BCLSS Programs

Individual & Collaborative Endeavours

We Are Proud of Our Programs and Partnerships

Working with local community organizations, residents, and other non-profit societies, the BCLSS has implemented a variety of programs to provide education and training to expand lake stewardship throughout British Columbia. Through our unique programs, including the BC Lake Stewardship and Monitoring Program, LakeKeepers, and the BC Lake Stewardship Engagement Initiative, we are proud to be empowering stewards to ensure our provincial lakes are clean and healthy.

BC Lake Stewardship and Monitoring Program

The BCLSS developed the BC Lake Stewardship and Monitoring Program in partnership with the BC Ministry of Environment to allow for greater collaboration with lake stewards.

BCLSS Lake Conference


The BCLSS Annual Conference is back in person for the first time since 2019! The theme for this year’s conference is:The BIG Three: Climate Change, Introduced Species, & Eutrophication


The BCLSS LakeKeepers training course and manual provide an in-depth understanding of lake ecology and management.

BC Lake Stewardship Engagement Initiative

Through the BC Lake Stewardship Engagement Initiative, the BCLSS will enhance and strengthen the provincial lake stewardship sector.

canoe on lake

Secchi Dip-In

The NALMS Secchi Dip-In is an international event during which volunteers collect a snapshot of the water quality from their favourite lake.

Water Rangers

Partnerships and Collaborations

The BCLSS partners with other organizations that share our vision of clean, healthy lakes. Collaboration leads to a larger impact, further strengthening watershed stewardship throughout the province.


The BCLSS Annual Conference was held on September 23 & 24 at the Power To Be site on Prospect Lake, Victoria, BC. 
Download the conference agenda here. Meet the conference speakers here.


Kirsten McNeill, BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy – The Evolution of the BC Lake Stewardship and Monitoring Program

Georgia Peck, Living Lakes Canada – Interweaving Traditional Knowledge with Water Stewardship through Collaborative Foreshore Surveys

Bruce Kosugi, Charlie Lake Conservation Society – Monitoring Environmental Changes in Charlie Lake: Insights from over 20 years of observations

Paul Gowland & Gina Hoar, Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society – Effects of eutrophication and an invasive aquatic species (Parrot Feather) on salmonid populations in the Somenos watershed

Peggy English & Lynn Kriwoken, Whistler Lakes Conservation Association – 
What Really Counts? Building a Lake Stewardship Ethic in a World-Destination Resort Community

Ken Ashley – Effects of Climate Change on Lake Circulation, Stratification, and Hypolimnetic Oxygen

Matt Brown & Madeleine Ankenman, Swim Drink Fish Canada – Swim Drink Fish Programs

Jay White, Aquality Environmental Consulting Ltd. – Peroxide and alum treatment

Terry McNabb, Aquatechnex – A new tool for restoring waterbodies impacted by the invasive aquatic weed Eurasian Milfoil

Dr. Shannon Waters – Keynote speaker

Daniel Selbie, Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Aqua Incognita: Species-at-risk persistence at the intersection of eutrophication, climate change, and exotic species invasion in their critical habitat, Cultus Lake, British Columbia

Torin Kelly, Invasive Species Council of BC – Invasive Species Council of BC Programs that Prevent the Introduction and Spread of Introduced Invasive Species

Rebecca Nielsen, Coastal Collaborative Sciences – Water quality and eutrophication in the Elk Lake Watershed

Nell Libera, DataStream Initiative The Gordon Foundation – Introducing Pacific DataStream: an open-access data platform to support collaboration and water stewardship


1.5 Day LakeKeepers Workshop

Since 2009, the BCLSS has offered LakeKeepers workshops to provide training and support for lake stewardship with an emphasis on lake water quality monitoring. Workshops are held throughout the province thanks to our generous partners and funders: Habitat Conservation Trust FoundationReal Estate Foundation of BC, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

The BCLSS LakeKeepers 1.5 day training course provides participants with a greater understanding of lake ecology and health. Human impacts to watersheds and lakes are also covered. This knowledge increases the ability of citizens to steward their lakes, as they are equipped with a better understanding of the watershed and potential land-use impacts. Regionally based LakeKeepers courses also create peer-to-peer learning opportunities through networking and can address issues and concerns specific to the location.  Optional modules, such as Watershed Assessment and Aquatic Plant Surveying are available and can selected by course participants.

