A PARTICIPATORY SCIENCE APPROACH TO LAKE NUTRIENT ASSESSMENTSCategory: 2019, Current, Grant, Major Project, Water
Little Beaver Lake is a scenic lake 35 km south of Camrose and 107 km south of Edmonton in the Battle River Watershed. Many people call this lake home, with a County subdivision on its west shore, and the Village of Ferintosh on its east shore. Little Beaver Lake lies at the heart of these communities despite a persistent problem: excessive cyanobacteria blooms.
These blooms turn into dense scums that blanket the lake each year, exuding offensive odours, producing toxins which threaten human and animal health, and reducing aquatic biodiversity. Work done by a local stewardship group in partnership with the Alberta Lake Management Society (ALMS) has helped to identify the underlying cause of this problem: excess phosphorus. This element has been demonstrated to drive the growth of enormous quantities of algae and cyanobacteria, particularly in freshwater. It is also a fundamental ingredient of agricultural fertilizers, and is a key component of fertile soils. Each year, the levels of phosphorus in Little Beaver Lake far exceed those in neighbouring lakes.
This project will conduct a nutrient budget study to determine the source of excess phosphorus, and why it is a significant problem for Little Beaver Lake in particular. Like calorie counting for a lake, a nutrient budget can identify the source and relative magnitude of excessive phosphorus.
Through lake monitoring, stream assessments, and watershed modelling, this project will achieve success by pinpointing the sources of excess phosphorus contributing to the poor water quality at Little Beaver Lake. When this information is shared with decision-makers and stewards, Little Beaver Lake will be put on the radar for lake and watershed management in an effort to improve water quality and enhance ecological integrity. As the Council of the Village of Ferintosh faces a potential change in governance over to the County of Camrose, this project has the potential to inspire new leaders to enhance watershed management activities, leading to long-term benefits of improved lake health and ultimately rural sustainability.