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Healthy Lake Committee

637 10th Street Brandon, MB, R7A4G6

204.727.4700

info@healthylake.ca

Newsletter - July 2019

Zebra Mussels Remain an Imminent Threat

Zebra mussels continue to be one of the biggest threats to Pelican Lake. We all must continue to be EXTRA diligent about keeping Pelican Lake free of zebra mussels! The larvae are too small to see and therefore can easily be transported from one lake to another. PLEASE SHARE this information and remind everyone at Pelican Lake that if they've had their boat, fishing gear, life jackets, or any other equipment in another lake (even a non-infested one), or if you've bought a boat or equipment from another lake, it should be thoroughly inspected and decontaminated as per government guidelines. A regular washing will not get rid of zebra mussels or larvae. ONCE ZEBRA MUSSELS ARE IN PELICAN LAKE, INFESTATION WILL BE QUICK AND UNSTOPPABLE. So whether you are a boater or not, let's all do our part to watch over our lake and keep it healthy! You might be surprised how many people still don’t know about zebra mussels and the threat they pose to our lake. Please contact us at info@healthylake.ca if you would like some 'Don't Move a Mussel' signage or informational brochures (view HERE ). 

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Blue Green Algae Noticeable This Summer

Algae Advisory signs have been posted by the Manitoba Government at Pelican lake. The Manitoba Sustainable Development Water Quality Management Section routinely monitors about 60 swimming beaches across Manitoba each summer and Pelican Lake is on that list, with both the North (Terry Fox Park area) and South (Pleasant Valley) being monitored.  On June 12th they sampled at both locations for Blue Green Algae cell counts. If the cell count is above 100,000 cells per mL they post a first level advisory sign; North end tested at 353,000 and South end tested at 281,000. They also test for the Microcystin toxin, which is the toxin that some blue green algae produces. This toxin is what can make people/pets/livestock etc sick when ingested. If the microcystin levels are 20 ug/L or higher, they will post another sign that says swimming or any contact with water is not recommended. The test results for microcystins were 5.4 ug/L at the North end and 4 ug/L at the South end; meaning the beaches are still safe to use. Based on these results, our opinion is that it is still safe to swim in the lake as long as no blooms are visible. However, as always, the following practices are recommended by the Healthy Lake Committee for lake swimmers no matter the conditions: 

  • Do not swallow lake water while swimming, and try to prevent pets from drinking lake water

  • Rinse off/shower after finished swimming in the lake

  • If you see an algal bloom it is best to avoid swimming in the lake

So Why is the Lake so Green? 

In 2016 after four years of aeration and good environmental conditions, the lake appeared to be generally quite clear, with many residents and visitors commenting on the clarity.  Unfortunately, spring of 2017 brought an unusually high volume of spring run off. This run off water is inevitably loaded with high levels of nutrients, specifically phosphates. And as we all know, during high water events Pelican lake releases water out of the south end of the lake. Therefore, in 2017, by our calculations, approx 75% of the water in the lake that we had been cleaning up for four years, was displaced with high nutrient water inputs. Fast forward to summer of 2019 (present) and our water testing shows that nutrient levels have come back down to near desirable levels, however the lake remains green. There are many possible reasons for this: 

  • environmental conditions this season: lower water level causes nutrient concentration and allows the lake to become warmer than normal (encourages algae blooms). Additionally, there have been more sunny days this season, another benefit to algae blooms. 

  • nutrient recycling: when algae dies, the next generation of algae uses the nutrients from the dead algae therefore recirculating it. 

  • anecdotally, we suspect that higher carp populations may be playing a role, as this species of fish constantly disturbs the bottom of the lake, distributing additional nutrients into the water column.

Solution? Time, and continued aeration - the longer period between large volumes of run-off inputs, the cleaner the lake will get, due to natural processes and aeration. The aeration de-stratifies the lake in the summer and prevents fish die-offs in the winter, allowing the lake to slowly use up excess nutrients and eventually return to a clearer state. Unfortunately our ability to limit or lower the amount of nutrient input into the lake is quite limited, so therefore we focus on enhancing the natural process of nutrient breakdown with aeration. 

