What is cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)? how dangerous is it? do we have it in Wabamun Lake?
Cyanobacteria cause the toxic "algal" blooms that have plagued many recreational lakes in central Alberta. These blooms foul beaches, boats and docks, and produce toxins that can affect the health of people and animals. Cyanobacteria is in Wabamun Lake but until the summer of 2019, no toxic blooms had been reported. On August 16, 2019, Alberta Health Services issued a blue-green algae bloom advisory for the lake. Go to our Blue-green Algae (Cyanobacteria) page for more information.
How do you remove moss from your roof without harming the health of the lake?
Moss can damage a roof and look unsightly. It can be difficult to control without the use of chemicals that indeed harm the lake. With regard to moss on roofs, we found the following two websites to be most helpful in describing clean ways to remove the moss: A Novice Ecologist and Dealing with a Mossy Roof.
How do you remove weeds from your driveway/walkway/patio without harming the health of the lake?
From our research It appears vinegar (acetic acid) to be the most effective way to eliminate weeds without poisoning the lake. Here is a good overview of the subject: Is there a safe alternative to roundup?
How is the Wabamun Watershed Management Council different from other groups around the lake?
The Wabamun Watershed Management Council is different from other groups active around the lake as it is looking at the long-range health of the watershed based on the input from a wide cross-section of stakeholders with an interest in the watershed. Other groups have a more specific purpose.
How did the 2005 CN train derailment and resultant oil spill affect the lake?
The oil spill initially devastated much shoreline habitat and wildlife. Fortunately, most of the oil was blown across the lake before it sank into the lake (although some did sink). As a result, the majority of the spilled oil was cleaned from the shore and over the next few years the shoreline habitat and wildlife populations recovered. Alberta Health initially found low levels of polycyclic-aromatic-hydrocarbons (PAHs, indicating fuel oil contamination) in the tissue of fish in the lake shortly after the spill. These chemicals did not persist as no traces were found in the fish within a couple of months. However, studies by Fish and Wildlife indicated that PAHs affected the survival of whitefish eggs. They found a significant increase in deformities in embryos that lowered the survivability of the fry. As a result, the whitefish population has not recovered as quickly as hoped.
How does the health of Wabamun Lake compare to other lakes in the area?
Water quality at Wabamun Lake can be considered intermediate in comparison to other Alberta lakes. Depending on the parameter used to evaluate the level of nutrients in the lake, Wabamun can be classified as either moderately productive (mesotrophic) or highly productive (eutrophic) in terms of the lakes capacity to produce aquatic plants and algae. Eutrophic lakes are subject to algal blooms, such as those created by blue-green algae, that can produce toxins and poison fish, wildlife and pets. So far, Wabamun has not had such catastrophic blooms.
Why does the lake level at Wabamun vary so widely?
The land area that drains into Wabamun Lake (its watershed) is actually quite small, so variations in lake level mainly relate to the impact of rain/snow events and evaporation. If a big rainfall hits the lake, levels will rise dramatically; conversely, if there is a lot of hot, dry weather, lake levels will drop quickly. For more information go to our Lake Level page.
Why does the lake level rise above the level of the weir at the outlet to Wabamun Creek?
Wabamun Creek is the sole outlet of Wabamun Lake. Often the lake level is below the weir when precipitation is low and evaporation accounts for most water loss. However, in heavy snow years or heavy rainfall events, the lake level can rise above the level of the weir. Only so much water can go over the weir at one time and if more water enters the lake than is leaving, the lake level will rise above the weir. The drainage out of Wabamun Creek (when flowing) has been characterized as like a straw draining a swimming pool. For more information go to our Lake Level page.
Why is only catch-and-release fishing allowed on the lake?
Wabamun is one of the most heavily fished lakes in central Alberta. In 2004 the government closed commercial fishing on the lake and imposed catch-and-release-only (C&R) fishing in 2008 to allow fish stocks to rebuild. Because the lake whitefish population has not recovered as quickly from the 2005 oil spill as other species, the government has continued the C&R regulation for the lake. As well, walleye have been introduced into the lake, and C&R fishing is helping this stock build. Another benefit from the C&R regulation is that some northern pike have grown to trophy sizes normally found only at fly-in lakes in northern Alberta. It has been suggested that C&R be maintained for northern pike at Wabamun Lake to maintain Wabamun as a destination trophy lake within an hour’s drive of a major city.
Why are walleye being stocked into Wabamun Lake?
Walleye are one of the most popular sport fish in Alberta. They put up a good fight and are excellent table fare. It is believed by some fisheries biologists that Wabamun used to have a viable population of walleye but they were fished-out of the lake by the early 1900s (another group of biologists say this belief is not supported by commercial fishing records going back into the 19th century [go to Wabamun Lake Fishery Update]). Commercial fishing records show that since that time lake whitefish populations have wildly cycled from low densities to high and back again, most likely because walleye were no longer controlling whitefish numbers. The Alberta government has tried several times to reintroduce walleye into Wabamun Lake. However, those introductions were not successful because the fish could not successfully reproduce. The fish attempted to spawn too early in the spring because of the warm water outflow from the Wabamun power plant. When the eggs hatched much earlier than normal, the young fish entered the colder lake and could not find enough food to sustain them. The Wabamun power plant is now closed and the lake freezes over completely. As a result, introduced walleye have a better chance at being reproductively successful. With the support of TransAlta Utilities, the Fish and Wildlife Division began transferring adult walleye from Lac Ste. Anne to Wabamun Lake in 2010. Hatchery-raised walleye fry were introduced into Wabamun starting in 2011. Environment and Sustainable Resource Development is hoping to have a harvestable walleye population in Wabamun within the next few years.
If you have a question about Lake Wabamun or the Lake Wabamun Watershed Management Council, please direct your inquiry as indicated in the Contact Us section.