LOCH-TOBER Continues with Vancouver Lake

Earlier in our LOCH-TOBER series, we looked at Herrera’s lake management solutions for Lake Marcel. The solutions for the challenges facing Lake Marcel include nutrient and algae control, water quality monitoring, and community engagement. Vancouver Lake has faced similar problems but requires a unique management plan for its environment, ecosystem, community, and stakeholders. Explore how our lake experts address these similar problems while tailoring the management plan to Vancouver Lake!

Vancouver Lake lost its luster decades ago due to persistent cyanobacteria blooms and other water quality concerns (e.g., fecal bacteria contamination, low water levels), brought about in part by extensive manipulation of its shores and watershed, and from the growth of a metropolitan area. Herrera addressed these far-reaching issues by developing an adaptive lake management plan based on:

  • Stakeholder Engagement: Inviting the public to participate in developing lake goals and engaging with key technical groups ensured Herrera’s Plan prioritized public needs and considered administrative challenges in the long-term restoration of Vancouver Lake.
  • Data-Driven Evaluations of Success: Using extensive historical monitoring data and the latest technology, Herrera’s team of experts created a hydrologic and water quality model to understand how effective potential management strategies may be, assess the costs and overall feasibility of those actions, and ensure the success of future management efforts.
  • Algae Bloom Prevention: Strategizing both long-term and short-term actions to reduce the magnitude and frequency of algae blooms protects Vancouver Lake and its users. Recommendations included enlargement of the existing Flushing Channel to increase flow through the lake and flush out the algae; leveraging ongoing watershed management to reduce phosphorus pollution; treating the lake with phosphorus inactivation products prior to Flushing Channel construction; and occasional algaecide treatments at the swimming beach if needed to prevent risks to public health from cyanotoxins and coli fecal bacteria.
  • Comprehensive Planning: By addressing historic barriers to lake management at Vancouver Lake, such as funding, leadership, and dynamic floodplain ecology, this project achieved more in two years than in the previous 30 years, culminating in this off-the-shelf Plan for immediate implementation.
  • Proven Adaptive Strategies: Establishing long-term monitoring programs to inform science-based decision making, and using demonstrated structural procedures will allow lake managers to track environmental conditions, adapt to future needs, and ensure that Vancouver Lake stays vibrant and free of toxic blooms for years to come.


Today, Vancouver Lake stands as a testament to the capability of an engaged community, of powerful data analysis tools, and effective partnerships to strengthen the success of lake management and restoring the natural balance of aquatic ecosystems.


Contributing Authors: Rob ZisetteKatie Sweeney and Tim Clark