Helping Pigeon Lake is as easy as A…G…M

The Pigeon Lake Watershed Association held its annual general meeting at the Lakedell Ag facility July 9 with one goal in mind...

The PLWA annual general meeting featured a display of native plants which can be used to control runoff into Pigeon Lake.

The Pigeon Lake Watershed Association held its annual general meeting at the Lakedell Ag facility July 9 with one goal in mind: getting the word out about helping the lake.

Pigeon Lake’s issues with algae blooms over the past several years are well-known. The AGM was a chance for residents, property owners, volunteers and professionals to share information about improving Pigeon Lake’s health.

PLWA president Susan Ellis and PLWA director Jim Webb welcomed everyone to the meeting, which also included Dayton Valley MLA Mark Smith and County of Wetaskiwin reeve Kathy Rooyakkers and many local councilors. A number of informative reports were made by PLWA and some guests.

Report to members

Ellis made a brief report to PLWA members, beginning with monitoring of some dangerous invaders who aren’t going to make Pigeon Lake healthier. “We are starting to see aquatic invasive species,” said Ellis.

She noted the flowering rush, goldfish, Prussian carp and the black bullhead are all a threat to Alberta freshwater. “They create havoc and they’re nothing but trouble,” said Ellis. She noted boat owners are now required to keep their craft clean, and a “Don’t let it loose” campaign has been launched to address problems like goldfish being let loose in the wild. Ellis noted ongoing monitoring is being done at the summer villages.

She noted the Lions club is building bird boxes for kids to paint. Also, “Love the Lake” day will be held Aug. 20.

Ellis said PLWA is encouraging surrounding municipalities to approve by-laws that control development within 800 meters of the lake.

In-lake progress report

Brian Waterhouse of the Alliance of Pigeon Lake Municipalities gave a report on the status of Pigeon Lake. “There is no quick fix to the lake,” said Waterhouse. “It’s going to take a lot of time to get the scales tipped back.”

The APLM is involved in actual in-lake projects, addressing the intake of nutrients which affect the lake’s health and contribute to algae blooms.

Waterhouse said the APLM looks at different approaches as different as chemical approaches, zoo plankton and a harvester.

He noted people who live around the lake have an important role to play. “We need to look at what we’re doing as an individual on each of our lots,” said Waterhouse.

Water management plan

Bob Gibbs, chair of the Pigeon Lake Water Management Plan and a resident of Silver Beach, gave an update on the plan and an introduction to the new Clean Runoff Guide. He said the guide is designed to be user-friendly and address a major issue: reducing the lake’s excess diet of nutrients which contributes to the algae bloom problem and means reducing runoff.

He also discussed a two-year grant the group received for the Healthy Lake Clean Runoff project.

Ellis said the new guide is an excellent resource for property owners who want some simple advice on reducing their impact on the lake. “It’s fabulous,” she said, noting it was written by Leta Van Duin. “It is so user-friendly.”

Ellis said development contributes hugely to runoff issues in Pigeon Lake, and development includes lawns. The clean runoff guide is available around Pigeon Lake and also on the PLWA website.

On-the-ground

The PLWA’s staff member Elynne Murray reported about on-the-ground Clean Runoff Project. She said demo sites at Ma-me-o and Mission offer residents a firsthand look at clean runoff solutions. She also discussed lake-wide campaigns such as the rain barrel campaign, featuring a barrel that helps control mosquitoes.

On display outside the hall was a wide selection of native species of plants, shrubs and flowers that help filter the lake and keep nasty nutrients out.

AGM jobs

Besides presentations on lake health and studies, the association also notched off regular AGM duties. New directors were elected, retiring directors were recognized and financial statements were presented.