A Health Update on Lake Windermere

The recent report conducted by Ecoscape Ltd. and commissioned by the Lake Windermere Ambassadors has shed light on significant environmental issues in Lake Windermere. The findings indicate elevated levels of arsenic, copper, and lead in the lake, posing potential risks to its ecosystem. Moreover, the presence of potentially toxic phytoplankton cyanobacteria at Kinsmen Beach has raised concerns about water quality and public health.

One of the major concerns identified in the report is the wake turbulence caused by boats, particularly in the shallow areas of the lake. Wake turbulence can have adverse effects, as it disturbs the sediment and can resuspend fine organic and silty particles containing contaminants. This disturbance has the potential to impact the overall water quality and contribute to the spread of pollutants, thereby compromising the ecosystem’s health.

Photo: Columbia Valley Pioneer

Sediment samples collected during the study revealed concentrations of arsenic, copper, and lead that exceeded the recommended thresholds. This indicates the presence of potentially harmful substances in the sediment, which can have long-term implications for the lake’s ecological balance and the organisms living within it. Additionally, the study identified high densities of phytoplankton, particularly cyanobacteria, in the lake. Cyanobacteria are known for their ability to form algal blooms, and certain species can produce toxins that pose risks to human and animal health.

To address these concerning findings, the report suggests implementing measures to monitor boat density in the lake. This data would provide valuable insights into the areas experiencing the highest recreational use, allowing for the identification of potential hotspots where additional management actions may be necessary. Furthermore, the report emphasizes the importance of protecting water quality and recommends measures such as informing the public about cyanobacteria levels and implementing signage to raise awareness about responsible boating practices.

The study also highlights the increasing levels of phosphorus in Lake Windermere over the past seven years. Phosphorus is a key nutrient that, when present in excess, can contribute to the growth of algal blooms. Rising temperatures in the lake, evidenced by an average increase of 1.7 degrees Celsius over the past 11 years, further exacerbate the conditions conducive to algal bloom formation. These two trends together suggest a potential threat to the lake’s water quality and ecosystem stability.

As a result, the report recommends the development of a comprehensive cyanobacteria response plan to address the presence of toxic cyanobacteria and potential algal blooms. It also suggests incorporating Green Shore for Homes principles into the Athalmer Neighborhood Plan, emphasizing environmentally friendly practices and shoreline protection.

Overall, the report underscores the need for proactive measures to mitigate the impact of recreational activities on Lake Windermere’s ecosystem. By implementing the suggested recommendations, monitoring boat density, protecting water quality, and raising public awareness, it is hoped that the lake’s environmental health can be preserved, ensuring the continued enjoyment of this natural resource for future generations.