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.

BC Lake Stewardship Engagement Initiative

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


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

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.

LakeKeepers Workshops

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 Foundation, Real 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. This knowledge increases the ability of citizens to steward their lakes, as they are equipped with a better understanding of the watershed and 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.

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!

Coming soon: 3 Day Lake Ecology & Monitoring Course

We are in the process of developing a course aimed at environmental professionals that has been certified by our highly qualified board of directors. The course will provide an in-depth overview of lake monitoring and lake ecology. Participants will be assessed on their knowledge of the material presented throughout the course through study questions and a final quiz. Participants will also need to demonstrate field proficiency with the sampling procedures covered in the course.  A certificate will be issued upon successful completion of the course.

Please contact info@bclss.org for more information about the LakeKeepers Workshops.

LakeKeepers Manual (currently under revision)

The LakeKeepers manual is a lakeshore resident’s guide to the stewardship and monitoring of lakes. Anyone concerned or even curious about lakes in BC will find this manual useful and informative. The manual provides insight to the fascinating nature of lakes and helps readers understand basic lake function. This is especially important for individuals who wish to play an active role in managing the health of those lakes in which they are interested.

The manual is currently being revised and we appreciate your patience while it undergoes extensive technical review.


Request a LakeKeepers Manual (available soon)

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 aesthetic purposes. 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. Collection of lake data by citizen scientists is extremely important for the protection of lake water quality. Volunteer-collected data can establish a good baseline and may help fill data gaps, which enables lake health to be determined, monitored, and managed over time. 

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 our 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. 

Under the BCLSMP, citizen scientists 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, which, in turn, provides a better picture of lake health in British Columbia. It also promotes community-based involvement and extensive collaboration efforts.


This program includes five different levels of monitoring. Factors affecting water quality and the resources available to each region determine the level of study for a particular lake. The BCLSS currently manages all provincial Level 1 programs while ENV manages all Level 2 & 3 programs.

Level 1 Study

Weekly or biweekly surface water temperature and clarity (Secchi disk) readings collected by volunteer monitors
  • Managed by the BCLSS
  • Monitoring includes a minimum of 12 readings, spread evenly throughout the ice-off season
  • Can be done on any lake of interest
  • Optional collection of dissolved oxygen and temperature profiles to enhance this level of monitoring
  • Full monitoring procedures can be found here and the field form can be found here

Level 2 Study

Level 1 study plus spring overturn and late summer water chemistry conducted by ENV
  • Managed by ENV
  • Only available for select lakes
  • Option for volunteers to collect dissolved oxygen and temperature profiles if equipment is available
  • ENV staff collect water chemistry samples.

Level 3 Study

A Level 2 study plus biweekly multiple depth water chemistry and biological sampling throughout the summer
  • Managed by ENV.
  • Water sampling conducted by volunteers.
  • Provides more detailed information on the lake such as possible summer oxygen depletion and internal nutrient loading.
  • Results in a more comprehensive dataset.
  • A sediment core can be taken for insight into historic water quality to assess whether the lake has changed over time

Level 4 Study

A Level 3 study plus a watershed study
  • Provides detailed information on lake health and land use impacts
  • Community-led plus government involvement
  • Contact ENV for more information.

Level 5 Study

Full watershed assessment that includes Level 4 study plus stream monitoring and assessment of riparian areas
  • Comprehensive and requires extensive resources
  • Community-led with government involvement
  • Contact ENV for more information

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 collect meaningful data. 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.

Data Form Downloads

Level 1 Field Form

Level 1 Field Procedures

Level 1 + Profiles Field Procedures

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 marie@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.


BC Lakes