Wabamun Lake


Wabamun Watershed Management Council

November 17 at 10:08 AM  ·  UPDATE - Written by Neil Fleming

Environment Canada reported that during construction this past spring, the lake level reporting unit near the Wabamun marina was damaged resulting in no reporting data for Wabamun Lake being available. The unit has been relocated near the Sundance Power plant and is again operational. The bad news is that the current level is 724.04M above sea level, or about 51cm (20”) below the level of the weir, (724.55M). For perspective, the current level is still about 20cm above the record low in 2003 and about 1.13M below the record high in 1927. This low level means that no water has flowed from the lake for almost 2 years, making the lake stagnant and more susceptible to nutrients and pollution entering it.

Whenever the issue of lake level is discussed, the conversation inevitably turns to the TransAlta water treatment plant (WTP). In recent posts, I have attempted to explain the purpose and function of the WTP, which maybe bear repeating.

Firstly, the purpose of the WTP was never to artificially control the lake level.

As a condition of their license to operate the Highvale mine, on the south side of the lake, TransAlta is required to contain all the precipitation falling on the mine site to prevent contaminated water from entering the lake. The water is diverted to their cooling ponds from where water is drawn and treated before being pumped to the lake. The amount of water to be pumped is calculated to be equal to the amount of water that would normally have reached the lake had the coal mine not existed. The goal is to mimic as closely as possible, natural inflows to the lake. So, when operating as designed, the net effect of the WTP is zero.

A major storm event resulted in the WTP being offline for about 1.5 years, but it has now been repaired and operational since August. Our very rough calculations suggest that the WTP contributes about 2.5 vertical inches to the lake level on an average year. We estimate that the lake level would be about 4 inches, (10cm) higher had pumping not been interrupted. The “water debt” that accrued during the period the WTP was not operating will be “repaid” by incremental volumes over the next two years (approximately).

In dry periods, like we are currently experiencing, evaporation results in water loss and greater nutrient concentrations which contribute to increased aquatic vegetative growth and algae blooms.

The cyclical nature of the water level is displayed by the graph on the Water Level page of our website WWMC.ca and emphasized by the fact that only 2 years ago, many were complaining that the lake was too high!

You are encouraged to visit our website, WWMC.ca to get a better understanding of the factors contributing to lake level.

Written by Neil Fleming


Wabamun Watershed - A Plan For All Seasons

Let's Go Outdoors says:
It was an absolute pleasure to work with the fantastic volunteers at the Wabamun Lake Watershed Council. In this video, I continue my understanding of the Wabamun Lake Watershed plan and how many partners representing various levels of government and volunteers have come together to work towards a common goal. As you will see, the work required to maintain a healthy watershed is a year-round process.

Click to Watch the video from Youtube: Wabamun Watershed - A Plan For All Seasons

Let's Go Outdoors is based in Alberta, Canada. Host Michael Short runs a fully integrated media company that provides outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists with news and info about Alberta's outdoors.


The Science Behind the Ribbon of Life
Why Vegetated Shoreline Buffers Matter

What is the Ribbon of Life and why is it essential to the health and sustainable use of waterfront properties?

The ‘Ribbon of Life’ is the natural shield protecting our freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams. It is what mitigates erosion, protecting the beauty and property values of waterfront properties. It is a haven for wildlife. It is a key natural feature increasing resilience to climate change for people and wildlife.

Watersheds Canada’s survey of nearly 200 Ontario freshwater stakeholders found that the science of inland water ecosystems was the least understood area of shoreline stewardship.  

Please view Watersheds Canada’s Chris Dennison on November 28, 2022, as he discusses the scientific literature supporting the restoration and maintenance of native vegetation on shorelands and the importance of informed policies that protect both properties and the environment.

Please click the link: The Science Behind: Vegetated Shoreland Buffers


 

 Guidelines for Lakeshore Development Use can be found at the following Alberta Government Web page: www.srd.gov.ab.ca/

 Further information is also available at the Wabamun Watershed Management Council Web Page www.wwmc.ca/

 


Mooring Disturbance Standard
Docks, Piers & Wharfs

Effective immediately, a Temporary Field Authorization (TFA) will be required for placing a mooring structure for
personal recreational use in Crown-owned bed and shore, for longer than 14 days.

Mooring structures include: Docks / Piers
Mooring Anchors for Buoys
Boatlifts and Shelters
Swimming Rafts and Wharves

User Guide For Dock Authorizations - April 2021.pdf
Application For Dock Authorizations - Application Form.pdf
Mooring Disturbance Standard Waterfront and Semi-Waterfront Property Owners - April 2021.pdf
Mooring Disturbance Standard Shared Docks Fact Sheet - April 2021.pdf
Mooring Disturbance Standard Moorage Allowance Infographic 2021.pdf
Mooring Disturbance Standard Back Lot Property Owners Fact Sheet - April 2021.pdf
Disturbance Standard Temporary Seasonal Docks Mooring Structures - April 2021.pdf
Contact List for Dock Authorizations.pdf 

 

 

For more information contact:

Melissa Chisholm, Land Management Specialist 111 Twin Atria Building 780-643-0636  
Lands Delivery and Coordination South Branch 4999 – 98 Avenue melissa.chisholm@gov.ab.ca  
Forestry and Parks Edmonton, AB  T6B 2X3    
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