How do we know?  We test!

Water Monitoring Overview

We monitor to ...

      • Determine the current health of the lake in general.
      • Identify possible locations in the lake that are of concern.
      • Establish a baseline against which possible future changes can be compared.  For example, how will we know if LIPPA is affecting water quality unless we have baseline data ?
      • Provide a factual basis for potential elements of the larger Stewardship Program.
      • Provide basic scientific information that is likely to help to deal with potential impacts of climate change on Skeleton Lake.

FOCA Lake Partners Program (LLP)

The Federation of Ontario Cottagers' (FOCA) Lake Partner Program is a province-wide, volunteer-based, water-quality monitoring program. 

Under this program, samples for the analysis of total phosphorus, calcium and chloride are taken from the lake each May and sent to the Dorset Environmental Science Centre for analysis.  Secchi disk readings to determine water clarity are sent at the same time.

SLCO Water Testing

SLCO volunteers also monitor total coliform (TC) and E. coli (EC) at eight sites on Skeleton Lake three to four times per year. Temperature and Secchi disk readings are taken at the same time.  Sampling locations remain consistent as much as possible to provide long-term records from which trends can be identified.

Lake Partner Program - Skeleton Lake Results

Phosphorous, Calcium and Chloride

Phosphorous, calcium and chloride were traditionally collected once per year, usually at the centre of the lake.  In 2021, testing was increased to four other locations, with all tests taken at the same time.  SLCO is still waiting on 2021 results. (No tests were taken in 2020.)  

Parameter 2021 Readings
 Phosphorus (µg/L)3.9
 Calcium (mg/L)3.78
 Chloride (mg/L)


  • Phosphorus (P) is the key nutrient limiting the growth of algae in Muskoka lakes. This means that as phosphorus levels increase, algae also increases, reducing water clarity.  Suspended algae can result in increased green "slime" on rocks around the shoreline.
  • Calcium (C) is a nutrient that is required by all living organisms.  Declining calcium levels can result in the disappearance of species such as crayfish and water fleas.
  • Chloride (salt) is accumulating in the environment and poses an emerging threat both to ecosystems and human health.
Pay attention to what?

Learn more about the Phosphorus, Calcium and Chloride in our lake.

SLCO Testing - Results

Clarity and Water Temperature

For the Lake Partners Program, Secchi testing is completed in the middle of the lake during May.  Readings are taken in other locations three to four times per year along with temperature, total coliform and E. Coli. 

 Test Number: 2 3 4
 2022 Dates:May 23June 25July 23 Oct 2 

Parameter 1 2 3 4
CLARITY - SECCI DISK (Meters)1191010

TEMPERATURE (Average Degrees F)

 53 75  78 67
  • Clarity refers to water's ability to transmit visible light. Greater clarity means that objects are visible at greater distances through the water.  Clarity is measured using a small black and white Secchi disk that is lowered into the water to determine the maximum depth at which the disk is visible. 
  • Water temperature affects the rate of biological growth in the lake, particularly algae. Increasing temperature also reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen in water, making it less suitable for some species of fish.

Can you see forever?

Learn more about secchi disk readings and clarity of our lake.

Is the water warm yet?

Find out why Skeleton Lake's water temperate if more consistent than other lakes.

Total Coliform and E. Coli

Algae blooms are caused when phosphorus levels rise in combination with elevated coliform counts and warmer temperatures.

2021 Test LocationsEC 1EC 2  EC 3EC 4  TC 1 TC 2 TC 3 TC 4 
 SKL-2 Wilson's Bay 533<313 16 55110 43
 SKL-4 Newport Beach <3 5<3
 8 8 10239  271
 SKL-6 Beaman's Bay58<3
 8 8 6519 13
 SKL-7 Ramah <35<3 8  <3363 8
 SKL-8 Base of High Lake Falls 546<3 5 11 692822
 SKL-9 Kwasind 53<35 3028 39 22
 SKL-10 Old Mill Bay55118  865136 102
 SKL-11 Long Bay <3 5<3
49  222272 127

  • Total Coliform (TC) refers to a class of bacteria associated with decaying plant and animal material. They are a collection of relatively harmless microorganisms that live in large numbers in soils, plants and the intestines of warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals.  
  • Escherichia coli (EC) or E. coli is a type of bacteria present in fecal material from humans, pets, wildlife and farm animals. 

Can I drink the water?

See what you can do and view the test results by location.

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