The workshop consists of one day in class that includes hands on training to use lake monitoring equipment, followed by one – half day at a lake where participants apply a variety of lake ecology and water quality monitoring techniques

Topics covered in the course may include:

  • How to form a stewardship group
  • How to become a society and get charitable status
  • Funding sources
  • Water fundamentals
  • Physical characteristics of lakes
  • Nutrient dynamics and biological production
  • Human impacts on watersheds
  • The impacts of climate change on lakes
  • How to develop a lake sampling program
  • Water quality parameters
  • Reporting monitoring program results
  • And more!

First Nations LakeKeepers Program

The BC Lake Stewardship Society is pleased to report on our on-going First Nations Lake Stewardship & Monitoring Training Program (First Nations LakeKeepers). See above for details on our 1.5 Day LakeKeepers Workshops.

P’egp’ig’lha workshop participants go over calibration results and lake water quality measurements with Seton Lake as the backdrop

BCLSS has had participation from First Nations communities throughout BC. From the Skwah in the Lower Mainland, to the P’egp’ig’lha in Lillooet to the South Dakelh in the Cariboo, to the Kitsella in Terrace, our LakeKeepers workshops have been enthusiastically received. BCLSS has partnered with several organizations to deliver these workshops: BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Skeena Wild, Skeena Knowledge Trust, Living Lakes Canada, and the individual First Nations Communities.  Many of these workshops have significant participation from the youth of these communities.

There is strong interest among many First Nations who have established or are starting Guardian Programs.  “This was an awesome course. Instructors were awesome and helpful. I would recommend this course to others who want to know more about the land,” said Foster Thom, a Tsalalh Lands Guardian.

I would like this training component with St’at’imc Nation[1]as a collaboration unit and involve all communities. We need collaboration with all First Nation communities for spring lake turnover and fall,” said Denise Antoine, P’egp’ig’lha Natural Resources Specialist.

BCLSS has been honored to provide this training and learn from the participants as well! Read 2023 highlights from the First Nations LakeKeepers Program here. Anyone interested in the BCLSS First Nations LakeKeepers Program can contact the BCLSS office info@bclss.org

If you would like a LakeKeepers Workshop in your community in 2024, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can get you on a list for potential funding.

[1] The St’át’imc are the original inhabitants of the territory which extends north to Churn Creek and to South French Bar; northwest to the headwaters of the Bridge River; north and east toward Hat Creek Valley; east to the Big Slide; south to the island on Harrison Lake and west of the Fraser River to the headwaters of the Lillooet River, Ryan River and Black Tusk. The St’át’imc Nation is composed of eleven distinct and self-governing communities, including the Líl’wat Nation, which is a distinct Nation with linguistic, cultural, familial and political ties to the St’át’imc Nation. Source: Squamish Lillooet Regional District

NEW! 3 Day Lake Ecology & Monitoring Course

October 1-3, 2024
$750 per person
Held near Williams Lake, BC

The BCLSS Lake Ecology and Monitoring Course is a 3 day course designed to give professionals in environment related fields a thorough grounding in the fundamentals of lake ecology and monitoring to prepare them for work in consulting firms, government agencies, and other organizations engaged in the monitoring and assessment of lakes. BCLSS has developed  this course through the expertise in limnology of our staff and Board of Directors. Students will gain proficiency in a variety of lake related field monitoring techniques through field sessions at a lake comprising approximately 30% of the course.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understanding of the fundamentals of limnology
  • Understanding of the basics of lake water quality monitoring design
  • Proficiency in the use of lake water quality monitoring equipment
  • Understanding of assessment of, and reporting on lake water quality monitoring data

Key Elements

  • PowerPoint presentation of course material
  • Study questions (60 questions) will be based primarily on the LakeKeepers Manual and any supplemental material provided. These will cover all aspects of the material presented and there will be some in class time to work on them in groups. Otherwise, students will be expected to do these as homework and they will be gone over in the class each morning.
  • Field Program – there will be hands on use of field equipment in class and field sessions at a lake comprising approximately 30% of the course. The fundamentals of lake monitoring and use of equipment will be taught.
  • Final Quiz – there will be a final quiz with questions similar to the study questions
  • Grading:1/3 completion of study guide questions and participation in class (students will all have to demonstrate completion of homework and answer their share of study guide questions in class,1/3 hands on and field sessions – hands on and field sessions will be done in groups and then each student will have to demonstrate proficiency with all of the equipment and techniques, 1/3 final exam.

