Last year Pigeon Lake was overcome with algae that made recreation in the area all but impossible; this year it’s so clear you can see to the bottom of the lake in most areas.
Nobody really knows why the lake is clear of the blue-green algae that created unpleasant odours and covered the lake shores last year, explained Ian Rawlinson, chairperson of the Pigeon Lake Renewal League, one of several resident-run groups trying to clear up the lake that has been plagued with algae for some years.
The group formed to find actionable ways to help reduce the amount of algae in the lake. “This year certainly we’re fortunate,” Rawlinson said.
He suggests one of the best ways to fix the problem for the long-term is for residents in the area to take action, not only with the provincial and federal governments, but to do what they can to curb unwanted nutrients entering the lake, which is one reason for the algae.
Earlier this year, the league organized a clean up of the shores by clearing and covering the algae, which is one of the reasons Rawlinson feels the lake is clear. That, and a mild spring coupled with little spring run off may have helped their cause.
The league has also been fighting for a proper sewer system that leads to the village from the south side of the lake. Rawlinson said most residents have been using a septic system but he suspects some may have been bypassing their septic system over the years when doing certain chores like laundry and dishes. This has created a cumulative negative effect on the lake and Rawlinson hopes residents will educate themselves on the issues they face.
There has been some resistance to the sewer system with one group of residents advocating against it, but the league has taken a firm stance on the issue and Rawlinson says with the 5,000 cottages dotting the lakeside, it’s in everyone’s best interests to put together a proper system. One argument the league is facing is that some residents only visit their cabin a few weeks out of the year but the goal is to ensure the lake benefits everyone. “We have to clean up our actions,” said Rawlinson.
“We know it’s going to be a long time to fix the lake,” he said.
Another area the group wants to see improvement on is some focus from Alberta Environment. Rawlinson suggests the ministry could do better to help mitigate the effects of blue-green algae. However, for this year, residents have been able to take in the many fun aspects of the lake. But the question as to how long will it last remains.