Volunteer Lake Monitoring Methods and Resources

Example of Water Testing Equipment

General instructions are provided as per the order of the field sampling forms. Download the field sheet related to your monitoring activity:

  1. Level 1 - 2 monitoring field sheet (.PDF)
  2. Level 3 monitoring field sheet (.XLSX)
  3. Lake profile field sheet (.XLSX)

Please note: not all volunteer programs will be required to collect all sample parameters. Instructions are listed below and are also available as a printable PDF file.

General sampling instructions

Lake name/basin name: include on each sheet.  Use one sheet per sampling date, multiple basins/sampling sites can be listed on each sheet as long as they are collected on the same date.

Samplers' initials:  initials of those involved in the day's sampling.

Date:  based on pre-determined sampling frequency. DO NOT SAMPLE on Thurs pm, Friday, or Saturday.

Time:  between 10 am and 2 pm gives the best Secchi disk readings.

Follow map to site:  important that the true deep station be sampled so that seasonal trends in the near bottom water quality can be determined.  Can also use a GPS or depth sounder.

Site depth by secchi rope (m):  before anchoring, check lake depth with calibrated rope, secchi rope or depth sounder.  Record depth to nearest 0.1 m.  Or establish permanent buoy.  This will allow "bottom-1 m" sample to be collected at correct depth relative to the bottom. 

Drop anchor:  Allow boat to swing away from the bottom sediment disturbance caused by dropping anchor.  Or, if very calm, anchoring may not be necessary.

Weather conditions:  Important for Secchi readings.  Refer to Field Sampling Form.

Air temp: Use either a thermometer or the water sampler. If using the water sampler, measure this parameter before getting the sampler wet.  Open sampler for air flow and place in shaded area.

Secchi disk depth:  Refer to separate Water Clarity Protocol instructions.  Read secchi while sitting, without sunglasses or hat, off shady side of boat, preferably between 10 am and 2 pm.

Chlorophyll at 0.5 m:  Use 2 x black 250 mL bottles.  Fill in the blanks of the attached label or label the bottle with lake, date, time, depth and sampler initials.  Collect sample at arm's length over the side of the boat. 

Water Collection:  For water collection from any depth set sampler, ensuring misfire will not occur, lower sampler to desired depth, sway rope to exchange water in sample (if using a horizontal sampler), drop messenger, retrieve sampler.

Temperature at 0.5 m, mid-depth or bottom-1 m:  the FIRST measurement upon retrieving the sampler is measurement and recording of water temperature to nearest 0.5 oC. 

Oxygen at 0.5 m, mid-depth or bottom-1 mCAREFULLY siphon contents of sampler into 60 mL glass oxygen bottle, allowing most of contents of sampler to overflow glass bottle.  Remove hose from glass bottle before bubbles are introduced to sample.  (Bubbles will occur initially, but will be forced out).  Follow specific Dissolved Oxygen Test Instructions.

Phosphorus sample at 0.5 m, mid-depth or bottom-1 m:  Label small poly bottles with lake, date, time, depth, sampler initials, or fill in the blanks of the attached label.  All poly bottles can be labelled with the same time, as sample depth will differentiate each bottle.  Collect sample of water, filling to bottom of neck of small ploy bottle.  Store in dark at 4 oC.

Odour at 0.5 m, mid-depth or bottom-1 m:  smell water in sampler for odour.  Nil, organic, sulphur (rotten eggs), metallic, etc are some descriptors.

Water colour at 0.5 m, mid-depth or bottom-1 m:  Observe water colour in sampler preferably against a white backdrop.  Clear, green, brown, cloudy, etc are some descriptors.

Depth of mid-depth and bottom-1 m samples: to nearest 0.1 m.  These will change as lake shallows through low water periods.  Bottom sample is collected at 1m above bottom, i.e.: bottom-1m. 

Quality assurance 

A quality assurance component will be included in all lake programs.  Through field duplicate and blind blank submissions, overall sample accuracy and precision can be assessed.  Five small poly bottles will should be used at each site for each day of sampling, allowing the collection of three regular samples, a duplicate phosphorus sample from one of the sample depths and a blind blank. 

The duplicate can be collected from any one of the three sample depths and the depth from which it is collected can be changed from sample day to sample day.  Label sample time on the duplicate 1 minute AFTER regular samples.  Label sample depth of the duplicate on both the bottle and on the field data form.

The Ministry will also include a blind blank component in each volunteer lake program.  Bulk DI water will be provided to each lake group.  During every sample trip fill a fifth small poly bottle with DI water for a blind blank.  Do not allow contact with lake water.  Label sample time on the blind blank 2 minutes AFTER regular samples and label depth as well.  Depth can be surface, mid-depth or bottom, ie: 0.5 m, 4 m, or 8 m.

So, the volunteer bottles used for one day, including a duplicate, blind blank and equipment blank might then be labelled as follows:

EXAMPLE: Volunteer bottle labeling chart
Test Lake Name

(yy/mm/dd hh:mm)

Depth (m) Sampler Initials
Tabor Lake @ Deep Station 08-05-21  13:30 0.5 KH/GW
Phosphorus (surface) Tabor Lake @ Deep Station 08-05-21  13:30     0.5 KH/GW
Phosphorus (mid-depth) Tabor Lake @ Deep Station 08-05-21  13:30 4.0 KH/GW
Phosphorus (bottom) Tabor Lake @ Deep Station 08-05-21  13:30 8.0 KH/GW
Replicate (any depth) Tabor Lake @ Nimbus Bay 08-05-21  13:31 0.5 KH/GW
Blind Blank (any depth) Tabor Lake @ Nimbus Bay 08-05-21  13:32 4.0 KH/GW

Field Observations:  Any related observations noted while travelling to or while sampling at the station.  This may include: algal blooms, surface slicks, debris, pollen, zooplankton, fish kills, recent storm or high wind events, fishing derby’s, water skiing competitions, etc.

Any questions regarding this program can be directed to the Aquatic Stewardship Coordinator: email: volunteerlakes@gov.bc.ca

Last Updated May 2020