The Environment Ministry’s inability to stock fish in Humboldt Lake goes beyond the explanation of a small volume lake and a harsh winter, according to the chairman of the South Humboldt Water Users Corporation (SHWUC). Brian Klashinsky explains that the Corporation has had access to data collected by University of Regina researchers from long term studies on the lake, and using its own resources to interpret that data, has come to additional conclusions.
The group was formed as the single point of contact for the City of Humboldt in terms of the provision of potable water for its users along Humboldt Lake through its pipeline. As such, the Association is affiliated with the Water Security Agency (WSA) and regularly shares information with the WSA, the City of Humboldt, and watershed authorities.
The findings of the Corporation suggested the long term challenges faced by the lake to do with its phosphorus rich content. Years of research and data gathering indicates that the nutrient content of Humboldt Lake has been increasing since the 1960’s, according to Klashinsky. That means that the profile of the lake and the vegetation the lake harbours, particularly algae, has been changing and working toward making the lake a less healthy one in terms of its ecology. Klashinsky refers to data provided by engineering consulting firm Stantec along with long term data from the University of Regina.
“The particular data set we are using from the U of R is from 2007 to 2019. The results are very revealing and are not consistent with what the Water Security Agency comments insofar as winterkill doesn’t just happen. There’s no question that extreme temperatures can be difficult in fish populations, but a healthy lake has a much better chance to survive these extreme conditions. Humboldt Lake has had low water levels in the past but has still had fish in it.”
It’s Klashinsky’s and the Corporation’s understanding from their interpretation of the data that Humboldt Lake has gone eutrophic, meaning the nutrient rich environment has produced a critical level of decomposing plant mass that is deoxygenating the lake.
“Humboldt Lake has a phosphate concentration that is 6 to 10 times higher than what is considered to be a healthy lake,” Klashinsky maintains. “There are two significant contributors, and that is treated wastewater and agriculture and industry.”