The Muskoka Lakes Association’s pilot project in water quality research and monitoring was completed in 2003. The 2004 programme therefore represents the MLA’s long-term commitment on behalf of the community to monitoring, protecting and enhancing the environmental resources of the Muskoka Lakes area. For the most part, the 2004 programme closely resembles how the programme is likely to look like into the foreseeable future.
Scientific protocols and analytical procedures will continue to evolve slowly, but were developed to a substantial degree of proficiency through the pilot project. Only one small change to sampling protocol was made in 2004 – the removal of the 80 micron filter from phosphorus sample collection.
Research focused again on the effects of residential development on nearshore water quality (specifically total phosphorus concentration) as recommended following the 2003 programme. Data collected more strongly suggested a difference between nearshore and offshore water quality than did data from 2003 however statistical significance could not be established. After two years of non-statistically significant data, it is concluded that the effects of residential development on nearshore water quality, while suggested by the data collected, are too small to be thoroughly analyzed. The research programme in 2005 will therefore focus on the effects of golf courses and resort development on nearshore water quality.