Empowering Municipalities for Environmental Management

This text is extracted from the Environmental Law Centre’s website;


It is the ELC’s view that municipalities have the potential to play a pivotal role in environmental management and protection in Alberta. Municipalities have the authority to control and regulate many private land uses. As well, municipalities have the responsibility for engaging in local land use planning through the use of statutory plans (for example municipal development plans and area structure plans) and land use by-laws. The ELC would like to see environmental management and protection as a priority in the activities of municipalities.

By way of summary, our recommendations fall into five broad areas:

  1. Protection and management of the environment is a valid municipal planning purpose and, as such, should be expressly recognized in the MGA.
  2. The MGA should incorporate by-law purposes specific to protection and management of the environment.
  3. The MGA should expand the enforcement tools available to municipalities for the purposes of environmental protection and management.
  4. The MGA should expand the revenue generation options available to municipalities to enable environmental stewardship and, particularly, land conservation.
  5. The MGA should enhance opportunities for public participation in municipal planning processes.

Click here to read the full set of recommendations.



Blue-Green Algae in Lakes. Advisories for 2014.

Alberta Health advisories are posted here:


Central Zone advisories on 2014-07-12 are:

Click here for Inactive Central Zone Health Advisories




Living By Water Project 2014

Living By Water 2014


Show off your lake stewardship commitment to your neighbours.

Display this SLWSS yard sign after you complete your Home Consultation.


Watershed Steward Sign

Sylvan Lake’s Quiet Enjoyment Initiative

People who live in or visit the Sylvan Lake watershed are entitled to enjoy it. The law says so. However, a few disrespectful guests choose to emit excessive levels of noise that adversely affect the recreational lake environment.

That’s where the Quiet Enjoyment Initiative (QEI) team of the SLWSS comes in. Led by subcommittee chairman Kent Lyle, dedicated members have analyzed the noise pollution situation in the watershed, classified the main noise sources, considered community standards for noise emissions, and are now ready to introduce an action plan for adoption by watershed municipalities.

More than a decade ago member municipalities of the Sylvan Lake Management Plan Committee agreed that “Each municipality will adopt a by-law restricting the use of municipally owned land for the launching of boats without proper noise abatement mechanisms and such other by-laws as may be appropriate to eliminate one major source of noise pollution on the lake.” 

Since then powerboat technology has changed. Engine horsepower has increased with wake-boarding popularity. Sometimes mufflers are illegally bypassed. On-board sound systems can now command the attention of the whole watershed, even without an invitation to do so. Sounds like to travel long distances over water in summer and snow and ice in winter.

Noise levels are increasing everywhere. Sylvan Lake is not unique. Some lake communities already regulate their environments for the benefit of all. See the municipal bylaws that are enforced in BC.

BC Signs

 Signs posted at BC lakes.

According to the QEI team’s analysis these are the main sources of noise on or over Sylvan Lake, in order of overall negative impact on the environment and on the lake’s recreational users:

Powerboats that emit exhaust above the water line;

Loud music originating from any private or commercial boat;

Personal Watercraft (PWCs);

Quads, snow machines, ATVs, motorcycles & dirt bikes;

Aircraft (small planes, float planes, helicopters & water bombers).

The QEI team has worked closely with the Environmental Law Centre to understand the municipal laws and regulations for control of noise emissions. To view the legal research on “Municipal Powers to Address Noise from Recreational Use of Sylvan Lake, AB” by ELC staff council Adam Driedzic, click here.






The Central Alberta Recreational Lakes Initiative

Representatives of the Central Alberta Recreational Lakes (CARL) and many supporting organizations have an exclusive club that meets annually to discuss the status of local environments and to learn about issues that affect lake and watershed health.

For an introduction to CARL, see this website that is maintained by Alberta’s Environment and Sustainable Resources Development department staff. It includes links to lake stewardship groups, laws and regulations, and key stewardship organizations that work towards maintaining and protecting lake and watershed health.

