Back in the 1990s, Dr. Tim Keilty started a water quality program when he realized that credible strategies that have a valid and strong scientific foundation were needed to protect these important resources. This program was designed to provide baseline and long-term water quality data. Today the program and database are hosted and supported by the Leelanau Conservancy. The database provides an overview of trends over time.
CE Manager Chase Heise is currently in charge of our water quality program. Below he answers some common questions about the program.
How many streams and lakes do we monitor? We sample 19 streams and 7 lakes—once per month from May to October.
How does the water quality look as of last year? The Leelanau Conservancy’s goal is to gather and observe data over a long period of time, as opposed to drawing conclusions from a single year. Overall trends show the lakes in our region to be oligotrophic and indicative of very good water quality. You’ll recognize these oligotrophic lakes as being clean and clear with high levels of oxygen and low in plant nutrients.
What do we sample in a stream vs a lake? In streams we use a flow meter to calculate the discharge at that particular time, as well as record the air and water temperatures. We also take a physical water sample, which is analyzed in a laboratory for total phosphorus. For lakes we monitor for a large number of parameters at multiple depths utilizing our Hydrolab, which is a specialized piece of sampling equipment. At each lake we record dissolved oxygen (DO), pH (acidity), oxidation reduction potential (ORP), and conductivity. Water clarity is measured using a Secchi disk. We also take physical water samples at multiple depths to be analyzed for nitrogen and total phosphorus, as well as a filtered surface sample of Chlorophyll A. Each of these measurements help us determine the health of the lake over time.
How much water quality data do we have? Who can access it?
We currently have more than 30 years of water quality data dating back to 1991, the longest-running data set in the county. It has been utilized by many lake
associations, local and national government agencies, as well as private individuals. Anyone can access our water quality data on our website, which is available in Excel format.
Can I get involved with the Conservancy’s water quality program?
Each year we recruit new members to be part of our stream-sampling program. These dedicated volunteers are trained on our equipment and collection methods, and independently sample their assigned streams once a month throughout the sampling season. Those interested can contact our volunteer and events manager, Lindy Kellogg at [email protected]