The City of Chestermere and the Western Irrigation District (WID) have partnered together to protect Chestermere Lake from aquatic invasive species by investing in a boat cleaning system.
The boat cleaning system is a free, waterless, user-operated boat cleaning system that will allow boaters to effectively clean, drain, and dry their watercraft, to ensure the spread of aquatic invasive species is stopped.
“Chestermere Lake is the centerpiece of our community, and we recognize the importance of preventing aquatic invasive species from taking over the lake,” said Mayor Marshall Chalmers.
Adding, “We are pleased to collaborate with the WID to preserve and protect the lake for future generations; this is an excellent example of partnership in our region.”
Through funds from the City of Chestermere, WID and a grant awarded by the Alberta government through the Canadian Agriculture Partnership, the purchase of the boat cleaning system was possible.
The boat cleaning system has high-pressure air to expel debris and water from hard-to-reach areas, a grabber tool to pull weeds and organic material, a vacuum for water and debris, and a brush tool to scrub surfaces.
An organics bin will be placed next to the unit for the disposal of weeds and organic material pulled from boats.
Chestermere Lake is an irrigation reservoir that is part of an extensive system of reservoirs, pipelines, and canals that serve farms within the WID, and the efforts to protect the infrastructure will enhance water security for farmers, businesses, families, and many others who rely heavily on the irrigation network.
“We are happy to partner with the City of Chestermere to offer this system to the public. This is a great way for citizens to do their part to protect both Chestermere Lake and our downstream infrastructure. We hope all boaters will take the opportunity to use the system this summer,” said WID Board Chair Dan Shute.
To enter Chestermere Lake, boaters will still be required to provide proof of inspection from an Alberta Environment inspection site if they have been out of province with their boat.
Using the boat cleaning system does not guarantee complete decontamination, as it only utilizes air pressure and a vacuum to clean.
Alberta Environment recommends decontamination with high-pressure hot water to kill aquatic invasive species, most specifically to eliminate quagga and zebra mussels and eggs.
Aquatic invasive species such as zebra and quagga mussels pose a significant threat to Chestermere Lake and the entire irrigation network.
Invasive species are extremely hard to detect, but if established, are almost impossible to remove. They can reproduce at a rate of up to 1,000,000 new mussels per year, infesting irrigation pipes, making swimming areas dangerous and unusable, and creating noxious odours.
“These invasive species are not supposed to be here, they can plug off infrastructure and choke off pipelines which would be devastating for the WID,” Shute said.
There are fifty-two invasive species listed in the Fisheries (Alberta) Act that can cause harm to the environment as they establish residence outside of their natural range.
Once in a new body of water, these invasive aquatic species can quickly overtake the delicate ecosystem and cause unintended results such as increased infestation. This infestation can interfere with future recreational use, such as boating and swimming, and displace wildlife.
Chestermere Lake has evidence of Flowering Rush and the City of Chestermere is working proactively to prevent other aquatic invasive species from entering the lake.
Boats, kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards can carry the invasive species which can change the ecology and have a serious impact on the ecosystem.
“We encourage boaters to take up the habit of cleaning their boats, trailers, and gear before and after every use to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species,” said Plant Health Care Coordinator, Calvin Jukich.
Adding, “This system provides an extra layer of protection for Chestermere Lake from the contamination of these destructive plant and animal species and we encourage all residents and visitors to use it whenever they visit the lake.”
The unit will be located in the municipal boat launch parking area near John Peake Park and will be free of charge.
Boat launch staff will allow users into the area for public day use from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents registered for a seasonal pass will be able to access it from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
To learn more about how to clean, drain and dry your boat properly, visit alberta.ca.
To learn more about the Boat Cleaning Unit visit: www.chestermere.ca/boats