Starland County is looking at some of its water bodies and how to make them healthier.
Manager of Municipal Services Glen Riep was joined by Dominique Primeau and Craig Copeland of Alberta Environment and Parks at the November 10 Starland County council meeting to discuss the state of the fish habitat in the McLaren and Michichi Dams.
Water quality testing was done in both habitats to determine the viability of trout in the reservoirs. He says there is not a single solution to better the health of the
water bodies to support the fish stocks. He also notes it seems there is lots of food in the water, that maybe prevents fish from biting. There is also fish wintering over in the Michichi, but there are areas that could improve the habitat.
“There are some things we can look into in as far as establishing a better habitat for the fish in there, but also there are some major things that would have to go into that, so it is something we are investigating,” Reip tells the Mail.
They have identified issues such as water quality as well as bird predation not allowing the fish stocks to take hold.
He says Alberta Environment is proposing a couple of ideas that could help, including double stocking the water bodies, or possibly stocking with bigger fish.
‘We have issues with predators affecting the fish populations as well, so we are looking at a larger fish which they can’t prey on, so there are different things we are looking at doing,” he said. ‘That was part of the assessment of the waterbodies, to figure out if it is water quality, if is the habitat itself, if there are any influences from the agriculture that could cause a change in the water quality. So they did a fairly in-depth kind of study. It will help them as well as the county if we want to incorporate some initiatives.
There are some ways to protect water bodies from the influence of agriculture.
“The nitrates that come off agricultural land, you can’t stop all of it. That is one of the things we are looking at is the vegetation and maybe some setbacks with just grass as a buffer zone that acts as a natural filter,” he said.
“We are also looking for funding too,” said Reip. “Budgets are being cut everywhere, so finding money is not as easy as it was 10 years ago, but we certainly want to do what we can.”