Volunteers Gather Valuable
Water Quality Data
By Judith Grant
If a Volunteer Water Sampling Program is to be successful, many people have to undertake a long list of tasks and do them well. Preparation begins long before the summer arrives with organizational e-mails and phone calls to the laboratory that analyzes the samples, to the Midland Health Unit, to the Township’s Water Department and to all shore associations in the Township. Associations then find volunteers to take water samples once each week of the 9-week summer. These individuals assemble at Balm Beach on the last Saturday in June to pick up their summer’s supply of sterile bottles and official forms and to be instructed by a representative from the Midland Health Unit in proper sampling technique and in filling out the forms.
This summer, some 47 individuals waded out to chest depth at 28 beaches and took a total of 791 samples of swimming water at appointed locations first thing in the morning after each summer weekend, no matter what the weather. And there were a couple of chilly, windy mornings. Many of these individuals took samples at more than one location. Peter Klym, at Kingswood Acres, tackled the most demanding sampling route. He took two samples at Kingswood South, just north of the 19th Concession, two more at widely spaced locations off Kingswood North, and three more at points along Sandy Bay. There was a lot of driving and wading and getting chilled and driving and wading some more for this sampler!
Once the samples had been taken, they were put into the samplers’ refrigerators or into coolers under a frozen block to await collection by a water captain. The four captains drove much of the shore of the Township, including Farlain Lake, transferring bags of coded sample bottles and forms into large coolers, which were eventually dropped off at the Township Office. The NW Captain had the assistance of the Program’s youngest volunteer, her granddaughter, 8-year-old Julia Loach. Their pickup route extended from the 12th Concession to the Cedar Point area in the 21st Concession. Julia read out the directions as they drove, checked off names, retrieved bags of bottles and forms from coolers on decks, and packed them into a single large cooler. Her participation speeded the whole process considerably.
The Township’s Water Department then transported the large coolers to the laboratory in Orillia (the same laboratory that analyzes samples from the Township’s many drinking water systems), usually getting them there between 1 and 2 pm.
The following afternoon, the laboratory faxed the results to the program coordinator, who then transferred them into a single e-mail, which went out to the samplers and their beach presidents.
Now that the summer is over, all the data is being entered into a single large spreadsheet, along with the results from samples taken at public beaches by the Health Unit, and at Awenda Provincial Park and Camp Marygrove by park and camp staff.
The data gathered in 2001 – the year the first comprehensive examination of the Bay water quality was undertaken – gave us an authoritative basis for asking the Township to investigate the sources of Bay water pollution in several areas. This year’s second comprehensive look at water quality along all the shores of Tiny Township should allow us to see whether any new problem areas have emerged, whether old problems are getting better or worse, and whether general water quality is improving or worsening.
Once all the results are entered, a comprehensive spreadsheet will be posted on www.tinycottager.org under “Water Report.” And in due course, there’ll be a report about what the data tells us.
|2006 WATER SAMPLING
Midland Heath Unit