Mostly sunny, sunny, very warm, clouds and sunshine, times of sun and clouds. Those are some of the expletives used by accuweather.com to describe the next week or so of hot weather headed our way.
Perfect weather for growth of a toxic plant which could render our lake unusable. It feeds on the cocktail of chemicals which seep into our lake from surrounding properties.
The last stretch of blistering warmth prompted a string of warnings from Alberta Health Services (AHS) about blue-green algae blooms. So far this year advisories have been issued for 18 Alberta lakes; ten in the north zone, one in the Edmonton zone (Lake Isle), four in the Central zone (Wizard Lake, Pine Lake, Coal Lake, Pigeon Lake), and three in the Calgary zone. (http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/1926.asp)
Do not drink water, do not swim or wade, avoid contact, do not feed fish from these lake to your pets, limit your own consumption of fish from these lakes. Those are the warnings.
“Blue-green algae can produce a toxin (poison) that can cause serious illness to animals or humans who drink or have skin contact with water containing this toxin,” warns AHS.
Just five days before the advisory for Pigeon Lake, the Summer Village of Grandview, on the lake’s south shore “became the first Alberta municipality to pass a bylaw banning the use of lawn fertilizers and herbicides within its municipal boundaries.
“Council members based their decision on widespread agreement in the scientific community that improvements in water quality can only be achieved by the control of what goes into the lake,” said a news release on the decision. “The prohibition of lawn fertilizers next to a water body should be a “no brainer”, in the words of one lake steward.
At Sylvan Lake we haven’t had an issue with blue-green algae yet. However, the town is taking a proactive approach in one area to limit the potential. At their last meeting councillors awarded a contract to consulting services required for restoration of a wetland bio-filter on Golf Course Creek at the outlet to Marina Bay. The wetland is planned for the area adjacent to houses on the east side of Willow Springs Crescent and south of Lakeshore Drive.
In his report, David Brand, director of public works, wrote, “water quality in Marina Bay has deteriorated over the past decade. Maximum water temperature has increased in duration and frequency and dissolved nutrient concentrations (phosphorus and nitrogen) have increased in Marina Bay …
“… Blue-green algal blooms have the opportunity to exist in Marina Bay due to the increased temperature and nutrient rich, oxygen depleted water chemistry.”
Also around our pristine lake, Sylvan Lake Watershed Stewardship Society is spearheading the Living By Water program. Landowners can take advantage of an on-site visit by Nature Alberta representatives who help them understand the effects of their activities on the water they live beside. This program is in its fifth year, said organizer Steven Johnson earlier this year.
Our question, however, is that since we’re a rapidly growing community, and a hub of tourist activity, should we not be taking more proactive steps to protect our lake? Such as a ban on fertilizers and herbicides similar to Grandview, and other eastern Canadian communities? We believe more can and should be done.