Quality of river waters rated poor

Poor water quality in the Red Deer, Medicine and Blindman Rivers was identified as a priority concern in a State of the Environment report compiled by Lacombe County.

Poor water quality in the Red Deer, Medicine and Blindman Rivers was identified as a priority concern in a State of the Environment report compiled by Lacombe County.

The three rivers, as well Haynes and Whelp Creeks, were found to contain water with high nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, as well as more bacteria, parasites and pesticides than is desirable under Alberta Environment’s surface water guidelines.

A “poor” rating is given when guidelines are exceeded significantly, water quality is considered impaired and “well below desirable levels,” or worst quality.

These finding were not a surprise to Lacombe County’s environmental co-ordinator Blayne West — or to many residents of the county, who identified water quality and habitat preservation as their top environmental concerns in public consultations.

The report’s conclusions “resonated with what the community was thinking. What (people) were saying were the major issues, were the major issues,” said West, who took about 1 1/2 years to do the baseline environmental study for the county.

Most lakes in the area fared better than rivers, with Sylvan and Gull Lake achieving a good rating, Buffalo and Lacombe Lake receiving “fair,” while only the Chain Lakes were “poor.”

West said a multitude of factors are responsible for water quality. Runoff from agricultural operations, lawn chemicals, cattle waste and leaking septic tanks from acreages are considered major causes.

Some lakes fared better than others because they have better water flow, and are deeper and bigger, added West, while rivers tend to collect contamination all along their routes. For this reason, she admitted Lacombe County can’t be the only one taking measures to prevent river pollution.

“The idea is, we have to start somewhere. Hopefully we can be a leader in this and there will be a groundswell of support from residents . . . and other counties and municipalities will get on board.”

Now that the county has baseline information on water quality, the next step will determining how to improve things over the next 10 to 20 years. West said more public consultations will be planned as the county works on an environmental management plan to outline targets and priorities and how these can be achieved.

West doesn’t believe the county will legislate tighter environmental rules. Instead, a pubic awareness campaign will likely be launched that asks residents to voluntarily take measures to contain the kind of pollutants that can get into rivers and lakes.

According to other findings in the State of the Environment report, the bio-indicators (amounts of trees, shrubs and other vegetation) surrounding wetlands and riparian areas around lakes is “fair.”

There isn’t enough data available to determine the state of habitat and wildlife biodiversity, or the effects of some human impacts, such as waste generation and disposal. West said this indicates the county will have to start gathering its own data in these areas, perhaps partnering with local groups that can help collect information on flora and fauna.

The county’s environmental management plan is expected to be completed by the summer of 2014.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Chopped Canada-winning chef Pete Sok is trying to focus on the future as he reopens Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley during the pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer’s celebrity chef looks past the pandemic with new restaurant opportunity

Pete Sok is reopening Boulevard Restaurant — and betting on the future

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

Leader of the Government in the House of Commons Pablo Rodriguez rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Gummed-up bills in House of Commons: harbinger of a federal election?

OTTAWA — All federal party leaders maintain they don’t want an election… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

Most Read