Course Content

  • An Introduction to Lakes
    • Water Fundamentals
    • Physical Characteristics of Lakes
    • Lake Nutrient Dynamics and Biological Production
    • Human Impacts on Watersheds
  • Developing a Lake Sampling Program
    • Design Basics
    • Quality Control and Quality Assurance
    • Lake Sampling
    • Reporting the Results
  • Water Quality Parameters
    • Water Clarity
    • Temperature
    • Dissolved Oxygen
    • Phosphorus
    • pH
    • Nitrogen
    • Chlorophyll a
    • Fecal Coliform Bacteria
    • Metals
    • Emerging contaminants e.g., microplastics
  • Climate Change Impacts on Lakes
  • Lake Stewardship and Volunteer Programs (covered briefly in the course but not part of study questions or quiz)

Meet the instructors here!

Please contact info@bclss.org for more information about our courses.

LakeKeepers Manual

The LakeKeepers manual is a comprehensive guide to lake stewardship and ecology in British Columbia. Anyone concerned or even curious about our provincial lakes will find this manual useful and informative. It is an educational resource, lake monitoring training guide, and toolkit for developing successful community stewardship initiatives. 

The 2022 version of the manual is now available by clicking on the adjacent image. If you have any comments on the manual, please let us know, as we will be updating it on an annual basis.

The BCLSS invites anyone with an interest in lake conservation to become a member of the society, so that we can work together to strengthen the stewardship sector and keep lakes clean and healthy, for generations to come.


BC Lake Stewardship and Monitoring Program

Good water quality is important for aquatic life and wildlife that rely on lakes for food and habitat, and to people, who use lakes for drinking water, fishing, boating, swimming, other recreational uses, and for the natural beauty they offer. There is an increasing need for individuals and groups throughout the province to take on a greater role in stewardship activities and water quality monitoring as citizen scientists. Collection of lake data by citizen scientists is important for the protection of lake water quality. Volunteer-collected data provides valuable baseline and background information, that helps us examine and understand what is happening in aquatic environments and observe long term trends.

The BCLSS and the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) recognize the importance of citizen science and assists individuals and local groups with taking on a greater role in caring for lakes through the BC Lake Stewardship and Monitoring Program (BCLSMP). This program was launched in 2003, in partnership between BCLSS, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV), and volunteers. Visit the new BCLSMP website.

Under the BCLSMP, volunteers are provided with training, equipment, and support to facilitate the collection of water quality data and observations from lakes in BC. The program is unique in that it gives dedicated volunteers the knowledge and tools to become stewards of their favourite lake. It also promotes community-based involvement and extensive collaboration efforts.


This program includes five different levels of monitoring. The level of study that is chosen is based on the volunteer commitment, resources available to the region, and the specific concerns for the lake itself. The BCLSS currently manages all provincial Level 1 programs while ENV manages all Level 2 & 3 programs.

After three years of monitoring, the data collected by volunteers from each lake will be summarized into a lake-specific report by the BCLSS. It is important to note, however, that a minimum of 12 equally spaced samples taken throughout the spring/summer seasons are required in order to conduct meaningful data analysis. The lake reports are reader-friendly and will describe the trends in the lake parameters that were monitored. The report will also provide the residents and seasonal users of the lakes with an idea of potential changes in water quality and will identify any problems associated with these changes. Where possible, the reports will make recommendations for further lake monitoring and assessment. Please refer to our library page to view lake reports already completed.

Level 1 Study

Monitoring activities include:

  • Weekly or biweekly readings for water clarity and surface water temperature
  • Optional: weekly or biweekly dissolved oxygen and temperature profiles (if a field meter is available)
  • A minimum of 12 readings, evenly spread throughout the ice-free season is required

Level 1 studies can be conducted on any lake of interest and are managed by the BCLSS.

