Opinion Letters

Act wisely for lake's future

Dear Editor,

I was encouraged by Lacombe Mayor Steve Christie’s article in this week’s edition, in which he said, “A free exchange and discussion of ideas can also lead to creative solutions to issues facing the community”. Then I read Melodie Stol’s (Mayor for the Town of Blackfalds) letter to the editor.

I was discouraged by the seemingly lack of discussion with the public and the implication that a recent petition by people concerned about potentially polluting Lacombe Lake as the work of a group of NIMBYists.

I read and signed the petition, which was requesting that suggested alternative solutions be considered, one of which would still allow water to go to Lacombe Lake, by permeation into the soil and underground flow from an overflow containment pond with capacity to cope with peak flows. Incidentally, the majority of water currently coming into Lacombe Lake is subterranean, entering via springs on the lake bed at the south end.

The current Blackfalds Stormwater Plan would change this by bringing water overland. The advantage of allowing water to percolate through the soil is that various organisms will help break down what is potentially toxic, unless we remove or kill these micro-organisms first.

I then wondered how clean the rain water run-off would be because I have seen a number of people swimming in Lacombe Lake, as well as rowers capsize.

I spoke with Brad Dardis from the engineering and environmental team, I also researched on the internet as to how effective their proposed Area Master Stormwater Plan would be.

I found various studies and letters of concern. I then embarrassingly thought of the time I lost all the coolant from my radiator on a road in Red Deer a few years ago and wondered about the fine dust from my brake pads, which one should not inhale when changing the brake pads. These fine particles aren’t effectively removed from the stormwater flowing overland to the lake and they are too small to settle in the proposed settling ponds.

Subsequently, I wondered about the fertilizer and herbicides that I use on my garden, and the salt that I liberally scatter on my paths in winter, not to mention my dog’s poop and urine, all of which can be w ashed into the storm water system. During the spring run-off, these must find their way beyond the wetlands that have been designed to remove as much as possible.

Then I read the storm water management proposal. There’s no mention about thorough testing of the lake water before and after the changes or regular monitoring of water quality. Though, a vague verbal assurance was given at a recent open house meeting that it would happen for the Blackfalds stormwater, but not the lake water.

So, what will happen if the Blackfalds water is tested as being unsuitable to flow into Lacombe Lake during a peak run-off period?

The problem with Lacombe Lake is that it is a fragile ecosystem, as shown by how it was upset when water was diverted to the lake from Whelp Creek a few years ago. Perhaps the real problem is with the wildlife and general public who come into intimate contact with the water in Lacombe Lake, should they leave? If only we had taken an interest in Cranna Lake years ago, it wouldn’t now have the thick contaminated layer of black mud at the bottom.

However, bravo to the Lions of Lacombe for taking the initiative to help recover the lake’s health by installing a fountain. I hope that they will still be around when we have to do the same to Lacombe Lake!

Coming back to my first point about “free exchange of ideas,” perhaps the Town of Blackfalds council and planning department should be discussing other alternatives with the general public (many citizens of Blackfalds and Lacombe weren’t aware of what had been planned, until reading the petition). Not just residents around the lake, but people like myself, who have used the lake for rowing over the last 12 years, providing a wonderful recreational activity for numerous high school students and adults in Central Alberta.

Cranna lake is a wonderful example of today’s clean-up of the environmental damage that we unknowingly created over a number of years. Will we ever totally recover it as a natural habitat, maybe, even if we can’t swim in it?

Lacombe Lake is a hidden gem, tested as one of the cleanest lakes in Alberta by the Alberta Lake Management Society.

Let’s think carefully, and act wisely for its future.

- Andrew Nokes,

Lacombe, Alta. 

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