A water quality assessment of the eight major tributaries in the Lac La Nonne watershed a sub-basin of the Athabasca/Pembina watershed was implemented in spring 2004. Information was gathered on stream runoff waters during 2004, 2005 and 2007 on the levels of nutrients, bacteria and sediment and stream flow levels. The first two years were with the assistance of Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development ( AAFRD ) and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada ( AAFC-PFRA ).
Six teams of Alberta Environment trained volunteers, each consisting of an agricultural producer and a volunteer from LEPA or LWSS collected samples of the spring runoff water at eight designated sites on tributaries to Lac La Nonne, Majeau Lake, Lake Nakamun, and Tamarack lakes (see map). A volunteer sampling coordinator delivered the water samples to ALS Laboratories (Edmonton) for analysis of agricultural and human derived contaminants: sewage/fecal bacteria (E.Coli), fertilizers, pesticides (46 various herbicides, insecticides, fungicides), nutrients & sediments (nitrogen and phosphorus), and other major ions (Ca, Cl, K, Mg, etc.) suspended in water. A seventh team was set up to measure and record water flow at each location as part of the sample collection. A training manual now exists for future monitoring endeavors. The findings suggest that nutrient levels in the streams are similar to or greater than those in other agricultural streams across the province (S. Depoe, personal communication). Unfortunately due to low spring runoff and low flows in sampling was cut short, and fewer samples were collected than anticipated. The addition of more contaminants in our lakes is very disconcerting, as the lack of sufficient stream flow has meant the watersheds lakes are not being flushed of nutrients. More nutrients results in excessive algae growth, which impairs recreational uses of the lake, means loss of oxygen for fish and may become toxic to wildlife and pets. Alberta Environment currently ranks Lac la Nonne in the top 10 provincial lakes in both Chlorophyll and Total Phosphorus.
Results have been documented in “State of the Watershed Report” and the “Water Quality Report”. These two documents are used to identify locations and potential sources of contaminants lending to increased decline in water quality and quantity in the watershed. And will be used to assist in directing resources and future projects to areas where the most environmental benefits will be achieved (e.g. nutrient management, riparian health and/or sewage issues). Celebrating the success of this years Stream Sampling Project and to acknowledge the effort of participants, an appreciation barbecue was held on July 13.
Ed Petrie Recreational Residents
And thanks to the following individuals/agencies for their efforts and support:
Aquality Environmental Consulting Ltd. and community volunteers (including community supplied boat and operator) carried out tests in 2004 and 2005 for the presence of caffeine (an indicator of human sewage) in Lac La Nonne and Nakamun lakes and the major inflow stream to Lac La Nonne. Testing in 2004 detected caffeine was present at several locations on the lake. Retesting (additional test sites) in summer 2005 to verify findings and pinpoint possible sources of human effluent release were negative. Variation of finding may have resulted from many factors environmental and/or changes in visitor and residential behaviors. Finding are listed in the “Water Quality Assessment Report 2004 and 2005” prepared by Aquality Environmental Consulting Ltd.