Spawning Shoals Appear Successful

In late winter 2017/2018, in conjunction with Assiniboine Hills Conservation District and AAE Tech Services, we assisted with installing walleye spawning shoals in the northern basin of the lake. Early this spring we placed mats on the shoals, which allow eggs to be seen if spawning occurs there. Assiniboine Hills Conservation District confirmed that walleye eggs were found on the mats since, which is very promising.

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Fish Population Census Project Planned

In conjunction with AAE Tech Services we have applied for a grant through Fish and Wildlife Enhancement Fund to conduct a fish population census this summer. The purpose of this project is to collect data on the various fish species in the lake, including age of fish etc.  This will help us determine the health and longevity of the fish populations in Pelican Lake.  One of the important questions we want answered is - what is the overall volume of carp and the impact they are having on the lake.  We know from recent MB Conservation census data that sport fish species numbers are down, and carp numbers are up; this census project will give us a current and highly accurate measurement of this. 

Big Upgrades to Northern Basin Aeration Field 

In late summer/fall 2019 the Healthy Lake Committee will be doing a completion/upgrade project on the Northern Basin aeration field. This field was first installed in 2013 and was our pilot project. Since then we have modified and improved our bubbler head design and layout. There were 8 lines bored 500ft under the lake when the field was first installed; however we only installed heads on the first 4 lines that first year. The heads we used were pre-made from a manufacturer, and are expensive, bulky, and heavy, and have been damaged by boat traffic over the years. They were also installed too close together along the lines. The Healthy Lake Committee's proprietary design bubbler heads are a quarter of the cost and are easy to install and replace as necessary and far more durable. We installed these newly designed heads on lines 5 - 7 over the following couple of years. Phase One of the project will be replacing the original bubbler heads on lines 1-4 with new ones, and placing the heads farther apart for a more efficient operation. In addition we will be installing the last remaining line (#8) that until now has been unused. Phase Two of the project will be decommissioning and removing the original small compressor booth and replacing it with a soundproofed, properly designed compressor shed. This will involve excavating to move the buried pipes at the shoreline over approx. 20 feet, moving the power and electrical service, and installing the proper base materials and placing the new shed. The completion of this project will give us a finished, fully functional and more efficient aeration field with an increased air capacity, and an easy to access shed for servicing the compressors and equipment. Our regular water testing indicates that since the installation of our 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. Continued water testing and recording will show that the upgrades to the northern field detailed in this project will support our continued success in improving the health of Pelican Lake.  

Pickerel Fry Released in Pelican Lake

In early June we released 1.3 million pickerel fry (from Manitoba Conservation Fisheries Branch) into Pelican Lake

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Annual Great Pelican Golf Tournament a Success 

The 15th Annual Great Pelican Golf Tournament was held on Saturday, June 22, 2019. Weather was perfect and 132 golfers attended, with a shotgun start at noon, and a post-game steak dinner. A big thank you to the volunteers and sponsors! This annual tournament hosted by the Pleasant Valley Golf Club helps support the Healthy Lake Committee's efforts to maintain a healthy Pelican Lake. 

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Ice Fishing Derby Recap

The sixth annual Healthy Lake Ice Fishing Derby was held on Saturday March 2, 2019 in the northern basin of Pelican Lake, at Ninette, MB. Despite the brutally cold temperatures, the derby was a great success with 470 Adult anglers and 73 Junior anglers that came out to fish, for a total participant number of 543!  During the four hours of derby fishing a total of 36 fish were measured; 14 Northern Pike, 10 Perch, and 12 Walleye.  Congratulations to Kevin Gudz of Brandon, MB, who caught the longest fish overall in the derby; a Northern Pike measuring 87 cm. As the winner of the derby, Kevin won a 2019 Can Am Outlander 450 Quad valued at $8,160, sponsored by Enns Brothers! Also, congratulations to Amber Boulet of Treherne, MB, who caught the longest fish in the Junior category, a Northern Pike at 84 cm. Amber won a Perception Sport Swiftwater kayak sponsored by Jo-Brook Outdoors.  All of the derby winners are posted at www.healthylake.ca.  Thank you to all of the anglers who attended, and a special thank you to all of our hardworking and tireless volunteers that persevered through our coldest derby yet! All proceeds will go towards our continued aeration efforts in Pelican Lake. Mark your calendars for the next derby on March 7, 2020!

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