Water Quality Testing
Some LWSS volunteers have been trained in water sampling by the BC Lakes Stewardship Society. MoE, assisted by LWSS, have conducted an incredibly extensive analysis of Lakelse water since July 2002, repeating the 10 lake sites used by McKean in 1986 and adding 16 creek sites in 2003. These analyses cover nutrients, bacteria and 26 chemical elements. We now know everthing from our arsenic to our uranium levels. These results can be found in the Lakelse Lake Management Plan (LLMP).
Iron Input to the Lake
Many tributary creeks of the lake are high in iron. As mentioned in the Elodea section, iron is known to be a chemical which enhances its growth and areas adjacent to these creeks have had dense Elodea beds.
The 1986 McKean report pointed out that a 30 meter septic setback to prevent a bacterial health hazard to adjacent ground and surface waters would not be adequate for soils of poor phosphorus adsorption. Poor soils have been identified at 1st Avenue, Beam Station, Lupine, Snowy Owl Bay, Catt Bay, Southwest and Northwest shores, and the Provincial Campground. The report suggests setbacks of 175 meters for such soils and that they should apply to development around inflow creeks!
LWSS supports the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine in their present sewage studies and plan for Lakelse Lake and Jackpine.
With these bacteria results and a general B.C. wide policy, our local Health Authority issued an advisory against using any surface water without treatment.
Phosphorus is a primary fertiliser for all plants:
•15 ug/L can cause nuisance growth
•30 ug/L can cause algae blooms
•60 ug/L can kill plant life.
There are several creeks providing serious phosphorus contamination, with the worst being Williams since it accounts for 64% of the drainage area. During 2004 spring run-off Williams was estimated to be adding more than 20 kg/day of phosphorus to the lake. By comparison the Regional District study estimated that 6 kg/day would be added to the lake by Lakelse and Jackpine if septic systems discharged to the lake with absolutely no effective treatment by septic field soils.
The main water-mass of Lakelse has so far remained below 8 micrograms/L for 50 years, however in September 2004 deep-site readings reached 11 micrograms/L for most of the depth. Bottom sediment is rich in phosphorus with levels measured from the core samples at more than 1000 micrograms/gram. Phosphorus can be stirred up from bottom sediment by wave action. Natures way of controlling this is by damping waves by reed beds. To make matters worse, if oxygen levels ever get to zero, phosphorus can be drawn from sediment into the water column, thereby adding greatly to lake fertilization.