Sylvan Lake is free of blue-green algae. (File photo by Advocate staff)

No problem with blue-green algae at Sylvan Lake

Visitor count underway this summer at Sylvan lake

Blue-green algae that is interfering with activities at a few Alberta lakes this summer is unlikely to show up at Sylvan Lake.

Blue-green algae advisories have been issued for nine lakes since mid-June, including Buck Lake northwest of Rimbey.

Alberta Health Services warns that people and their pets should not swim or wade where blooms are visible, so they don’t get sick.

“Blue-green algae is not a problem for Sylvan Lake and it’s unlikely to be, unless there’s some massive nutrient transport from the land into the lake,” said Graeme Strathdee, president of the Sylvan Lake Watershed Stewardship Society.

“Sylvan Lake is kind of unique among all the Alberta lakes, particularly recreational lakes, because it’s exceedingly low in the nutrient content that algae require as their feed so they can grow.”

He said the biggest factor is spring runoff, and in the past few years, precipitation has been low.

“Without enough rainfall to soak into the surrounding ground, and then create runoff into the lake, the nutrients just don’t get transferred out of the ground and into the lake.”

Despite frequent rain this summer, the ground was not saturated enough to get water flowing downhill into the lake, he said.


Sylvan Lake named one of top six beaches in Western Canada

Sylvan Lake’s tourism season kicks off — without much sun or heat

Joannne Gaudet, communication officer with the Town of Sylvan Lake, said people do appreciate that the lake is clean and naturally spring fed.

A tourism assessment is underway that includes pedestrian and vehicle counts, as well as surveys. The last assessment was done in 2014.

“We certainly did have a wet June and a slower start. But reflecting back on other years, there’s always a period of time that kind of inhibits the traffic for whatever reason. We’re hopeful we’re still on track for an average season,” Gaudet said.

Visitors will find that the sandy area of the local beach has grown compared to recent years, she said.

“We’ve got a good eight feet (of beach) in some areas, whereas in the past few years, the water has been right up to our wall,” Gaudet said.

Strathdee, who has sailed on the lake for many years, said unstable weather and high winds regularly keep people off the water and beach every summer.

On good days, beach users need to arrive early to get a parking spot, he said.

“The reality is there is a finite amount of parking. The beach won’t get any more traffic than parking spaces accommodate.”

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