Media made gaffe with wrong photo: Pigeon Lake stakeholders

Photo of algae bloom with bacteria story created confusion, say community leaders

A recent news story about the swim advisory at Zeiner Park on the north shore of Pigeon Lake has residents and visitors frustrated.

According to Deputy Mayor of Crystal Springs, Ron LaJeunesse, “As a community we take pride in our beaches and swim areas at Pigeon Lake. The municipalities and the beach staff around the lake are working closely with Alberta Health Services to post timely swim warnings when water testing presents a potential health event.

“Water quality monitoring at any natural swimming site, is an important part of looking after human health,” says LaJeunesse. At lakes across Alberta there are currently more than 35 swim warnings in effect.

While testing does not identify the exact cause of the warning at Zeiner Park, it seems to be the same issue as many other beaches in Alberta and across the country this wet and cool summer. In other cases, heavy rainfall combined with a large presence of shoreline birds on the beach has been sited as a likely contributor.

Catherine Peirce, Executive Director of the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association (PLWA), took pictures at Zeiner Park the day the warning was posted. She found clear water and a beach packed with birds. “This is the only swim advisory at Pigeon Lake that I am aware of this summer. The frustration is that the article focused on algae blooms and included a stock image of algae when first posted. This was not an accurate representation of the event,” says Peirce. The image of the algae bloom has been removed after feedback from various community members.

The PLWA is an environmental group supported by all of the local municipalities at Pigeon Lake. Water quality monitoring is a primary strategy outlined in the Pigeon Lake Watershed Management Plan, a science-based plan that focuses on lake stewardship and working together for the preservation and protection of Pigeon lake and it’s watershed.

“Testing at Pigeon Lake by the Alberta Lake Management Society and Alberta Health Services is proof that the lake has been experiencing good recreational water quality” says Bob Gibbs, Steering Committee Chair, Pigeon Lake Watershed Management Plan. “We are thankful that the media sends out advisories and hopes that we can continue to work together to provide timely information about the health of Pigeon Lake,” says Gibbs.

Region Chamber of Commerce representative, Tom Karpa says that “While rain seems to have deterred some visitors to the lake, the overall good condition of the lake in the past two summers has made for many happy fisherman, boaters and swimmers.”

-Submitted by Pigeon Lake Watershed Association

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