Summary: Kamaniskeg Lake Source Characterization Study

Madawaska Valley has just released an in-depth study of Kamaniskeg Lake.

The purpose was to determine the causes of the impaired water quality detected at the municipal water treatment plant. Water quality in the North Basin is currently experiencing elevated levels of colour, turbidity and nutrients that are challenging to treat at the Water Treatment Plant.
The Study uses historical, current and predictive information to help understand the water quality of the Lake. Extensive physical, chemical, and bacteriological data was collected through the study. Surface water and sediment samples were analyzed from 22 locations during the spring, summer and fall of 2009. The hydraulic conditions of the Lake were monitored and modeled by Environment Canada.

The research shows the primary contributors of nutrients to Kamaniskeg are the creeks and tributaries which drain the surrounding landscape, the septic systems along the short of the Lake, and the Barry’s Bay Waste Water Treatment Plant. It is well known that increases in nutrient concentrations, particularly phosphorus can lead to eutrophication.

Eutrophication can lead to a loss of enjoyment of the water for recreational, aesthetic and economic uses. The treatment of eutrophic water as a drinking source is costly, and the quality of treated water produced is reduced; often tasting organic.

The research suggests that the main source of water quality impairment is the drainage from the surrounding landscape that enters the lake through several tributaries.

Water quality in the tributaries contains significantly greater concentrations of nutrients, suspended solids, colour,
turbidity and bacteria than the receiving water
within the lake.  The 4 tributaries are:

  • Cybulski Creek: Discharges into lake 350 meters west of the public beach. Connects Cybulski Lake, Drohan Lake & other lakes/ponds. Report estimates this creek contributes about 3x more phosphorus than existing waste water treatment plant (WWTP). High coli form concentrations in some samples indicate fecal contamination by humans or pets. It is the worst of the 4 tributaries.
  • Carson Creek: Passes under Kartuzy Road. Connects with Kulas, Buch and Trout Lake. Report estimates Carson contributes 50% more phosphorus than existing WWTP.
  • Biernacki Creek:  Passes under Siberia Road. Discharges on west side of causeway. Total phosphorus exceeded interim PWQOs 2 of 4 samples.  Could be causing impairment at WTP due to location of outlet.
  • Muskrat Creek: Originates in Muskrat Lake. Passes beneath Combermere Road. Tests show there is a significant source of nutrient contribution on waterway. Due to low flow volumes the impact to Kamaniskeg is minor. If water flows were to increase, Muskrat Creek would be considered a major contributor of nutrients.

Septic systems surrounding the lakeshore are likely having an impact on phosphorus concentrations in the Lake. The proximity of the septic systems to the lakeshore and the topography and geology of the surrounding landscape are not conductive to phosphorus retention.

Though water quality is presently good in Lake Kamaniskeg, it is important that nutrient contributions be reduced as much as possible in order to prevent potential future problems as a result of nutrient loading. Impacts of nutrient loading would likely be detected in the north bay of the Lake first due to reduced flushing rate as a result of the topographical layout of the Lake and a lack of significant inflow and outflow.

The report concludes with recommendations. Here is a summary:

  1. Decrease loading of suspended solids. This will maintain water temperatures, protect fish habitat, decreasing nutrient inputs will slow excessive plant growth in shallow areas. Plant and maintain vegetative buffers. Leave shoreline vegetation intact. Follow best management practices during road construction and maintenance.
  2. Decrease Nutrient Inputs from Septic Systems. Inspection, maintenance and pumping are critical. Use environmentally friendly products.
  3. Decrease Nutrient Inputs from Livestock. Implement environmental best practices. Follow the Nutrient Management Act (2002). Discourage grazing of livestock on land directly upgradient of the Lake and tributaries.
Summary: Kamaniskeg Lake Source Characterization Study
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