For the Level 1 Study, full monitoring procedures can be found here and the field form can be found in PDF or Excel formats.

For the Level 1 Study + Lake Profiles, full monitoring procedures can be found here and the field form can be found in PDF or Excel formats.

3-year commitment. 1 hour or less per week.

Level 2 Study

Monitoring activities include Level 1 study program plus:

  • Spring overturn and late summer water chemistry conducted by ENV staff.
  • Optional: weekly dissolved oxygen and temperature profiles (if a field meter is available).

Level 2 studies are only available for select lakes and are managed by ENV. Learn more about the Level 2 program here.

3-year commitment. 1 hour or less per week.

Level 3 Study

Monitoring activities include all Level 2 study program activities plus:

  • Bi-weekly monitoring of multi-depth water chemistry and biological sampling conducted by volunteers.

Level 3 studies can be conducted on any lake of interest and are managed by ENV. Learn more about the Level 3 program here.

3-year commitment. 1 to 2 hours or more either a bi-weekly or monthly cycle.

Level 4 Study

Monitoring activities combine Level 1, 2, or 3 studies plus:

  • A watershed study providing detailed information on lake health as well as impacts of different land uses to the lake.

Provides great value in prioritizing short and long-term management strategies for rehabilitation and protection of aquatic systems.

Level 4 studies are required to be led by the community and can involve multiple levels of government (i.e., municipal, regional, and provincial). Contact ENV about the Level 4 program.

Long-term, multi-year commitment.

Level 5 Study

Monitoring study activities include:

  • A full watershed assessment that includes Level 4 study monitoring activities
  • Stream monitoring and assessment of riparian areas.

Level 5 studies are the most comprehensive lake monitoring studies and can be very time intensive and expensive. Specific criteria are required to undertake a Level 5 study. Requires community to lead the project with the involvement of multiple levels of government (i.e., municipal, regional, and provincial). Contact ENV about the Level 5 program.

Long-term, multi-year commitment.

Data Form Downloads

Level 1 Field Form

Level 1 Field Procedures

Level 1 + Profiles Field Procedures

Level 1 + Profiles Field Form

Secchi Dip-In

The Secchi Dip-In takes place during Lakes Appreciation Month, July 1st to 31st. This is an international effort of the North American Lake Management Society during which volunteers collect a snapshot of the water quality in their local lake. Volunteers from across North America have participated in this event for over twenty-five years, gathering important environmental information about their lakes. The BCLSS has been a collaborator of this event in BC since 2002!

The Secchi disk is one of the most basic tools for evaluating water quality of lakes. It measures water transparency (clarity) which is a good indicator of the impacts from human activity on the land surrounding a water body. If transparency is measured through the season and from year to year, trends in transparency can be observed. It can serve as an early warning that activities on the land are affecting water quality. 

Father Pietro Angelo Secchi, scientific advisor to the Pope, was asked by Commander Cialdi, head of the Papal Navy, to develop and test a new water transparency instrument in the Mediterranean Sea.  This instrument, now named the Secchi disk, was first lowered from the papal steam yacht l’Immacolata Concezione (The Immaculate Concenption) in the Mediterranean Sea on April 20, 1865.

The typical Secchi disk used in lakes is an 8-inch disk with alternating black and white quadrants. It is lowered into the water until the observer can no longer see it. The depth of disappearance, called the Secchi depth, is a measure of the transparency of the water. 

Transparency decreases as the amount of particulate materials – such as algae and suspended sediment –  increases. In other words, the water becomes less clear when there is more algae or sediment suspended in the water. The amount of algae that grows in a lake is affected by the amount of nutrients coming from sewage treatment plants, septic tanks, and lawn and agricultural fertilizer, as well as suspended sediments washed from construction sites, agricultural fields, urban storm runoff, or  churned upward from bottom deposits. Determining water clarity is the first step in assessing the health of a lake. 

The BC Lake Stewardship Society organizes the provincial Dip-In and submits the data to the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS). You can explore historical Dip-In data on the Water Quality Portal.

