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Lake Scientists Don't Hibernate!

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

By Lauren Pickford, Conservation Programs Associate, 7 Lakes Alliance

7 Lakes Alliance staff and Colby students have been monitoring water quality and taking sediment samples throughout the watershed this winter. Water quality is measured using multiple factors throughout the year, but winter is a particularly interesting time to do sampling. Sampling through the ice offers its own complications, and the lakes are well mixed offering a unique set of characteristics.

Water sampling measures phosphorus levels, algae levels, temperature gradients, oxygen levels, and more using two methods. We use an In Situ digital probe connected wirelessly to an iPad to record variations every meter down to the bottom. We also use a water sampler (pictured above) to "grab" water samples at the bottom, middle, and top of the water column. These samples are tested in Colby’s lab for phosphorus levels, algae presence in some instances, and more.

Sediment sampling (picture 4) has been completed at all of the water quality monitoring buoys on all seven lakes and in grid formation on Great Pond. Sediment sampling provides data about the phosphorus, aluminum, and iron content of the sediments.

All seven lakes in the Belgrade Lakes watershed have been sampled through the ice in 2019 thanks to generous volunteers who provided ice augers, assistance in sampling, and transportation in the form of snowmobiles. We are looking for more volunteers to help us accomplish more scientific testing throughout the watershed year-round.

If you want to learn more about volunteering, please email

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