Water Quality

Water Quality and Clarity

Water transparency is a quick and easy measurement that tells scientists a lot about a lake's water quality. First it indicates the amount of light penetration into a lake. Second, Secchi transparency provides an indirect measure of the amount of suspended material in the water, which in many cases is an indication of the amount of algae in the water.

Click on the Lakes Monitoring or Secchi Readings tab in the left drop down menu for more information and links to our water quality data.

Volunteers collect water transparency data using an 8-inch, circular, all-white metal plate attached to a calibrated rope. This tool is called a Secchi disk. About once a week during the summer, volunteers boat to a designated spot on their lakes to collect transparency readings. The volunteer lowers the disk into the water until it is no longer visible and notes that depth from the markings on the rope. The disk is then lowered a little further and then raised back up until it is just visible. This second depth reading is averaged with the first, and the final number is recorded.

Phosphorous and chorophyll readings are taken by gathering a water sample and sending it to a laboratory for analysis. RMB Labs has performed our water analysis since 2007. These readings indicate the quality of the water body by indicating how much of these pollutants are present. For example, too much phosporous in the water body can cause green algae bloom. The sources for phosphorous could be fertilizer run-off from lawns, failing septic systems, and other sources. We monitor these indicators to ensure our lakes continue to be healthy.

The association has volunteers that perform these readings and gather water samples. We pay for the laboratory analysis, but some of the costs are reimbursed through grants or other measures.

We would like to extend a huge "Thank You" to these volunteers who commit a great deal of time to these efforts.

    • Cooper - Russ Link (Camp Olson) gathers the water samples.
    • Little Boy - Randy Helland gathers the water samples and also performs the secchi readings.
    • Wabedo (NE basin) - Joe and Irene Maertens gather and perform the water samples, Joe Bloch performs the secchi readings.
    • Wabedo (SW Basin) - Tom and Pam Fields perform the secchi readings and gather the water samples.
    • Spring Creek - Tom and Pam Fields perform the secchi readings and gather the water samples.
    • Little Boy inlet and outlet, Wabedo Creek - Kathy Wagner gathers the water samples.
    • Little Boy River (Sioux Camp Road) - Kathy Wagners performs bi-weekly water tests and submits information to the MNPCA.

In addition, the association also monitors lake levels. This reading is taken from a post on the Little Boy bridge. Mary Jane Black performs these readings.


In 2008, we also started tested inlet/outlet streams for phosphorous. The streams are Wabedo Creek and Spring Creek which feed into Wabedo Lake and the inlet/outlet to Little Boy. In the results below you can see Spring Creek has a much higher phosphorous reading than Wabedo Creek. We believe this is due to Spring Creek draining more wetland areas and thus the higher readings may be normal (higher phosphorous levels found naturally in wetlands). Please note the table also shows data from 1994 when the inlet streams were also tested during the Middle Boy River Project. Another interesting observation - in 14 years the phosphorous level in Wabedo Creek has varied dramatically but the last few readings are similar to 1994 (not sure why?). Another piece of good news - the outlet readings for Little Boy from 1994 compare favorably to our recent test results.

And one last tidbit - water coming from Wabedo into Little Boy has more phosphorous than the water going out of Little Boy. This indicates Little Boy is "cleaning" the water before it leaves (the phosphorous is being trapped in the lake bottom). This also indicates you should not cause the lake bottom to be disturbed. Those bigger motors should be run slowly in the shallow areas.

Another interesting statistic for water quality information is the "Water Residence Times". This is an estimate of the time it would take for the water in the lake basin to be replaced and the nutrients flushed out. (This information was found in the lake association files from a study in the early 1990's).