Conserving a Lake

Wabamun Lake in winter

The 50 year-old Wabamun power plant will be decommissioned in March 2010.

In my January Alberta Outdoorsmen column, I discuss the difficulties of managing a lake and its watershed to preserve its biological and recreational value. I live near Wabamun Lake, about an hour’s drive west of Edmonton, Alberta, and serve on the Wabamun Watershed Management Council, as the representative from the Stony Plain Fish and Game Association. The council was formed by Alberta Environment to help sort out what needs to be done to keep Wabamun a healthy lake.

One of the problems with managing a lake in Alberta is the number of jurisdictions involved in its management. No one government has authority over the entire lake. So, it is important to get as many people to the table as possible to discuss issues; and that is what the council is all about.

One of the issues the lake will face in the near future is the decommissioning of the TransAlta power plant near the village of Wabamun. The plant was built in 1956 and used the lake as its cooling pond (back in the days when environmental impacts were not a large concern). As a result, a portion of the lake has remained open (free of ice) during the winter for over 50 years. The problem is that in the winter of 2010-11 will be the first time the lake will be completely ice covered, and less oxygen will be entering the lake as a result. How that will affect the health of the lake, no one knows. However, Wabamun is one of the healthiest lakes in the province, despite the CN train oil spill in 2005; and as long as nutrient loading can be controlled, it could remain that way.

The fisheries are a concern of many, and I explain why the Fish and Wildlife Division has left a “catch-and-release” regulation on the lake.

So, what’s wrong with that?

www.donmeredith.ca

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About Don Meredith

I am a writer and biologist living in Alberta, Canada. I write a monthly column for the Alberta Outdoorsmen magazine.
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