Lake Murray Association Water Testing Program
The Lake Murray Association (LMA) has been testing the waters of Lake Murray since 2006. The program was set up to monitor the water quality over time to determine if there are water quality issues that require LMA to take action to keep Lake Murray from deteriorating.
What is involved in the water testing program?
LMA samples five times a year and we are sampling every other month throughout the year. Samples are taken from 6 locations on the lake. At each location two samples are taken, one for total phosphorous levels and one for E. Coli levels. The total phosphorous levels let us monitor the level of nutrients in the water. These nutrients are required by all the plant and animals in the lake; however, when these nutrients become overabundant they promote overgrowth of plants and algae resulting in a lake that is unpleasant to recreate in and potentially toxic. The E. Coli bacteria are monitored because they are considered an indicator species for a group of pathogens associated with waste water and sewage.
Prior to sampling day the locations to be sampled are determined. This determination takes into account historical sites that we are monitoring for long term changes in the water and current events that need monitoring such as aquatic weed overgrowth, algae blooms or excessive erosion from construction sites.
In preparation for sampling day, containers for the water samples need to be obtained, labeled and chain of custody paperwork filled out.
On sampling day a cooler gets filled with ice to preserve the samples and it is off to the first sampling site. We collect ‘grab’ samples which is dunking a container in the water rinsing it to prevent contamination from the previous sample and refilling the container and pouring the water into the sample bottles. The time of collection is recorded on the chain of custody forms and the samples buried in the ice in the cooler. Then it is on to the next site. Once all the samples are collected they are taken to a certified laboratory and the chain of custody for the samples is signed over to the lab for analysis. After circumnavigating the lake and covering about 120 miles to collect samples, it is time to wait for the results.