State of the Watershed 2015
The Society monitored and reported on the water quality and lake level of Sylvan Lake as each topic is important to members and visitors to the watershed. We also tracked precipitation in 2015 as the key environmental variable that determines runoff into the lake. The LakeWatch report on the 2014 sampling campaign was released by the Alberta Lake Management Society (ALMS) and the data indicated a reduction on the concentrations of the important nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus. The first Macrophyte Survey was also published by ALMS. The Society supported and facilitated both campaigns in 2014 but did not sample the lake or tributaries in 2015. We did observe and document a new phenomenon: Silt runoff from municipal land cleared for urban development.
The SLWSS Watchdog Technologies
As a self-appointed watchdog the Society keeps track of land use changes that have an impact on the lake. High resolution satellite and Street View imagery accessible using Google Earth Pro, and our own ground level photography, has enabled identification of both Non Beneficial Management Practices (NBMP) and best practices. Publically available Alberta spatial data were collected for our new Geographic Information System database. To reconfirm the location of the perimeter of the Sylvan Lake watershed and the land area of Society focus, the Google Earth terrain contour tool showed a municipal review of the boundary is advisable.
Cooperation with Other Watershed Organizations
The Society participates in watershed conferences, workshops and technical meetings that have Sylvan Lake applications.
We presented the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance (RDRWA) with recommendations on standards for goal-dependent water quality sampling protocols for lakes. We also proposed a modified Responsible Care program to ALMS to improve accountability and scope of lake management.
The Central Alberta Recreational Lakes (CARL) Forum considered Citizen Science projects to supplement lake monitoring and we are waiting to learn about certification standards.
Our involvement with and financial support of the Emerald Award-winning Nature Alberta’s Living by Water program has changed as few property owners registered in 2015 through the Summer Villages. We awarded “Kent Williamson” SLWSS yard signs to the 2014 participants.
Cooperation with Governments in 2015
As an observer on, and technical contributor to, the Sylvan Lake Management Committee we met with the O2 Design consultants to explain details of the watershed, to provide access to our library of technical documents, and to review and edit the Cumulative Effects Management System (CEMS) Phase 2 report to meet Society standards. The CEMS Phase 1 project was a joint initiative of the SLMC and Alberta Environment and Parks.
The Alberta Geological Service invited the Society to attend its workshop on the Sylvan Lake Groundwater Project and we reciprocated by provided technical information to the project team.
Alberta Agriculture researchers who are the experts on nutrient transport into groundwater and water bodies explained their modeling and field work to us that is the basis for Beneficial Management Practices for containment of phosphorus, the important plant nutrient that enters Sylvan Lake in tributary flows. Application of those findings will help to retard nitrogen and phosphorus plant nutrient transport from land to lake.
The Land Stewardship Centre and ALMS welcomed the Society’s input on a Responsible Care program and proposals to define water management accountability and the role of community stewardship groups. In addition, we discussed the need to expand the scope of Living by Water program to include standards and best practices for architects, engineers, builders, contractors and service providers who work in sensitive watersheds like Sylvan Lake.
The Quiet Enjoyment Initiative subcommittee chaired by Kent Lyle continues its efforts to have local municipal bylaws control the sources of noise on the lake and is also developing appropriate education programs.
A government response to our correspondence about future stewardship representation on the Red Deer Regional Watershed Planning Commission was delayed by the 2015 electoral process.
The Society participated in the RDRWA’s Lake Days event on the Sylvan Lake pier on July 24. Public interest was low, consistent with our past experience on the lakefront and at EnviroExpo.
We ordered a ceramic tile for the new lighthouse with inscription: “Sylvan Lake Watershed Stewardship Society: Protecting the lake’s natural assets and values through vigilance and science”
SLWSS director Susan Samson attended a workshop presented by Cows and Fish and the Centre for Digital Storytelling at which she produced her video “By the Lake” that tells her personal story of the lake and watershed.
The president’s “Eutrophication Casino” presentation to the RDRWA determined that Sylvan Lake limnological roulette was too high a risk for potential players. No one placed bets under the house rules.
Society Websites for Public Communication
Our websites contain news and reference content on all aspects of the lake, its surrounding land, and the interactions between the two. See: