Lake Water Quality Information

We are fortunate in Fifty Lakes to have two programs for testing the water in our lakes. We are also very lucky to have volunteers that conduct the required water tests for these programs. Butterfield, Eagle, East Fox, Kego, Mitchell and West Fox Lakes are the six lakes that are tested.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) administers one of the programs and the Whitefish Property Owners Association (WAPOA) administers the other program. Both programs are conducted bi-weekly or monthly from May to September each year.

The MCPA Program & Water Visibility Charts

The MPCA Program, which is called The Citizen’s Lake Monitoring Program, is conducted twice a month. This program monitors water clarity and volunteers use a Secchi disk to conduct this test. The Secchi disk is a white round disk that is lowered into the water. When the disk can no longer be seen from the surface, the number of feet is recorded and reported to the MPCA. Volunteers report their bi-monthly reading to the MPCA at the end of the season and the MPCA records the data for each lake on a web site. Learn more about Secchi testing.

Click on Water Visibility Charts (Secchi disk readings or tests) to see the results. As you see, there are variations in the readings on the six FLPOA lakes.

The WAPOA Program & Water Quality Map

The WAPOA Program is conducted monthly from May to September. This program involves testing three things:

1.     Water Clarity using a Seechi disk.

2.     Chlorophill-a. A sample of water is taken and tested in a state certified lab.

3.     Phosphorus. A sample of water is also taken and tested at a state certified lab.

This test is called The Carlson Trophic State Index (TSI). A number is derived from this test that indicates the trophic level of a lake. The trophic level is the amount of nutrients in the water.

Click on the Water Quality Map and look at the different TSI numbers on the 35 or so lakes that WAPOA tests. These results cover from 2011 to 2016. Notice the range in TSI values of the six lakes in Fifty Lakes.

This map also indicates the connection between many of the lakes. Brooks, streams, creeks and rivers carry water from one lake to another. This is why it is important to monitor the lakes around us. We are all tied together and make up part of the Pine River Watershed. When you look at the water clarity or visibility results, the higher the number the better the water quality. Or, when you look at the TSI results, the lower the number the better the water quality.

TSI Numbers: What do the TSI numbers mean?

Less than 30: The lake has clear water and oxygen throughout the year.

30-40: The lake has clear water but some lakes are low in oxygen in the lower layer or level.

40-50: Water moderately clear, increased shortage of oxygen in the lower level and temporary algae and aquatic plant problems.

50-60: Decreased water clarity and increased algae and aquatic plant problems.

More than 70: Extreme algae and aquatic plant problems.

Phosphorus is one nutrient that is the main focus when we are looking at water quality. When there is an increase of phosphorus there is an increase in the algae and with the increased algae the water clarity deceases. One pound of phosphorus equals 500 pounds of algae!

If you have any questions or comments or would like to help with one of these programs, please call or email a FLPOA board member.