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The City of Kenora is keeping a close eye on the water quality of Black Sturgeon Lake.

Kenora Resource Consultants have prepared a report that was presented to Kenora council, that assessed the water quality on the lower portion of Black Sturgeon Lake for two consecutive years, and then once every five years to monitor any changes. The report aims to determine the impact of development on the quality of the water.

Samples were taken at the outlet of Black Sturgeon into the Winnipeg River, the inlet of Black Sturgeon Creek and the outlet of Upper Black Sturgeon Lake. The outlet of Black Sturgeon Lake into the Winnipeg River was the main sampling location, as new and proposed developments are occurring upstream of the site.

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The 2017 spring sampling results for phosphorous concentrations were at or below the provincial water quality objective (PWQO) of 0.200 mg/L for all sites. The results were all above concentrations found in 2009, 2015 and 2016, but were below the results found in 2010.

The provincial water quality objective is to avoid nuisance concentrations of algae in lakes. The report notes that the phosphorus concentrations have remained relatively stable for the past decade, however the upward trend from 2016 and 2017 should be noted. They say that if the trend continues in 2018 – there may be cause for concern.

Phosphorous in the water contributes to the formation of algae, which can adversely affect water quality and human health. Phosphorus is a nutrient that is contained in common items like detergents, fertilizers, manure, human waste and decaying plants.

Blue-green algae blooms commonly occur in late summer and early fall. They thrive in areas where the water is shallow, slow moving and warm, but may be present in deeper, cooler water. After swimming in lakes with toxic blue-green algae, humans may experience stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea and skin rashes. Nerve and liver damage has also been reported following long-term exposure such as drinking water with toxic blooms.

Canada’s 2016 Budget proposed up to $19.5-million over five years to study water quality and flooding issues in four Canada-United States boundary basins, with the goal of protecting the local environment and communities.

The samples were also analyzed for 54 other parameters, encompassing dissolved organic carbon, colour, acidity and trace metals. The samples were all within the provincial water quality objective, with the exception of copper – 0.00116 mg/L. The PWQO for copper is 0.001 mg/L.

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Overall, the report shows that Black Sturgeon Lake has remained consistently healthy and does not appear to be deteriorating over time. However, further monitoring will continue in the future to make sure that future developments in the area do not harm the health of the lake.

For more information:
Black Sturgeon Lake Water Quality Report
Fighting against toxic algae

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