Coordinated Nutrient Monitoring Program

Since 2014, the Georgian Bay Biosphere (GBB) has worked with partners to develop a nutrient monitoring strategy for eastern Georgian Bay, recognizing the efforts of volunteers, townships, organizations, and agencies.

The overall objective is to improve the coordination and collection of nutrient information in eastern Georgian Bay. The strategy also aims to ensure consistency in terms of what and how nutrients are measured, in light of current federal, provincial and regional government monitoring programs.

The project is funded by Environment Canada’s Lake Simcoe South Eastern Georgian Bay Clean Up Fund and the Lake Huron Framework for Community Action, with partner support from many organizations and other research agencies

Nutrient monitoring refers to total phosphorus (TP) monitoring, as it is the nutrient that controls the growth of algae and most living biota in the aquatic environment.

A key recommendation from the nutrient monitoring strategy is for organization and volunteers to continue and/or join the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) Lake Partner Program (LPP). The LPP is an Ontario-wide, publically funded, free program that collects data about phosphorus, water clarity, calcium and temperature from volunteers. Advantages to the LPP are that is facilitates comparisons with other organizations monitoring on the Bay, as well as MECP and Environment Canada monitoring programs.

In 2015, GBB conducted a review of the 15 nutrient monitoring programs within its boundaries. It determined that current Federal and Provincial monitoring programs are well established and effectively collect water quality data needed for open water and nearshore areas of eastern Georgian Bay.

The review found that monitoring conducted by volunteers, ratepayer associations and townships plays an important and complementary role, and would benefit from standardized guidelines and training, where necessary.

Recommendations from that review identified the need for increased monitoring in enclosed bays and inland lakes where there are no long-term programs in place. GBB facilitated the preparation of an “Enclosed Bays and Inland Lakes Phosphorus Monitoring Guideline” for use by townships, ratepayer associations, and volunteers to facilitate their participation in nutrient monitoring in these areas, to help fill this gap.

The guideline presents a targeted number of recommended monitoring locations for organizations and/or volunteers to fulfill. However, if there is greater capacity to add locations, the guideline presents a protocol for selecting and monitoring these sites.

Where there are additional concerns relating to algal blooms, the collection of additional water quality data should be determined on a case-by-case basis following a review of existing data. The Guideline includes a decision tree to help facilitate how further monitoring could occur under several different scenarios. If participants in monitoring decide to expand their activities beyond the Lake Partner Program, the guideline ensures that information is collected in standardized fashion.

Reports developed as part of GBB’s “Coordinated Nutrient Monitoring Program”: