Water quality monitoring is a critical part of lake management. Water quality monitoring provides an ongoing record of conditions in Big Whitefish Lake. Changes in water quality can indicate threats from sources such as failed or inadequate septic systems, agricultural and lawn runoff, burgeoning development and erosion from construction sites. Prompt identification of threats to water quality make it possible to remedy them before irreversible harm has been done. Riparian’s enjoyment of the water resource and the value of their property depend on maintaining water quality. PLM has been monitoring the water quality of Big Whitefish Lake for over twenty years. Parameters that are evaluated every season include but are not limited to; temperature, dissolved oxygen, water clarity, E. coli, total phosphorus and nitrates concentrations.
Overall, Big Whitefish Lake has excellent water quality and supports a healthy fisheries. Nutrient enrichment of the lake is low to moderate, with elevated phosphorus concentrations coming from both internal (sediments) & external sources (surrounding watershed). Water clarity is also an important factor in achieving a balanced ecosystem. The clearer the water the more sunlight that can penetrate, promoting native plant growth. Big Whitefish Lake has very good clarity with average depth of 5+ meters in the spring.
This season PLM will be sampling some of the tributaries that feed into the lake for nutrient enrichment. The Big Whitefish Lake Association is interested in determining the impacts the surrounding watershed is having on the lake. Tributaries will be sampled during rain events and dry conditions for baseline parameters (pH, conductivity, alkalinity etc.) as well as the nutrients total phosphorus and nitrates. Reports will be issued in the fall.