How Often Should Water Quality be Tested?
April 13th, 2017
Written by Industry Expert, Brea Arvidson, Aquatic Biologist
Healthy water quality is extremely important for all lakes and ponds, and proactive testing and monitoring is vital when it comes to helping prevent water quality problems in recreational lakes, stormwater ponds and drinking water reservoirs. Lake and pond owners often wait until an algae bloom, fish kill, foul odor or other negative water quality problem occurs before implementing a basic water quality program. This can have dire consequences.
Poor water quality can quickly lead to an unbalanced ecosystem, which not only negatively impacts the ecology and recreational use of a waterbody, but can also affect surrounding waterways. Take the enormous toxic algae bloom in Florida, for example, which originated in Lake Okeechobee in the summer of 2016 and impacted Treasure Coast waterways and beaches; the dangerous cyanobacteria limited boating, fishing and swimming throughout South Florida and posed a serious threat to the health of residents, tourists, pets and wildlife. While a number of unique factors contributed to the development and spread of this harmful algae bloom, it is clear that water quality problems in our lakes and ponds can rapidly turn into ecological nightmares.
Knowing the importance of proactive water quality testing and monitoring, how often should water quality be sampled? Does sample location matter? The use of the waterbody and surrounding land dictates how often water quality should be sampled, and individual waterbody management goals also affect the rate at which water quality is monitored.
Sampling locations and frequency depend on the waterbody use objectives, and water quality should be monitored during the season that supports plant and algae growth. The smaller the pond, the easier the water quality is influenced. Thus, monitoring should be performed more frequently for smaller waterbodies.
For larger lakes and ponds, water quality sampling frequency is determined more by waterbody benthic contours, inlets and potential runoff from high-use areas such as farm fields, beaches and heavily manicured lawns. Multiple sampling sites are typically located within a larger waterbody, depending on the breadth of external influences. Sampling multiple sites across several dates throughout the year can help identify localized areas within the lake or pond that are experiencing impaired water quality.
Fishery ponds, especially when managed for the growth of trophy sport fish, are a prime example of specialized recreational use, and frequent testing is crucial to a successful fisheries management program. Persistent water quality monitoring, focused on desirable plankton production and available habitat, can indicate how to further build and support the fishery. The forage-base in a fishery is also important and plankton sampling can help dictate how to manage or supplement the plankton population in order to help maintain the desired productive fishery.
But no matter the shape, size or use of a waterbody, a proactive annual sampling of baseline water quality conditions is recommended. A proactive approach to water quality testing and monitoring helps to document annual trends occurring within the waterbody and acts as a reference for emerging water quality impairments. For many, water quality sampling is a reaction to the lake or pond’s condition. Proactive monitoring, though, ultimately gives us a better understanding of the processes occurring within the waterbody and helps us identify potential problems before they occur.
Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond and fisheries management needs.
Brea Arvidson is an Aquatic Biologist based out of SOLitude’s office in Shrewsbury, MA. As part of the Biology Team, she provides clients with a complete range of ecologically based water quality solutions and has a particular interest in the management of Nostoc as well as aquatic and wetland plants.
SOLitude Lake Management is committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Our services include lake, pond and fisheries management programs, algae and aquatic weed control, mechanical harvesting, hydro-raking, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, water quality testing and restoration, bathymetry, lake vegetation studies, biological assessments, habitat assessments, invasive species management and nuisance wildlife management. Services, consulting and aquatic products are available to clients nationwide, including homeowners associations, multi-family and apartment communities, golf courses, commercial developments, ranches, private landowners, reservoirs, recreational and public lakes, municipalities, parks, and state and federal agencies. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.