Sylvan Lake Water Quality

Sylvan Lake continues to rank in first place among the recreational lakes in Central Alberta because of its high water quality.

Please click on the graphic to enlarge it.

The lake water is sampled and analyzed periodically by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, by the Alberta Lake Management Society (ALMS) and by the SLWSS.

The 2010 Lakewatch report by ALMS is posted here :

The detailed technical study by AXYS Environmental in 2005 “Sylvan Lake Water Quality Assessment and Watershed Management Considerations” is available for download. Note that the file size is 20 MB.

Because the concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous (N and P) plant nutrients are low in Sylvan Lake, algae growth in the lake is minimal and the lake clarity is high. The details are reported in the Blindman River chapter of the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance master summary of the State of the Watershed.

More technical information on Sylvan Lake water quality is included in this Alberta government report “Water Quality Conditions and Long-Term Trends in Alberta Lakes“. The Sylvan Lake review starts on page 373.

Sylvan Lake Water Level

Alberta’s Environment and Sustainable Resource Development website that measures, logs and reports on the Sylvan Lake water level is now displaying data for 2012 now that the ice has melted:

Click here for the lake level graph.

Check the AESRD website regularly for the continuous updates. The same data are available as either a graph or table by clicking in the Sylvan Lake dot on this map:

Data for 2011 are shown in this graphic:

Click on the image to enlarge it in another window.

See a decade’s worth of the logged lake level data in this image gallery. Click on any image to enlarge it:

2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000

Restore the Shoreline

Since shoreline property development started at Sylvan Lake decades ago the riparian zone adjacent to the lake has changed. Government surveys classify much of that zone as “impaired”.  Property owners can help to restore some riparian zone functions by looking critically at landscaping and structures with the goal of improving water balance and reducing nutrient transfer into the lake. Simple actions like not applied fertilizer close to the lake edge, or mowing lakefront lawns that border the lake, are important.

Here’s the proposal:

SLWSS Shoreline Project

Opportunities and potential experimental shoreline sites are limited for a variety of reasons including water depth. However the Sunbreaker Cove SV has AESRD approval for a shoreline stabilization project that might include the use of aquatic plants to minimize erosion.

In general, property owners who apply to AESRD to modify the shoreline are advised to consider those techniques in combination with rip-rap installation.

Resources and advice on shoreline protection are readily available:

Shoreline Modification / Erosion Control

Caring for Shoreline Properties

Onshore measures to conserve water, improve infiltration of precipitation, and avoid erosion from storm water flow can all be applied by property owners:

Stepping back from the Water

The Native Plant Council of Alberta offers advice and cautions on plant selection:

Native Plant Council

Cows and Fish has published a Field Guide to Riparian Plants of Alberta that is available for download.

Sylvan Lake News Articles and Readers’ Views on the Watershed

Steve Dills, Editor of the Sylvan Lake News publishes reports on municipal council meetings and on events and developments that affect the Sylvan Lake watershed.

Here are recent SLN articles and letters to the editor:

Local residents could benefit from recreation facilities plan

County agreed to increased costs for regional lift station

Majority agreed with council’s decision not to mess with lake level

Water, water and more water discussed at Norglenwold meeting

Sandy beaches at Sylvan Lake a thing of the past

Clean out Outlet Creek instead of spending money on more sand

Evaporation won’t cure problem, excess water must be let out of the lake  

TSL wants a beach on the waterfront-SLN-2012-05-31

Birchcliff seeking provincial funding to proceed with sewer system-SLN-2012-05-24

Frustrated trying to get onto lake-SLN Letter-2012-05-24

Sylvan Lake Subdivision Activity in LC-SLN-2012-02-16

Appeal of plan for development withdrawn by LC-SLN-2012-01-19

Developers required to provide recreational amenities-SLN-2012-04-12

Marina Project Sent Back for Revision-SLN-2012-04-12

Decision on marina delayed-SLN-2012-04-28

Lake’s outlet channel operating as it should-SLN-2012-04-28

County planning new parking lot for Sunbreaker Cove-SLN-2012-05-03

Slopes received approvals from Lacombe County-SLN-2012-05-03

Plan to establish cumulative effects system for lake supported-SLN-2012-01-19

Important older articles from the Sylvan Lake News:

Evaporation best solution for reducing lake water level-SLN-2011-08-04

SLN Letters on Lake Level-SLN-2011-08-04

TSL should take stronger action to protect lake-SLN-2011-07-15

Watershed Government Proposed-SLN-2009-03-27

Restricted Motor Boat Use-SLN-2009-03-27

Skyy Country Public Meeting-2009-03-04-SLN

Sylvan Lake News – Nutrient Loading Could Harm Lake-SLN-2005-03-30

The Alberta Environment’s Sylvan Lake Poster

Alberta Environment (now Alberta Environment and Sustainable resource Development) issued a series of posters on the recreational lakes in Central Alberta.

This low resolution version of the Sylvan Lake graphic contains useful facts about the watershed:

Click on the image to enlarge it.

The high resolution 10 MB file for printing posters can be opened and saved by clicking on this URL:

Ice Fishing Hut Project Presentation

The Sylvan Lake Management Committee (SLMC)  chair Beverly Anderson of Norglenwold and SLMC vice-chair and Mayor Susan Samson of the Town of Sylvan lake championed the “Ice Fishing Hut” project that is summarized in this presentation:

Ice Fishing Hut Presentation 2012

Many interested representatives of the watershed municipalities, provincial government agencies, and law enforcement cooperated to complete this project successfully.

Watershed Report Card Preview

What will the Sylvan Lake watershed look like in the future?

Annual reports by the watershed municipalities to Municipal Affairs contain some important population, land use and financial data that can be scaled up to indicate the changes that will occur in the next few decades in the growth projections hold.

Baseline data for the reporting year 2009 are increased by the ratio of populations shown in the previous SLWSS News post.

Sooner or later a population equivalent to today’s City of Red Deer will have to be compressed within the boundary of the watershed.

The corresponding land use changes will inevitably place increased stress on the lake water quality and quantity, and on all the natural capital. Municipal budgets for watershed services will expand dramatically and provincial expenditures for health, education and infrastructure will increase several-fold.

Sylvan Lake Report-Population Scaleup for Three Scenarios