The growing concern over Moose Lake has led to local government putting money where their mouth is.
The Municipal District of Bonnyville council set aside up to $50,000 to purchase testing equipment to gain more data about Moose Lake.
It will be donated to the Moose Lake Watershed Society to run the necessary environmental tests.
This is partly a response to the online petition about Moose Lake’s health which had over 1,500 online signatures, and the follow-up public forum hosted by the Lakeland Agricultural Research Association Monday night.
“It was actually pretty obvious coming out of that meeting that that would be a natural first step,” said Reeve Greg Sawchuk who attended the meeting.
“From our standpoint, instead of waiting for the Watershed Society to come forward with the exact proposal, let’s just get on this thing now and let them know that they’ve got our support.
“If they got the equipment quick, maybe they could do some testing this fall,” he said.
A major takeaway from the meeting (attended by 16 residents and several municipal politicians) was that more people need to be involved in the Moose Lake Watershed Society to show the government its worth future funding.
And with the limited data, it isn’t clear what grand solutions would actually help.
So acquiring the equipment, like the qPCR machine which measures DNA, is a necessary first step.
“That’s going to mean a great deal for us to purchase equipment and get some valuable research out of it,” said Moose Lake Watershed Society chair, Kellie Nichiporik.
Nichiporik wants to do a full year of DNA sampling to figure out what could be causing the worsening blue-green algae blooms. That way, it will become easier to find a solution that works.
“It will allow us to look at the different DNA that’s going to be in the water. We’re going to be targeting humans, avian, and livestock, and anything else we deem to be a contributor as well. So it’s going to allow us to look at what’s in the water and quantify what’s out there,” said Nichiporik.
“We had been looking through the U of A and Alberta Innovates and other places, and nobody has the capacity to do our sampling, and this will allow us to that ourselves. As well as neighboring lakes if they were doing it as well,” she said.
Moose Lake is eutrophic, which means densely loaded with nutrients.
From the conversations with LARA and LICA, phosphorous levels seem to be a primary concern.
The online petition started by Mitch Sylvestre referenced the Moose Lake Watershed Management Plan signed in 2006 by the Town and M.D., and hoped to motivate them to act.