Swimming and fishing bans lifted at Pine Lake

The no-swimming, no-fishing health advisory for Pine Lake was lifted on Thursday.

The no-swimming, no-fishing health advisory for Pine Lake was lifted on Thursday.

Test results from water samples taken earlier this week show that toxins from blue-green algae fall within safe levels, said Dr. Digby Horne, Alberta Health Services’ medical officer of health for the Central Zone.

“We haven’t actually seen them get to high levels,” added Horne.

Health inspectors did not wait for test results to come in before closing the lake to recreational users as a precaution last week at the sight of blue-green algae blooms.

The algae growth had consumed oxygen in the lake, causing the deaths of hundreds of fish.

Since blue-green algae blooms still exist in Pine Lake, and they can be toxic on contact, Horne said he would not advise anyone to swim right within the algae growth. But consuming fish caught from the lake should be fine, he added.

Cooler weather could have helped the lake’s condition. But Horne said multiple factors come into play, including nutrient levels in the water, the amount of sunlight, carbon dioxide levels, and even whether storms have agitated algae blooms.

“Sometimes they get pushed down and they use their buoyancy to float up again, so that influences when and how we see algae blooms.”

Some resort owners on the lake, who already saw business affected by a cool first half of the summer, were not thrilled with news of the lake’s closure.

That the health advisory was lifted within a week is “good news, I guess,” said Ashley Dyck, an employee of Scotty’s Family Resort. But she didn’t expect it to affect business much one way or another saying, “we’re a seasonal campground” and the season is over.