Lacombe County on board with watershed improvements

Lacombe County councillors carried the recommendations for the second phase of the lake management plan.

Lacombe County councillors carried the recommendations for the second phase of the lake management plan – the Cumulative Effects Management System (CEMS) last Thursday.

The recommendations include the county’s involvement with the Intermunicipal Development Plan, supporting research in water quality, systematically managing information and a rural extension programs for the watershed area.

The main goal of this second phase is to implement changes to improve the water quality in the Sylvan Lake watershed, said Lacombe County environmental co-ordinator Blayne West.

These changes include development control, educating the community, and improved data results.

“All the recommendations basically look at just informing us better, to make better management decisions as a whole,” West said.

There are eight municipalities involved in this project, including Red Deer County, Town of Sylvan Lake, Lacombe County and the summer villages of Norglenwold, Half Mood Bay, Sunbreaker Cove, Birchcliff and Jarvis Bay.

The Intermunicipal Development Plan was recommended to standardize what will take place in the watershed for each municipality.

“This is a step toward trying to make it standardized across the entire watershed,” West said.

The other recommendations allow the project to study and observe what is already in place.

“We are developing more areas in the watershed and we need to be aware of the impact of those developments as we move forward,” West said.

Reaching out and engage residents living in the watershed area on agricultural and environmental issues was also a recommendation.

Phosphorous and nitrogen have been found in the lake and the plan aims to identify where the points of origin are, as phosphorous and nitrogen affect the levels of blue-green algae in the lake.

“We need to be clarifying that we feel that everybody in the watershed has a part in it,” West said. “So there is no finger pointing to say who has more of a issue and who’s affecting it.”

This second phase of the plan is a long process as all eight municipalities have to look through the recommendations, and report their agreements, disagreements or any discrepancies they see.

“The things that can come up can be very different from each municipality, and it’s a very tedious process,” West said. “What’s coming out of it, we don’t know yet.”

West said the most difficult thing about the whole process is that all eight municipalities, including councillors and stakeholders, have to agree on all the same things and everyone has their own agendas and priorities.

“Bringing them all together to make those decisions to how to move it forward is difficult  and it takes a lot of time, so you need to be patient with the process,” West said.

The total budget for the second phase of this project is about $50,000, money derived from each of the municipalities.

West said the most important thing people should know about is being aware that the Sylvan Lake Management Committee as a whole is working hard towards taking action to better the watershed and to manage it properly.

It will take a very long time before action on the ground is seen, she said, but this is due to having so many people involved in the process of making that decision.

“There is action, it’s just going to take a while.”

 

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