The Pembina Valley Watershed District (PVWD), in partnership with Manitoba Department of Agriculture and Resource Development, honoured the Healthy Lake Committee with the 2020 Conservation Award at their annual general meeting held earlier this year in Pilot Mound, Man.
The Conservation Award, in memory of the late Mike Cabernel, is presented each year to recognize an individual, organization, family or business that actively promotes wise farm management and conservation practices.
The Pelican Lake Healthy Water and Fish Committee, also known as The Healthy Lake Committee, is an organization that promotes water stewardship and fish habitat maintenance, and implements projects and activities to improve the water quality and overall health of Pelican Lake and her watershed in the RM of Prairie Lakes. Key areas of focus include Pelican Lake recreational fishing, overall healthy fish/aquatic habitat in Pelican Lake, and the Terry Fox Memorial Park.
Pelican Lake is a 7000 acre body of water with an average depth of approximately 10 feet, located in southwestern Manitoba. In recent years, this lake has suffered blue green cyanobacteria algae blooms, as well as significant fish die-offs. Both of these events have had significant impact on the health of the lake as well as the economic health of the area. This prompted the Healthy Lake Committee to form to attempt to do something to remedy the situation, and to continue to work towards a healthier lake going forward.
To meet their goals, the committee consulted with professionals as well as doing plenty of their own research, and decided to use a micro-bubbler aeration system consisting of many individual bubbler heads that sit on the bottom of the lake and are connected to an on-shore air supply. These bubbler heads produce micro bubbles that resemble soda pop fizz. The goal with year round aeration is to improve the health of the lake by increasing the oxygen levels. High levels of nutrients in the lake lead to algal blooms. Some algae is a food source for fish and gets consumed, however the toxic blue-green algae, which is a bacteria called cyanobacteria, is not a food source and therefore accumulates, dies and decomposes – through the addition of oxygen with aeration, the more decomposition that can be facilitated, the fewer nutrients there will be available for algae blooms.
Regular water testing indicates that since the installation of the aeration fields, the health of the lake has steadily increased. Additionally, there have been no fish die offs over winter since the aeration fields have been operating.
The Healthy Lake Committee will be recognized at the Manitoba Conservation District Association (MCDA) conference in Brandon, Man., this December, for exhibiting, exemplifying and executing environmental stewardship practices that will help enhance our environment for future generations to enjoy.