If you would like to participate in the Secchi Dip-In, please contact info@bclss.org. Put your lake on the map!

Secchi Upload

Accepted file types: jpg, gif, png, pdf, jpeg, Max. file size: 10 MB.

BC Lake Stewardship Engagement Initiative

The BC Lake Stewardship Society recognizes the increased need to focus on education and communication to advance stewardship throughout the province. The BC Lake Stewardship Engagement Initiative (BCLSEI) is an educational program developed in 2019 to improve the capacity of lake stewards and to complement our other well-established programs and services.

In 2018, the BCLSS led the development of the Integrated Lake Monitoring Framework (ILMF), in partnership with Living Lakes Canada, for the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. This framework outlined the need to expand and enhance the volunteer lake stewardship sector and also verified that the volunteer lake stewardship sector required more training and diverse support. These needs can be addressed by increasing awareness and offering education and training opportunities. The needs identified in the report included:

  • personal contact for training and other aspects of lake management,
  • information on lake ecology,
  • support with forming a stewardship group,
  • connections with other groups who may have experience with similar lake management issues,
  • assistance with identifying funding sources for projects and equipment,
  • providing equipment,
  • regular communication,
  • assistance with defining objectives for monitoring,
  • designing an appropriate monitoring program,
  • training on correct monitoring procedures,
  • audits to correct data collection problems and maintain quality assurance of data,
  • assistance with resolution of lake management issues,
  • communication and connection with specific government agencies or representatives involved in managing certain aspects of lakes.

The BCLSS aims to fulfill these needs of the volunteer lake stewardship sector through the BC Lake Stewardship Engagement Initiative (BCLSEI), an educational program offered through meetings, presentations, and workshops. The diverse curriculum of this program is based on the needs and requests of communities being visited and can include general lake science, information on lake stewardship and citizen science, general support and advice for lake stewards, increasing awareness on lake related issues such as aquatic plants and invasive mussels, and assistance with operating a stewardship group, including information on fundraising. The BCLSEI can be adapted to incorporate more technical components such as procedural and safety training for lake monitoring and auditing of monitoring to ensure high quality data is being collected.

Virtual meetings are an integral component of the BC Lake Stewardship Engagement Initiative in response to the COVID pandemic. Virtual meeting educational topics range from general lake science (including lake-specific science), how to purchase and use a dissolved oxygen meter, and how to take Secchi and temperature readings.

Meeting with provincial lake stewards under the BCLSEI has reinforced the importance of  personalized assistance. Face to face meetings are complemented by ongoing support and outreach offered by the BCLSS through follow up emails, phone calls, and virtual meetings. Additional support is provided through educational resources, informational monthly newsletters, and sharing of any other relevant contacts or resources. This ongoing support is critical as it continues to motivate lake stewards and citizen scientists, which, in turn, ensures that lakes receive the care they need to remain healthy. Feedback from program participants has reinforced the value of this support.

The initial success of this program demonstrates that personalized contact with those that have concern for and care about our local lakes is invaluable. We aim to continue to empower individuals and groups through this program, so that they can take on a greater role in lake stewardship. 

If you are interested in having the BCLSS provide a personalized presentation, please contact us.

Partnerships and Collaborations

Water Rangers

BCLSS is a Water Rangers Ambassador!

Water Rangers has carefully designed, educational water test kits that anyone can use. They are an excellent way for community groups and schools to collect and share water quality data from lakes and streams.

The BCLSS has been using these kits with a number of school groups as well as for monitoring Como Lake in Coquitlam with the Burke Mountain Naturalists. They are very well put together, easy to use, and fun! Water data can be entered right into the Water Rangers app and are graphed immediately in the dashboard so that you can see the results over time.

To learn more about these educational test kits and to purchase one through the BCLSS, please click here.

Living Lakes Canada Lake Blitz

This citizen science project was born out of the continuing need to increase water stewardship and help Canadians understand climate change impacts on the health of our lakes, rivers, wetlands, streams, and groundwater.

Participating in the Lake Blitz is simple and fun! For more information and to get involved, please go to the Living Lakes Canada Lake Blitz website.