Lake will be tested

Lacombe County is continuing efforts to develop a snapshot of the health of Lacombe Lake.

Lacombe County is continuing efforts to develop a snapshot of the health of Lacombe Lake.

“We committed to that last year,” said Keith Boras the county’s manager of environmental and protective services.

“We were able to get a couple of samples out of the lake last fall.”

Additional samples were taken as soon as the ice came off this spring and the county plans to take monthly samples until winter.

“We’re looking at trying to get some background information on the lake.”

Lake samples are taken from the same depth and location with the aid of geographic positioning system technology.

“We’re doing it all on a protocol that was laid out for us by Alberta Environment,” he said. “We’re trying to take out as many variables as we can and comparing apples to apples.”

Boras said the county does not plan to release specific results until at least a year’s sampling is available to present an accurate picture of the lake’s health and various nutrient levels.

However, a brief review of results showed nothing that would be unexpected in a typical land-locked Prairie lake.

“We’re not expecting to find anything out of the ordinary,” he said.

Results gathered this year will be studied in detail over the winter by lake experts and a report prepared. Testing is expected to continue for several years to paint a more detailed picture of the lake’s health.

Lacombe Lake has been a contentious topic among area landowners, some of whom have lived next to the small water body halfway between Lacombe and Blackfalds for decades. Residents complained that the county’s practice of occasionally diverting water from nearby Whelp Creek allowed water polluted from runoff from area dairy operations and farms to flow into the lake.

A longtime resident, Lloyd Alexander, commissioned his own water testing in the spring of 2008 that found fecal coliform counts exceeded various irrigation guidelines.

Last July, the county agreed to stop diverting water and begin a regular testing program.

Boras said more detailed testing is required because the Alexander samples were taken during spring runoff when all nutrient levels can be expected to be higher than normal.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com