After Alberta Environment wrote to the M.D. of Bonnyville saying they were removing the weir at Moose Lake, a local group thinks it’s a bad idea.
The weir located downstream of Moose Lake on Moose Lake River will be removed following public consultation with the public, including Metis and First Nations groups, the province said in the letter.
Kellie Nichiporik, chair of the Moose Lake Watershed Society, said she is against removing the weir because it would not have the intended effect of lowering water levels and could do damage to the ecosystem.
“We’re more concerned with the damage removing the weir can cause. It can create a lot of sedimentation. You’re destroying the bed and shore of the outlet of Moose Lake. Essentially it’s going to be affecting fish habitat as well as the wildlife that uses that area as well,” she said.
“I think a lot of people think the removal of the weir is going to be the answer to removing a lot of the flooding issues that have occurring the past few years…Amec Foster did a report using linar, hydrologic modeling. Really the removal of the weir might only result in a 0.2 metre drop in the lake. The perspective is you’re going to do more harm than good by removing the weir alone.”
In 2017, the M.D of Bonnyville hosted an open house with Alberta Environment and committed to a study about the weir’s effect on the water levels.
“The study concluded that due to the ineffective nature of the weir, the preferred option would be to remove the structure and return the lake to its natural state,” the letter stated.
Nichiporik said the removal of beaver dams and reeds would address the flooding issues much more effectively.
“There’s probably around 8-10 beaver dams that are along the Moose Lake outlet as well as a lot of reed beds and that’s what’s causing the water to be not moving along as well,” she said.
“There’s only about a 1.2-metre elevation difference between the lake at the outlet and where it joins the Beaver River…the elevation difference isn’t going to make up a huge difference. It’s not going to alleviate a lot of that flooding.”
She fears some of the ramifications of removing the weir.
“Disturbing a lot of the fish habitat. I know it has to go back to the province. They have to remove it when it is not affecting fish spawning and really they’re trying to minimize the amount of function. It affects the reed beds. It affects the sedimentation that can happen, so it’s in a lower water quality even downstream for our downstream users in the Beaver River. It can have a huge accumulation effect downstream.
“People will probably see it drop two feet in the first year, but then again it’s also going to depend on those beaver dams. What we proposed was that we do a little bit more beaver management. Maybe put in some pond levelers where it allows water to flow through and keep the dams in tact, but we can choose what level the water is going to be going down to.”
Public consultation must happen before the province removes the weir.