Chestermere City Council carried a motion to purchase a Water Decontamination Station subject to successfully obtaining grant funding during the May 19 Regular Meeting of Council.
In partnership with the Western Irrigation District (WID), and subject to obtaining grant funding, a boat decontamination station in John Peake Park could be installed.
“Aquatic invasive species have the potential to be a serious problem in our waterway,” said the Parks Manager Community Operations Rick Van Gelder.
“Invasive species such as Eurasian Watermilfoil, and Zebra Mussels are spread mainly through trailer and watercraft through most of North America. Although not in Alberta yet, prevention is our best strategy to protect our water streams,” he said.
The boat decontamination station would be solar-powered, free to use, user-operated, and have cleaning equipment including a wet and dry vacuum, blower system, tethered hand tools, and lights.
“Although this is not a perfect system when it actually comes down to killing mussel larva, we feel this is a step in the right direction,” Van Gelder said.
“Mussel larva are very small, and it can be in crevices. Although it’s not going to get 100 per cent of the larva, the main thing is to get it off of the boat,” Van Gelder said.
“It’s about cleaning the boat before putting it in our water. Everything that we can do is a good thing,” he added.
Although the boat decontamination station will ensure Eurasian Watermilfoil, Zebra Mussels and Quagga Mussels don’t become prevalent in Chestermere Lake, the device will not help with Flowering Rush.
“Flowering rush is a whole different beast that seems to be carried by the water. In all the trials that we’ve done with flowering rush, we’ve found the best way to alleviate that is by mechanically digging it out,” Van Gelder said.
Moving forward, City administration will apply for grant funding which would cover 50 per cent of the device, WID subject to the approval of their board would contribute 25 per cent, and the City of Chestermere would contribute 25 per cent.
“The city’s portion of this would be $12,000, from funds remaining in the Dam Remediation Project,” Van Gelder said.
“The lake is very near and dear to us. Anything that we do towards enhancing the safety is a good thing.It’s a reasonable investment, andit will enhance the safety and the cleanliness of our lake,” said City Councillor Ritesh Narayan.
By having a boat decontamination station located near the boat launch, lake users are encouraged to wash their vessels before using the lake, which will reduce the risk of invasive species coming into Chestermere Lake.
“We have the luxury right now of having a lake that we’re all able to enjoy that isn’t infected with Zebra Mussel,” said the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Bernie Morton.
“The real question should always be, are we doing enough to protect the lake from Zebra Mussel infestation, because if we do get a Zebra Mussel infestation, the lake as we know it today will not be the same,” he said.
The natural habitat of Chestermere Lake would change because of how Zebra Mussels spread, they ruin docks, clog boats, and they can infest into the municipal piping systems.
“It’s just a matter of time before we get Zebra Mussels in the province. From our lakes perspective, doing everything we possibly can to try and make sure boats are properly cleaned, sanitized, and washed down before they go into the lake is just a small but very important step in trying to protect the lake from an infestation of Zebra Mussels,” Morton said.
“As part of the watershed committee, this is a really important issue, not just mussels but all invasive species. I would normally be all over this like a dirty shirt, but I feel like there’s no research given,” said City Councillor Yvette Kind.
She added, “I am going to support this. I get it, it’s better than having nothing, and I’m excited about it, but I don’t know where the research is. I would suggest the process be well thought out, there are provincial boat stations that you’re required to stop at for a reason. To say, here’s a self-serve, and optional cleaning station, I don’t think that’s good enough. They hide everywhere.”
Deputy Mayor Michelle Young was also in favour of the boat decontamination station as it will protect the lake.
“I’m in full support of this. It’s innovative, which is something that we as a council have promised to do in all aspects of what we do,” Young said.
“At the end of the day, not everybody is honest. You can ask if they’ve been out of province, have they recently cleaned their boat, all it’s going to take is one dishonest person to possibly ruin our lake for all the people who use it frequently,” she said.
Adding, “This device is there, and now we can see they just washed their boat. It’s protecting one of the biggest gems in our community.”