Increasing recreational demand, urbanization of lakeshores and changing land uses are putting stress on many of Alberta’s lakes, affecting lake health as well as recreational experiences. A new report from the Alberta Water Council (AWC) recommends 12 ways the Province can improve management of lakes and watersheds.
“Municipalities on the edge of lakes are facing challenges related to fluctuating water levels, changes in water quality, harmful algal blooms and fish kills, invasive species and climate change,” says Mayor Peter Pellatt, AUMA director of summer villages and president of the association of summer villages of Alberta, who participated on the AWC team that developed the recommendations. The recommendations are intended to support work by municipalities, the province, non-government organizations, others as they manage lake watersheds.
The AWC project also found that coordinating the many planning and decision-making processes that influence the ecological health of a lake watershed is often a challenge, given the number of players, differing mandates and the various pieces of relevant policy and legislation. The report emphasizes the need for a more holistic approach to planning and management that is backed by sound science and research. “As lake watershed health issues become more prominent, enhanced coordination is needed to ensure that planning and management decisions are implemented,” says Richard Casey, Senior Limnologist with Alberta Environment and Parks.
Recommendations to Improve Lake Watershed Management in Alberta outlines how to improve management in several key areas including science and knowledge, regulatory and voluntary tools for managing the uplands, and improving access to tools and education. These recommendations will support the Government of Alberta’s development of a provincial lake policy, foster greater provincial coordination of stakeholders and ultimately lead to improved lake watershed management in Alberta.