2014 muskrat watershed water monitoring

2. Snake River sampling locations

MC-04: Mouth of Mink Creek (utme:344915 utmn5052044)

SNR-05: Snake River above Mink Creek 

OAD-01: Mouth of O’Gorman Agnew Drain

SNR-06: Snake River above O’Gorman Agnew Drain 

NT-01: Mouth of North Tributary

SNR-07: Snake River Above Upper Harris Creek Drain (and also below North Tributary)

HC-03: Mouth of Upper Harris Creek Drain 

SNR-08: Snake River Below Upper Harris Creek Drain

View snake in a larger map

3. Sampling protocol

There are 8 sites. The 8 sites will probably be sampled as you go downstream in the order below. You will need 32 * 500ml bottles and also 8 small isotope bottles. I will have all of the bottles with me prelabelled


Ole, you asked about the preservative. Not possible to pre-add because you should be rinsing the bottles with sample water prior to putting in the sample. I can preserve as soon as you get the samples to shore for me. I will also pre-mark those ones that require preservative and it would be most beneficial if you could put those in a separate cooler so that it is easy to add the acid once you get to shore.

There will be 7 stops (28 pre labelled 500ml bottles, 7 small bottles for isotopes, and a few spares) and I will provide maps by email shortly. I will send you the coordinates but will also give you one of my gps units  with the coordinates already entered. It will make your life easier. My gps units are simple to use. I'm assuming you are ok with UtMs?

I'm going to emphasize that we cannot collect any more samples than this. I am away tues-Friday this week and there will be no TSS analysis done by the college students. There is no point collecting additional samples for TSS as they will not keep for more than 7 days and I will not get to them before Monday. For the 7 we collect, they will go to MOe or analysis that will include TSS.

Ole, I've reviewed our discussions and have included the mouth of the 4 drains and also sites directly along the snake. I have a feeling that there may not be water in the drains all year so I'm going to take a chance and establish a few more sites with this in mind. We may drop some sites later in the year because they provide no added value, or there may be no water to collect. I'm hoping we won't go over our limit with MOe:)

Great that you are planning to collect samples, very grateful to have you take on this role and I'm glad that you contacted me. It's very important to plan the sample collection so that the samples can be sent immediately once collected as they can only be stored, even in a fridge, for 24 hours. So any sampling that you plan to do for this project needs to be well coordinated and you need the correct bottles. Neither I nor the lab will accept any samples that are not correctly logged and stored as there can be no assurance about the results. I am going to be quite particular with the management of our water samples, otherwise we will be challenged or get erroneous data.

If you are going out then it would be appreciated if you could collect a full suite of samples and not just TSS. The samples we send to Toronto are analyzed for TSS and while it's not that hard a process to do ourselves, it is best to have them perform that analysis if they are willing. This would mean filling 4 500ml bottles and 1 small one at each site, as well as recording site data and taking a GPS to correctly geo-reference the sites. You will also need a waterproof camera which I can supply so that you can take photos of the sites. If you need help with the GPS, I can give a quick lesson.

So, I assume you are planning on collecting samples at the sites we've identified along the river. I will name those sites, put them in the GPS, and then you can confirm the locations once you get on site. As it happens we will also be collecting samples on Monday as well, so the best approach is to meet with you somewhere accessible to the river so that we can get them ASAP and add in the preservative. I must have samples back to Pembroke by 1pm to get them out to Purolator. Can you possibly coordinate your trip to align with these timelines? How are you getting from the take out back to the put-in?

You should also have a cooler in the boat with you so that you can maintain the samples at a cool temperature. I can provide one if you need it. And in your case, since you will be in a boat, I will give you some nitrile gloves to wear while sampling. There are some considerations to sampling from a boat especially in avoiding any influence from the boat which we can discuss.

Let me know what works w.r.t. a rendezvous somewhere on Monday. Shandy and/or Julie will be with me, so they are also copied on this message.

Attached, some work by Len. A bit over my head, but ideally we would be interested in tracing nutrient sources from the two major inputs into the lake. We know most of the nutrients are coming from the Snake River, but tracing those sources via isotopes would be quite interesting.


