The Gull Lake Watershed Society has asked Ponoka County for $160,000 over the next four years for a “GeoTube” filtering system. File photo from Gull Lake Watershed Society

Ponoka County decision on $160,000 Gull Lake pump system delayed

Ponoka County will join with Lacombe to talk with the Gull Lake Watershed Society

A request to fund some environment projects valued at $160,000 over a four year period to stabilize Gull Lake won’t be dealt with until springtime.

Ponoka County council’s meeting Feb. 12 looked over a request from the Gull Lake Watershed Society (GLWS) for an annual $40,000 contribution over the next four years to help pay for the filtering of seven streams that enter the lake, re-establish wetlands and buffer areas plus compensate landowners for any loss of land.

“Landholder compensation allows for reestablishment of buffer zones and natural wetland to be reestablished to filter dirty stream water coming into the lake,” explained Craig MacLeod in a letter on behalf of the GLWS to the county.

The project goal is to lessen the effects of nutrients entering Gull Lake through filtering the water with improved wetlands and the use of “geo-tube” filters, to remove suspended solids, silt and limit the amount of high nutrient-loaded water. It’s estimated to cost $20,000 per stream,

According to the GLWS, the dissolved phosphorous level of water coming into the lake is 24 to 80 times higher than Alberta Environment and Parks historical acceptable limit of 0.05 milligrams per litre. Such high levels promote the growth of nuisance plants and can create algae blooms that disrupt recreational activities.

Related: No pumping into Gull Lake for 5 years due to carp concerns

Related: Dewatering tubes may be the answer to Gull Lake pumping troubles

While council discussed the issue briefly, the matter was deferred to a later date in order to gather more information. Ponoka County also met with Lacombe County later in the week.

At that gathering, CAO Charlie Cutforth explained the request was brought up and both council’s concluded it would be best for representatives from each county to meet with GLWS about the proposed plan and how it would be funded.

“We want to work with the group, but Ponoka County would rather that the party — specifically Alberta Environment and Parks — responsible for looking after the lake take on a greater financial role in any project,” said Cutforth.

He added the municipalities around Gull Lake shouldn’t be the ones that bear the financial brunt of caring for the stability and water quality of the lake.

Related: Plan to pump into Gull Lake won’ happen in 2019

It should be noted that both summer villages on the lake — Parkland Beach and Gull Lake — have committed a total of $13,500 annually to the project.

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