For the streams, we collect data on Total Phosphorus, to be analyzed at a lab. We also measure temperature and discharge (or flow) on the streams. On the lakes we collect samples at 3 different depths to be analyzed at a lab for Total Phosphorus, Nitrates/Nitrites, Chlorophyll-a. We also gather measurements on temperature, pH, Conductivity, and Dissolved Oxygen at various depths from the surface to the bottom.

Kim Armbruster writing in notebook

Kim Armbruster records data such as rate of stream flow and depth.

The data helps to:

Compare the water quality among various local lakes and streams

–Compare the water quality of local lakes with other lakes in the State

–Detect long-term changes or trends in water quality over time

–Provides data for water quality sections of watershed protection plans

–Develop nutrient budgets for the lakes and watersheds that can be used by public officials as rational water quality planning and management tools

Want to check the stats on the lake that you love? Click here to learn more/check stats. To volunteer, contact Yarrow Brown at ybrown@leelanauconservancy.org.

Posted June, 2016.