AEP minister and Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Jason Nixon (left) and Premier Jason Kenney (right) look on as volunteers from the Gull Lake Watershed Society set up to pump water through one of their test filters on Aug. 14 on the Blindman River near Bentley. Photo submitted

AEP minister and Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA Jason Nixon (left) and Premier Jason Kenney (right) look on as volunteers from the Gull Lake Watershed Society set up to pump water through one of their test filters on Aug. 14 on the Blindman River near Bentley. Photo submitted

Full scale test next step for Gull Lake Watershed

Hope is filter will contain Prussian Carp eggs from entering Gull Lake

For about three years, there has been no pumping into Gull Lake and local efforts have been underway since to figure out how to fix the situation.

In 2017, the invasive fish species Prussian Carp were found in the Blindman River, prompting Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) to halt pumping water from the river into Gull Lake as part of the lake level stabilization program until future notice.

As a result, the Gull Lake Watershed Society (GLWS) has embarked on a search for a solution and they may be getting close.

GLWS secretary Norval Horner explained, in an interview, the society conducted a pair of tests that could keep the extremely tiny Prussian Carp eggs from entering the lake.

“Since 1975 when a stabilization system was built to keep Gull Lake around 899.16m above sea level, about 18 million cubic metres — or 25 per cent of the lake water — has been pumped in from the Blindman River. A study in 2011 predicted the shallow lake’s viability for wildlife and recreation could diminish rapidly if stabilization wasn’t continued. Boat launches and marinas are already being hampered,” Horner said.

“When AEP suspended pumping — and was unable to find viable preventative options — over concerns of the invasive species’ eggs getting through and invading the lake, the society decided to look into some more novel solutions.”

With the eggs measuring one millimetre in size, the task is a daunting one.

However, a meeting this past February with local MLAs — Lacombe-Ponoka’s Ron Orr and AEP minister Jason Nixon, who represents Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre — garnered government support for a GLWS study.

With AEP providing permits and expertise, GLWS used donated funds, equipment and about 60,000 carp eggs collected from fisherman in May and June to conduct two pilot tests this summer.

A Geotube — 200 feet long, 15 feet in diameter with a pore size of 0.4mm — succeeded in stopping the eggs, but plugged up with the fine sediment which led to it over-pressurizing.

A Forsta filter — developed for drip irrigation — also stopped the eggs, and handled the sediment as well. Another benefit is the backwash mechanism helps to clean the filter.

The issue now becomes the $40,000 needed for a full size Forsta filter to run a full scale test, complete with temporary pipes with the water returning to the river.

“The province has shown definite interest with Nixon, Orr and Premier Jason Kenney paying a visit to project on Aug. 14. Their response was quite positive, with Nixon clearly interested in the lake,” Horner said.

“However, there was no commitment to any funding yet. The GLWS could probably raise a good part of the funds for the next step and hope the government would match it.”

If the full scale test works and gets AEP approval, Horner estimates it would cost at least upwards of $300,000 to install three filters between the pumphouse and the outlet to Gull Lake.

“Funding would need to be found for that, but this looks like a dependable solution that would allow the stabilization program to continue,” he said.

“And yes, the heavy spring rains have pushed the lake level higher, over 899m and in the middle of the desired range for the lake.”

However, Horner added this year is certainly not typical and a long-term solution is still needed.

The GLWS is still finalizing its report on their tests and will be providing it to AEP as well as the counties of Ponoka and Lacombe, even though neither county funded the tests. Both counties co-manage a fund that was set up to pay for power to the pumping station and other conservation projects involving the lake.

“(The counties) were aware of the tests, but are looking to AEP to take the lead on assuring any filter is effective,” he said.

GLWS will be holding its annual general meeting Sept. 12 at the Meridian Beach community hall starting at 10 a.m. where this project and the successful settling ponds on nutrient-loading streams will be discussed.

 

An example of just how small the Prussian Carp eggs are and the challenge GLWS has in finding a filter that would be able to catch all of these eggs in order to restart stabilization pumping in the future. Photo submitte

An example of just how small the Prussian Carp eggs are and the challenge GLWS has in finding a filter that would be able to catch all of these eggs in order to restart stabilization pumping in the future. Photo submitte

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is asking Albertans to do their part by observing gathering limits, staying home if unwell, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three new Central zone COVID-19 deaths, Alberta adds 1,433 cases

Red Deer down to 802 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.
‘We did not unite around blind loyalty to one man’:Kenney faces internal call to quit

Senior backbench member Todd Loewen, in a letter posted on Facebook, called on Kenney to resign

Alberta continues to wrestle with high COVID-19 case numbers. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer up to 858 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports additional 1,799 cases of the virus

Marc Kielburger, screen left, and Craig Kielburger, screen right, appear as witnesses via video conference during a House of Commons finance committee in the Wellington Building in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. The committee is looking into Government Spending, WE Charity and the Canada Student Service Grant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau didn’t violate conflict rules over WE Charity, watchdog says

Federal ethics commissioner Mario Dion found that former finance minister Bill Morneau did violate the rules

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

The historic Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne in southern Alberta is up for sale

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Chris Scott, owner of The Whistle Stop Cafe, was put in handcuffs after an anti-restriction protest Saturday in the parking lot of the business. (Screenshot via The Whistle Stop Facebook page)
Alberta RCMP investigating possible threat to police after Mirror rally

Online images show RCMP members, vehicles in crosshairs of a rifle

An Israeli attack helicopter launches flares as he flies over the Israeli Gaza border, southern Israel, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Singh calls for halt on Canadian arms sales to Israel as violence escalates in region

Government data shows Canada sent $13.7 million in military goods and technology to Israel in 2019

New homes are built in a housing construction development in the west-end of Ottawa on Thursday, May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Budget’s foreign-homebuyers tax could bring in $509 million over 4 years, PBO says

Liberals are proposing a one per cent tax on vacant homes owned by foreign non-residents

A Canadian flag patch is shown on a soldier’s shoulder in Trenton, Ont., on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. The Canadian Forces says it has charged one of its members in the death of an army reservist from British Columbia during a training exercise at a military base in Alberta last year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
Canadian Forces member charged in death of army reservist during training exercise

Cpl. Lars Callsen has been charged with one count of negligence

Most Read