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General News · 3rd September 2014
Leah (Friends of Cortes)
For the past four weeks, local volunteers have been taking water samples in both Hague and Gunflint lakes to test the total coliform and e.coli levels at a total of 14 sites. With advice from Rosie Barlak (Environmental Impact Assessment Biologist at Ministry of Environment), we have been carrying out this round sampling which requires 5 tests taken in a 30 day period. This data will then be analyzed by Rosie and integrated into the MoE database for comparison to other lakes in the region.

For the final week of testing, we will also be doing a bacteriological tracking test at any sites that have had high coliform readings. This is essentially a DNA test which will identify what species the coliform is coming from (ie human, goose, cow, beaver...) This will help us determine whether or not septic systems are contributing to the coliform (and nitrogen) load in the lakes, or if there are other factors we need to look at.

On August 18th, we were fortunate to have Dr. Eric Demers and a biology student from Vancouver Island University come to Cortes to perform a series of tests. Equipped with all of the necessary instruments, they were able to create a "depth profile" for each lake. To do this, they measured temperature, dissolved oxygen, specific conductance, oxidation reduction potential, and pH at one meter intervals. Grab samples were also taken to analyze total organic carbon, dissolved organic carbon, turbidity, chlorophyll a, ammonia, nitrate/nitrite, total phosphorous, hardness, and total metals. They also collected zoo- and phytoplankton samples to identify what species of plankton are present in the lakes. The VIU team will then analyze their data and present us with an assessment on the health of the lakes.

In order to carry out the bacteriological tracking test, we are looking for someone to transport a cooler of water samples to UVIC on Wednesday, September 10th. Please let me know ASAP if you are able to help make the delivery. Call Leah at 935-0087 or email

We are also in need of an electric motor for Thursday, September 4th and Tuesday, Sept. 9th as we had to reschedule our last test day due to high winds. It would be great if we could use a row boat with an electric motor to ensure that we can complete the 5 weeks of testing. Please be in touch if you're able to help make this happen.

Thank you all for your support in preserving the health of these lakes.