Wetlands project proposed for Gull Lake

A wetlands project has been proposed to filter pollutants making their way to Gull Lake.

  • Nov. 26, 2013 7:00 a.m.

Paul Cowley

Red Deer Advocate

A wetlands project has been proposed to filter pollutants making their way to Gull Lake.

The Gull Lake Water Quality Management Society has proposed the project, which would be developed at the southeast corner of the lake where a pair of streams flow into the lake.

“Excessive nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous can lead to eutrophication of the lake, which leads to an excessive amount of aquatic plant and phytoplankton growth,” says a funding request to Lacombe County council from society president Craig MacLeod.

The main sources of phosphorous are agricultural runoff and from lake bottom sediments, says the society.

MacLeod suggests the county could tap a fund that has been set up to cover the power costs of pumping water from the Battle River into Gull Lake to stabilize lake levels during dry years.

Pumping has not been required in recent years.

A budget for the wetland project and a specific funding amount has not been forwarded to council yet.

Sewage from residences and pollutants from recreational activities also contribute to lake problems, says MacLeod. The society wants the county to ensure that infill housing has updated septic tank systems.

“We are seeing seasonal cabins with failing sewer systems being replaced by year-round housing that are using the same septic field systems the cabin used previously,” says MacLeod.

Council made no decision on the request at its council meeting last Thursday.

County commissioner Terry Hager said council wants to hear a presentation from the society and to hear whether residents near the proposed wetland project support the plan.

“Council would view it certainly differently if they didn’t have support,” he said. “We just wanted to make sure they had their other partners all lined up.”

Hager said he would not recommend the pumping fund be used. It is shared by Lacombe and Ponoka Counties and the Summer Villages of Gull Lake and Parkland Beach.

Approval would be required from all four to dip into the fund.

Draining that fund means municipalities would have to find significant amounts of money elsewhere in its budgets during a drought.

When pumping is needed, the bill will likely be higher than the amount set aside in the fund.

“The fact that we didn’t have pumping for two years doesn’t mean that money is all of a sudden freed up,” he said.

A spokesman for the society could not be reached for comment on Monday.

pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com