Several fact sheets are posted on topics that are important to CARL members, lake residents and watershed visitors.

The latest meeting held at the Pine Lake Hub Centre on May 14 was focused on these topics of ongoing interest to members and their lakes as outlines in the agenda below. The slides for the SLWSS president’s report for Sylvan Lake are posted here.

Agenda 2014




Cows and Fish Tips for the Sylvan Lake Watershed

Cows and Fish know everything.

See the page of free publications that includes fact sheets on many topics that are important to watershed health and protection of lakes, streams and wetlands. Click here for a one-page pdf extract that contains links to the most relevant Cows and Fish pamphlets.



A Bacterium that Kills Zebra and Quagga Mussels

The New York Times reported on February 25 that a strain of bacteria has been found that can kill off zebra and quagga mussels that threaten fresh water bodies.

Read the full NYT article here.

Bacterial control is not yet approved for lakes. The principle has only been demonstrated and tested in closed systems.

Kate Wilson, Aquatic Invasive Species Program Coordinator, Fish & Wildlife Policy Branch of Alberta Environment has advised the SLWSS News that trials of the commercial formulation Zequanox are being monitored and possible uses are being discussed for potential application if and when the product receives regulatory clearance for use.

Sylvan Lake continues to welcome boaters who understand the consequences of zebra and quagga mussel invasive species and who decontaminate their watercraft and marine equipment before launching. The bacterium Pseudomonas fluorescens is not a substitute for responsible boating practices:

Clean. Drain. Dry.

Golf Course Creek Studied by the Town of Sylvan Lake

On November 12 the new Town of Sylvan Lake council received a report “Marina Bay/Golf Course Creek Study” prepared by Tagish Engineering. Soil and water samples from points in Sylvan Lake, Marina Bay and upstream in the Golf Course Creek catchment were collected and analyzed. The project data show how land use changes in the watershed can affect tributaries that flow into Sylvan Lake. This article in the Sylvan Lake News by Editor Steve Dills provides a summary of the Tagish Engineering report findings. The overall finding is not surprising that settling of silt in the bay is minimal from sources such as new development construction in the Town of Sylvan Lake and/or annual agricultural practices in Red Deer County. Wetlands and ponds on Sylvan Lake Golf and Country Club property provide upstream locations for any suspended particles to settle before Golf Course Creek flow reaches Marina Bay.

The community remembers that Marina Bay exists because the natural protective wetland delta that once existed at the outlet of Golf Course Creek was excavated to create the reclaimed landfill area on which the Marina Bay development was built.

The two Laws of Watersheds apply in this case: (1) water flows downhill and (2) stuff from the land will end up in the lake. Nature trumps complaints of this type. Some Sylvan Lake citizens and taxpayers liked the original wetland the way it was. So did Sylvan Lake.

Groundwater Wells in the Sylvan Lake Watershed

The Town of Sylvan Lake, the Summer Villages, and all other domestic and agricultural users rely on groundwater.

This Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resources Development website provides access to information on water wells withing the Sylvan Lake watershed.

Use the map control tools to zoom in on an area of interest and click on a well to discover the ID number. Then click on the ID link to call up the driller’s report on the well stratigraphy and the result of the pump flow test, if any.

Wells in the Sylvan Lake Watershed.v2

This map is a copy of the web page content. Click to enlarge.

Try out this useful ESRD database. Find your own well, and those of others in your neighborhood. Discover the depth from which your water is pumped. It your water source connected to Sylvan Lake itself? Are you really drinking lake water?

The Town of Sylvan Lake is by far the largest single water user although some of its production wells are located outside the official watershed boundary.

History of Sylvan Lake

Evan Verchomin, SLWSS director and resident of the Summer Village of Birchcliff, had his article about the history of settlement at Sylvan Lake published in the October 6th edition of the Sylvan Lake News.

Click on the linked text to open the story.

Be sure to view the related photo archive gallery on this SLWSS News web page.


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