What’s that foam doing on the lake?

Area residents may sometimes notice foaming around the shoreline of Lake Windermere, which can cause concern.

Area residents may sometimes notice foaming around the shoreline of Lake Windermere, which can cause concern.

However, most foam observed in lakes and streams is a product of nature and not necessarily an indicator of pollution.

The foaming of surface waters is not a new phenomenon.

Foam is created when decomposing plants and animals release organic compounds into the water. This causes the surface tension of the water (the attraction of surface molecules to each other) to decrease, allowing air to mix in, which causes the bubbles. Many people believe that detergents cause lake foam. However, household detergents quickly lose their sudsing ability. The foam sometimes visible on the shoreline surface of Lake Windermere is naturally occurring.

Natural foam has an earthy or fishy aroma and may be off-white, tan, or brown in colour. Detergent foam, in contrast, will have a noticeable perfume smell, and will usually be whiter in colour.

This is the first in the series of educational articles about Lake Windermere. Study up, because there will be a trivia quiz (with prizes) at the Lake Windermere Regatta on Kinsmen Beach, July 23 from 2 to 6 p.m. For more information about Lake Windermere or the Regatta, email  info@lakeambassadors.ca, or call 250-341-6898.

Megan Kinley and Kirsten Harma

Lake Windermere Ambassadors


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