BCLSS Projects

Individual & Collaborative Endeavours

We Are Proud of Our Projects

Working with local community organizations, residents, and other non-profit societies, the BCLSS has undertaken multiple projects to improve lakes and lake shore ecology throughout British Columbia.  Through innovative initiatives, including the BC Lake Stewardship and Monitoring Program, LakeKeepers, and the BC Lake Stewardship Initiative, we are proud to be leading the way to clean, sustainable lakes for our beautiful province.

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

The BCLSS will assist in the revitalization and enhancement of the lake stewardship sector through the BC Lake Stewardship Engagement Initiative.


The BCLSS LakeKeepers training course and manual lead to a greater understanding of lake ecology and management.

canoe on lake

Secchi Dip-In

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

LakeKeepers Workshops

Since 2009, the BCLSS has offered LakeKeepers workshops to provide training and support for lake stewardship with an emphasis on lake water quality monitoring and aquatic plant surveying.  Twenty-seven workshops have been offered since the program’s inception thanks to our generous funders.

The BCLSS LakeKeepers training courses are offered throughout the province and participants will gain a greater understanding of lake ecology and management. This knowledge leads to an increased ability to take care of their lakes through better understanding of watershed and land-use impacts. Regionally based LakeKeepers courses will also create peer-to-peer learning opportunities through networking and will address specific issues and concerns from each local area by offering optional modules for selection by course participants. 

Through LakeKeepers, the BCLSS will continue to facilitate information sharing throughout the BC water community by encouraging collaboration and connections of our member groups, partner organizations, and other interested parties wherever possible, and by sharing details of current and future projects, and past successes of our member groups through our website, social media, quarterly newsletters and e-newsletters.

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.


Chapter One “Getting Started” briefly describes some of the aspects of lake stewardship. It introduces involvement in stewardship through citizen advocacy and monitoring, and how to create stewardship groups. It also provides information about other lake stewardship groups currently active in British Columbia.

Chapter Two “Organising a Stewardship Group” goes into more detail on organisational structure: how to find a good mix of members, what type of group may best match your interests, facilitating meetings, goal and action planning, fundraising, and how to use media and government agencies effectively.

Chapter Three “An Introduction to Lakes” introduces you to some of technical and scientific aspects of limnology by discussing first the physical characteristics of lake water, namely temperature and oxygen, followed by discussions of nutrient dynamics and biological production. Here too, the element of human impact on lakes is introduced.

With your initial understanding of lake ecology in place and with your willingness to become volunteers, it’s time to learn what is actually happening on that lake you’re interested in.

Chapter Four “Developing a Lake Sampling Program” provides instruction on how to sample lakes. You will learn some of the where, when, and how’s of developing and carrying out an effective program that can provide you with the information necessary to understand specific lakes and to participate
in effective lake management. 

The question of “what” to sample is a considerable one. It will be specific to each lake and water quality issue.

Chapter Five “Water Quality Parameters” covers this topic for the issue of most concern – nutrient pollution and lake eutrophication.

Request a LakeKeepers Manual (available soon)



With government funding for environmental programs in decline, there is more reliance on individuals and groups throughout the province to take on a greater role in stewardship activities, environmental monitoring, and water quality management. Collection of lake data by volunteers is extremely important for the protection of lake water quality as it helps establish a strong baseline of data that allows for lake health to be determined, monitored and managed over time. Good water quality is important to 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.

The BCLSS recognizes the importance of volunteers and, through our program, will help individuals and local groups take on a greater role in lake stewardship activities throughout BC.

In the spring of 2003, the BCLSS launched a province-wide program in partnership with the Ministry of Environment (MOE): The BC Lake Stewardship and Monitoring Program (BCLSMP). The program has been a great success and surpassed many of the deliverables set out in the original program. 

Under the BCLSMP, BCLSS staff train volunteers and provide them with equipment and support to facilitate the collection of water quality data and observations from lakes in BC. This program strengthens the volunteer stewardship sector in British Columbia by increasing awareness of the importance and value of volunteer lake monitoring and environmental stewardship.

