Gull Lake residents are so convinced they have the answer to protect the lake from Prussian carp they are willing to bankroll a $50,000 demonstration project to prove it.
“We’re absolutely convinced it will work,” said Craig McLeod, president of the Gull Lake Watershed Society. “We’re very confident this demonstration will prove the validity of our solution.”
The group has lined up a meeting with Alberta Environment and Parks Minister Jason Nixon Jan. 28 to pitch their “geotube” filter technology.
To maintain lake levels, water is periodically pumped from the river. However, the discovery of Prussian carp in the river set off alarm bells and raised concerns the lake could be contaminated. Once established, Prussian carp breed quickly and out-compete native species for food and habitat and can introduce diseases and pathogens.
The society believes filtering river water is the solution. To ensure all Prussian larvae and eggs are caught before they reach the lake, river water would pass through two geotubes, which are like huge bags made of fine geo-textile mesh that carp eggs and larvae can’t get through. Further downstream, the water would be checked to make sure it is clear of eggs or larvae.
McLeod said the smallest carp eggs are about one millimetre in diameter. The geotube mesh openings are only 0.45 millimetres big.
Enough residents, developers and others with a stake in the health of the lake and maintaining its status as a prime recreational destination have been willing to invest in the project, he is confident the $50-$60,000 cost of the demonstration project will be covered.
McLeod said if a hold on pumping river water into the lake continues, it will have a huge impact on the water levels of the lake, which draws 500,000 people a year.
“There wouldn’t be a boat launch on the lake that would be workable,” he said.
Studies have shown the lake would have 20 per cent less water now if past pumping had not happened.
This story was updated on Jan. 15 to remove a reference to funding that was turned down from Lacombe and Ponoka Counties for this project. That funding was requested for a different wetland, water filtering project.