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Pond Rehabilitation Project

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One of the ACA grants for which we received funding this year was to assist in a pond rehabilitation project being conducted by ACA at Rainbow Park in Westlock. Our involvement was largely because of the possible implications of this work for other lakes experiencing declining water quality, especially in the greater Edmonton area.  As part of that involvement, we submitted the article below to the local paper, Westlock News.  It was published on April 18th although with some additions made by the editor:   

Some Local Fishing News

Just another week or two and the ice will be off the local lakes, many of which will then be stocked with trout for those who enjoy a few hours of sport fishing. The provincial Fish and Wildlife division stocks many of Alberta’s lakes, but most of the fishing ponds in Edmonton and the area immediately north receive their new stock of trout each year from the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA).  ACA’s stocking trucks will arrive prior to the May long weekend at Morinville, Lacombe and Hermitage Park Ponds, in Gibbons, Lamont, and Radway, at Legal Reservoir and the Fort Saskatchewan Lions Pond. Not everyone has the time or money to travel far out of town for a day’s fishing and these local opportunities provide not just fish but recreational, social, emotional and health benefits for all.

There’s one pond in the area though that won’t be stocked this year until the fall - Rainbow Park Pond, east of Westlock. That pond is getting some extra attention from ACA. It was chosen as the best site to try fixing a problem that it and other stocked fisheries are now facing - many of the fish not surviving beyond mid-summer. The problem is related to an increase in nutrients in the water - primarily nitrogen and phosphorous - which decrease the level of dissolved oxygen (DO) throughout the pond. All aquatic animals need DO to survive and its decrease where water quality is an issue is leading to the death of fish. To add to the problem, summer temperatures are becoming higher and warm water doesn’t maintain DO as well as cold. Algae blooms and summer fish-kills are becoming more frequent.

There’s not much ACA staff can do about the higher temperatures, but they researched the science on water quality, did some testing of their own and came up with a solution that Alberta Environment and Parks approved as meeting the requirements of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. It involves treating the pond with a very specific amount of alum that will maintain more favourable water quality for fish and invertebrate survival by significantly reducing phosphorus concentrations. Improved water quality will help keep DO levels higher through summer, fall and into the winter. If this works as expected then it will be good news not only for Rainbow Park Pond, its fish and anglers, but for many other ponds experiencing the same problem.

Meanwhile, there are many other ponds not too far from home to enjoy the pleasures and benefits of angling and maybe catch a fish or two for dinner. And, if there’s a pond in your area not on the fish stocking list that you think might make a good recreational fishery, please let ACA and your local council know.

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