This program is unique in that it gives dedicated volunteers the knowledge and tools to become stewards of their favourite lake, which, in turn, means healthier, better-managed lakes 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 monitoring for a particular lake.


Weekly Summer Clarity (Secchi) and Surface Water Temperature Readings
  • A minimum of 12 readings taken, spread evenly throughout the summer
  • Provides a minimum level of baseline information about a lake
  • Valuable to obtain this level of data for a large number of lakes from different biogeoclimatic zones for climate and eutrophication research
  • Coordinated by the BCLSS 
  • MoE involvement not required


Spring Overturn Plus Late Summer Water Chemistry and Dissolved Oxygen (DO)/Temperature (T) Profile Complimented by Weekly Summer Clarity (Secchi) and Surface Water Temperature Readings
  • Provides a second level of baseline information about a lake
  • DO/T profile required can be done by BCLSS staff and volunteers
  • MoE staff could do water chemistry sampling with the assistance of the BCLSS and volunteers 
  • Sampling at multiple depths may be required if DO/T profile shows the lake is not homogeneous


Same as Level 2, Adding Multiple Depth Water Chemistry and Biological Sampling Biweekly Throughout the Summer
  • Provides more detailed information on the lake such as possible summer oxygen depletion, internal nutrient loading and plankton species present
  • Results in a more comprehensive baseline data
  • A sediment core can be taken for insight into historic water quality to assess whether the lake has changed over time
  • Can be coordinated by BCLSS staff and carried out by volunteers
  • MoE staff involvement required
  • Significantly higher cost and effort required over 1 and 2


A Level 1, 2 or 3 Combined with a Watershed Study (see Hart and Associates on the Chinney – Felker Watershed)
  • Provides relative magnitudes of potential affects of different land uses
  • Can answer questions such as: how much of an effect are septic systems having?
  • Is of great value in prioritizing management efforts i.e. put the greatest effort where there is the best potential benefit
  • Considerably more expensive than 1, 2, or 3
  • Requires the services of a consultant but can be assisted greatly by local stewardship groups and agencies
  • MoE staff involvement required


Full Watershed Assessment that includes 1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as Stream Monitoring for Water Chemistry and Assessment of Riparian Areas
  • the ultimate study, but is very expensive and time consuming
  • not practical or necessary for every watershed
  • large amount of MoE staff involvement necessary

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

Secchi Depth and Surface Temperature

DO/T Profile

Level One Monitoring Instructions

Secchi Dip-In

The Dip-In takes place during Lakes Appreciation Month, July 1st to 31st. The Dip-In is an international event during which volunteers collect a snapshot of the water quality in their area. Volunteers from across North America have participated in this event for over twenty-five years.

The Secchi Dip-In is an annual event that brings out volunteers throughout North America to gather important environmental information about their lakes.  The Secchi disc 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 disc, 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 disc used in lakes is an 8-inch disc 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.  The amount of algae that grows 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.

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 the BCLSS office. Put your lake on the map!

BC Lake Stewardship Engagement Initiative

A recent project, the Integrated Lake Monitoring Framework (ILMF), completed in 2018, identified a number of needs of the volunteer lake stewardship sector. These needs have been partially addressed using generous funding from the Government of British Columbia. The BCLSS plans to fully address these needs as well as revitalize and enhance the stewardship sector through our new program, the BC Lake Stewardship Engagement Initiative.

A BCLSS representative will travel the province and offer presentations to encourage people to take on stewardship activities and water quality monitoring at their local lakes. Services offered include auditing of monitoring to ensure high quality, usable data is being collected; technical training; safety training; and support, encouragement, and advice on starting and operating a stewardship group.

This program has been a huge success in the first two years. Areas visited include Smithers/North Coast, Omineca, Whistler, Cariboo, and the Thomson/Nicola. Working closely with volunteers in a hands-on environment is a critical to the success of the program. The BCLSS has received extensive positive feedback and hopes to continue this program in 2021, visiting regions that have not been covered yet. Thank you to LUSH for providing funding for this program.

If you are interested in having the BCLSS offer a presentation in your area, please contact us.