Water quality monitoring is carried out within the scope of the Réseau de surveillance volontaire des lacs (RSVL) program1. Among other things, this Quebec government program, implemented in 2004, allows residents to have a better knowledge and understanding of their lake and thus encourages them to participate actively in its protection. The RSVL is based on a partnership between the ministry responsible for the environment2 (Ministry), the riparian owners associations, the municipalities and the organizations involved in the protection and management of water bodies. The following table from the RSVL website page summarizes the division of responsibilities.
|Ministrère's VLMP [RSVL] Team||Lake Association or Participating Organization|
Description of the RSVL
The slide presentation on the RSVL's website provides an excellent overview of the nature of the program (objectives, background and participants) and of the role of intervening parties. It also describes how our lake's water quality is monitored, what is analyzed and why, and the reasons for being part of the network.
Results of the Monitoring Activities
As stated on the RSVL's website page providing access to the monitoring results, "... the Ministry produces records that documents the results of water quality monitoring for each of the lakes participating in the program. Sampling results can be obtained by searching by lake, municipality, watershed or administrative region." To access this Ministry's website page, please click here (French only). If you do use this access, it is easier to get at the desired records by using the the RSVL number. The links in the following table can also be used for direct access to the lake page of interest.
A given lake's file provides access to the following information:
- location of the lake and its survey and sampling stations;
- multi-year summary reports of water quality and transparency by sampling station. These reports show the evolution over time of summer averages of water transparency and of the concentration of phosphorus, chlorophyll a and dissolved organic carbon at the sampling station;
- annual water quality and/or transparency reports. These reports provide the results of the water transparency measurements as well as, if applicable, the physico-chemical data obtained from analysis of water samples (total phosphorus, chlorophyll a and dissolved organic carbon). The water quality report also provides an indication of the trophic state of the lake at the survey station as well as the Ministry's recommendations regarding future action;
Survey and Sampling Stations of the Lake Monitoring Program
- the most recent status report on monitoring activities since the beginning of the participation in the RSVL program.
In 2019, the following lakes are registered in the RSVL program : Blue Sea, Edja, Beaudry, Grant, Laverdure, Grenon, Roberge, Clément and Caya of the Blue Sea Lake watershed together with Profond et Castor Blanc of the Blue Sea Stream watershed.
The map opposite indicates the approximate location of survey stations (click on the map for an enlargement). In the field, they are located using GPS coordinates.
The following table identifies for each lake:
- the watershed where the lake is located,
- the year since when the monitoring started,
- the identification of stations, and
- the RSVL number which facilitates access to the monitoting and activity status reports, and is used to identify the survey stations (the number in the table is linked to the corresponding RSVL website page - French only).
|1||Blue Sea||L||2004||A, B, C, D||72|
|* L = Blue Sea Lake Watershed
R = Blue Sea Stream
|** Station A not monitored since 2011|
General Monitoring Activites Schedule
Monitoring of the wter quality of our lakes is carried out according to the RSVL protocols; information on these protcols and access to them is available on the "Guides and Protocols" page of our website. In general, mesures and sampling must abide by the following schedules:
Water Sample Collection: three water samplings to be carried out in June, July, and August during two or three consecutive years followed by a pause of a few years before resuming.
Water Transparency Measuring: once every two weeks from the beginning of June to Thanksgiving each year.
Measuring of Periphyton: three measurments on 10 rocks de 10 cm in diameter per site for 12 to 20 sites in lakes of 2 km2 in area or more and ideally 12 sites with a minimum of five in lakes of less than 2 km2. Measuring is carried out on three consecutive years followed by a five years interruption before resuming.
Visual Tracking of a Blue-Green Algae Bloom: as soon as visual tracking begins after detection and confirmation of the algea bloom, observations in the field must be done on a regular basis at the same time early in the morning with no more than three days between outings and continue for five to ten days after the apparent disappearance of the bloom.
The Association is responsible for collecting water samples and for field measurements and observations while following the protocols provided by RSVL. With a total of 14 sites out of 11 lakes, the effort required to achieve the goals is not insignificant. Since this work is done by volunteers, the Association is always looking for people willing to contribute to the implementation of the RSVL monitoring program, whether as Activity Manager or Alternate to ensure compliance with the protocol requirements. Examples of activities that a volunteer may be called upon to collaborate on or undertake:
- Take three water samples per season when required, in June, July, and August, at one or more locations in the monitored lakes, according to the protocol and schedule, and forward the samples to the RSVL according to the instructions;
- Conduct ten or so water transparency measurements between the beginning of June and Thanksgiving at one or more lake locations according to the RSVL protocol and schedule;
- Measure the thickness of the periphyton on ten or so rocks in the water at a dozen sites according to the monitoring plan in accordance with the RSVL protocol and the chosen schedule;
- Provide a boat to accompany a volunteer taking samples;
- Enter the data on the RSVL website;
- Coordinate the monitoring program for the Association;
- Liaise with the RSVL and the Associations's Board of Directors.
Of course, volunteers must be able to work on the water, which can be quite pleasant during the summer season; for monitoring peryphyton growth, it is also required to be able to read measurements under water in a depth of between 0.3 and 1 meter. In any case, a volunteer can choose to take responsibility for or collaborate to surveys at one or more sites on one or more lakes or participate in any other activity related to the water quality monitoring program.
1. The “Réseau de surveillance volontaire des lacs” can be translated literally as “Volunteer Lake Monitoring Network”. The Ministry chose the more commonly used expression of “Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program”, abbreviated “VLMP” which may appear in some of the Ministry's documentation. The Association chose to retain “RSVL” for the English version of its own documentation.