Mapping for this entire area can be visualized using this online mapping tool. You may already be aware of it, and my apologies for any repetition. I am fairly confident I can have shp/tif files for most of these layers including the aerial photography which you will find at the bottom of the list. I believe it is 4-6m resolution and perhaps better in some spots. It’s the highest we have and there is a new 2010 version in the works. We have coarse level drainage basin delineation but if you have experience using arc-hydro or something similar, I suspect I can get the layers that you need and you could do basin delineation at a much more suitable scale for this project. I am GIS proficient so can get what you need in whatever formats you might want, but not familiar with arc-hydro.



The site can be a bit daunting, so best bet is to start with the Finding Features/Civic Address option with the following directions


For the East end of muskrat lake:  civic Address 139 Foresters Falls Rd

For the location where the Snake River enters the lake: civic address 104 Faught Rd should get you going, you can go back up the Snake river from there as it’s on the back end of that property.


Once zoomed in,  select the Map Layers option on the side layers menu. The option to toggle on the aerials is at the very bottom of the list and you may have to toggle off the layers above to see the aerial imagery (which locals here refer to as the  DRAPE imagery).



As well, this lake experiences algal blooms, some of which are known toxin producers. It will be possible to get algal samples (we’ve collected for a few years now) and ideally it would be very interesting to look at nutrient assimilation in those algae and the source of those nutrients. Blue greens are Cyanobacteria and are N fixers. When supplies of N in the water get low, they can pull from the atmosphere .  P however is a limiting nutrient. Understanding the interplay between N and P (and potentially looking at those N:P ratios) and  the conditions under which N becomes limiting would be of interest. Not sure if this has any bearing on the isotope work. I have a former colleague who is the foremost cdn authority on algal species.


I like the groundwater influence slant. It was suggested to us that we should look into Thermal Imaging technologies in summer to gauge those influences…is this something that you have done or are able to do or know anything about……remind me to ask on Tuesday!

Ok great.  I am not seeking new funds at the moment - this would be purely opportunistic but I think very worthwhile.  The isotopes can be useful to look at temporal variability of water sources at event or seasonal time scales which can then be correlated to water quality.  Also potentially useful to tease out groundwater contributions to streamflow.  I will think more about all of this before tuesday.



I’m very appreciative of the corrections, additions and explanations. Thanks for taking the time to review.


I am peripherally aware of some of the isotopic work done by Len Wassenaar for Lake Winnipeg  (although he primarily focuses on wildlife), but no expert for sure. How great that you will be able to do analysis at your university.


We would be happy to collect samples especially over the summer when our students are hired. If you are seeking funding from elsewhere for that work, we could certainly provide letters of support and agree to collect the samples as a contribution. Just let me know.


What would be the outcome of the O19 and Deuterium work? Can we use this technology to track nitrate and even better, phosphate throughout the system and perhaps look at sources? If you are pursuing an Ottawa River Watershed picture, we can also collect here in Pembroke where it meets the River and potentially can get samples in Petawawa at the input there. I suspect AECL also collects samples in Deep and you can probably get their data quite readily. Collecting samples at the Muskrat Hydrometric station which does feed into the river here at the college,  is also pretty easy if you need direct ties to discharge.


So much to learn, so little time J


I have modified your spreadsheet a bit (the key part was correct) to show the way we do it here based on the SpC measurements over time.  We use a conversion factor of 2100 which converts the injected salt mass to an effective "mass" of SpC and then do the calculation for there in SpC units.  Other things I changed: the SpC at time = 0 and 55 (it would not be 0 since there is usually a background amount) and I added the injected salt mass in g, which varies depending on the size of the stream.  I usually pre-weigh baggies of salt ion 50g increments and use 1, 2 or 3 bags depending on stream size, sometimes more.

The modified version is in the second worksheet.

We can this and other things discuss on tuesday.  Lots of ideas.  I am quite interested in the project.  If you would be open to some small involvement by me, I would be interested in having water samples collected by your technicians for isotopic analysis (O18 and deuterium) which we will soon be able to analyze in our lab here.  It is very easy to collect and there is no preservation required. This might add a nice component to the study.   Another idea is to use an autosampler at one or two sites to capture the event pulses, or maybe you already are planning this?   Lastly, if you decide to use pressure transducers, you can get some that actually log SpC as well as stream stage.  This can be useful to get a sense a sense of when pollutant pulses are happening.  I know these things depend on budget too, of course....just some ideas.
Talk soon,


john almstedt,
Apr 20, 2014, 7:28 PM
john almstedt,
Apr 19, 2014, 8:00 PM