INDEX - Mussels Wabamun Watershed Management Council (WWMC),  ALMS Dip in DayWater Sewage RegulationsChemicals

Part and parcel of operating a cruising boat on Wabamun Lake is the responsibility to maintain the cleanliness of the water you are 'borrowing'.  This may seem like an odd word, but if you consider that a person is on the water for a short time, followed by someone else, then the word borrowing applies.  This being the case, we must endeavour to keep the place clean for the permanent residents; fish, birds, bugs, etc.  We all owe it to the ecology and ourselves to practice green boating.  After all, Wabamun Lake does not have a river flowing through it to flush stuff out.  But then, this is not an excuse for messing the place up either! Consider the fact that Wabamun Lake has only a few creeks trickling fresh water into it and that the majority of water is replaced by snow melt or rain. 

With this in mind, AOSA formally supports and adheres to a policy of "NO DUMPING" of faecal coliform effluent into Wabamun Lake.  Most pocket cruiser sailboats are equipped with a porta-potty that can be carried to shore.  This makes it relatively easy to dump the effluents into a toilet at home or a in a septic holding tank.  SBYC, EYC have shore dumping facilities for their members.   Other boats are equipped with a holding tank that can be pumped out.  The Wabamun Marina has a pay for use facility at their gas dock that is available to the public.  From a legal point of view it should be noted that, "the introduction of effluent into the lake is an offence under the Fisheries Act and could result in the culprit being charged."  For more information click on water sewage regulations.   TOP

Invasive Aquatic Species to Alberta Lakes - Prevent the spread of mussels. Click for legislation and guideline detailsTOP
Alberta Lake Management Society (ALMS) - Lake Watch is a volunteer-based water quality monitoring program of Alberta lakes.  This is the group you report your Secchi disk readings to.  Phil Sutton is our local representative.  TOP
WWMC - The Wabamun Watershed Management Council is a not-for-profit society that represents a cross-section of Wabamun Lake stakeholders who are committed to maintaining and improving the health of the lake and its watershed.  The Wabamun Lake sailors, represented through AOSA, is one of the stakeholders represented by a sailor who sits on the board and attends monthly meetings.  As feedback to Wabamun sailors, I'll post the minutes of the meetings here.   Please go to the WWMC web site for further information.  TOP

DIP IN DAY (2011-11-02)

On the October 19th annual general meeting for the Wabamun Watershed Management Council I submitted a proposal for a "citizen operated “Secchi Disk day" with measurements to be taken by volunteer boaters on 9 central Alberta Recreational Lakes "CARL," including Wabamun.   This day will be called “Dip in Day” and will hook up with the “Alberta Water Quality Awareness (AWQA) Day," with an ongoing data collection on the water turbidity of the lakes.   The proposal was warmly received and supported by Dr. David Schindler, whose presentation followed Phil's.  It was subsequently presented at the annual CARL meeting where it was also well received.

What is a Secchi Disk you ask?  It is a plastic disk 20 cm. in diameter divided into quarters that are painted alternately black and white.  (Think of the BMW hood emblem).  The disk was developed in 1865 by an Italian priest named Pietro Angelo Secchi to measure the turbidity (transparency) of the Mediterranean.  The disk can be mounted on the end of pole or line and is lowered into the water.  The depth at which the pattern is no longer visible is taken as a measure of the water transparency.  This measure is known as the Secchi depth and is related to water turbidity.  His technique has now become a standard for measuring water quality. 

All you need to do it commit half an hour weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly to take a measurement of the lake's Water Turbidity.  Alberta is the only jurisdiction in North America not taking these measurements.  Elsewhere the program is highly successful in improving water bodies by showing the water quality problems to the public in an easy to understand method. 
Classes will be given for it’s use this winter.   If you want to practice taking a Secchi reading before summer then click on SECCHI READING SIMULATOR.   It's a good simulation program and probably indispensable in order to get uniform and repeatable readings with a wide range of users.  The simulation uses your key board arrows to control the depth of the disk.  Read the on screen instructions before taking a plunge.  I give it 4 1/2 fisheyes out of 5.

So if you have a small boat, anything from a canoe on up that is built close to the water, and can devote a little time to making Alberta a better place, PLEASE contact Phil Sutton (780) 450-1277 or Glen Gustafson (780) 960-8631, to signify your interest.

There will be a small investment in time for training and taking the measurement as well as the equipment which should cost about $50.00 or less if we buy in bulk.  Boats could be anything from a canoe to small fishing boat, runabout or bow rider.  A Pontoon boat, large sail boat or cabin cruiser with high freeboard will not work unless you can get right down to water level.                                                      Phil Sutton  WWMC.  TOP

New Water Sewage (Poo) Regulations for Small Craft, (Published June 17, 2006).

It’s official!  The controversial new sewage regulations for small craft have been finalized and will go into effect in 2012 for vessels built prior to May 2007.  The new regulations will require that sewage be either treated or contained, and subsequently disposed of at a pump-out facility or, if none is available, a specified distance from shore while under way. 
On June 17, 2006, the federal government published in the Canada Gazette Part I new proposed sewage pollution prevention regulations that would affect all small vessels with a head installed.  Numerous comments were received from recreational boaters and commercial and recreational boating organizations.  Transport Canada (TC) then conducted a number of consultative meetings in an attempt to resolve the issues raised. 

Many of the more problematic concerns were addressed, and on May 3, 2007, the new regulations for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and for Dangerous Chemicals were published in the Canada Gazette Part II and brought into law.  These regulations are quite detailed and include pollutants such as oil, noxious liquids, dangerous chemicals, garbage, air, anti-fouling systems and, of course, sewage, and are applicable to large commercial vessels, vessels carrying more than 15 persons, and pleasure craft.  Publishing the new regulations allowed TC to repeal a number of old regulations, including the former Pleasure Craft Sewage Pollution Prevention Regulations and the Non-Pleasure Craft Sewage Pollution Prevention Regulations. 

According to TC, these new regulations will permit Canada to accede to the IMO (International Maritime Organization) Annex IV of the Pollution Convention.  Previously, boaters could discharge sewage in most B.C. waters except those specifically designated as “No Discharge Areas” (now known as Designated Sewage Areas).  For those wishing to view the whole document, the regulations are published in the Canada Gazette.  Pacific Yachting magazine has provided a summary as follows.

IMPLEMENTATION - For “new” vessels built after May 3, 2007, and for all vessels operating in a Designated Sewage Area, these regulations must now be complied with effective immediately.  For vessels in existence when these regulations were gazetted, compliance is required within five years (by May 3, 2012). 

APPROVED HEAD - Most pleasure boats will need to be equipped with an approved marine sanitation device (MSD), holding tank or facility for temporary storage.  The “approved” MSD for recreational boats must be a U.S. Coast Guard Type II.  A holding tank must be properly constructed, have adequate capacity, and have a means of determining fill level without the tank being opened.  “Facility for Temporary Storage” is permitted if it is not practical to install either an MSD or a holding tank, and a measure is in place to ensure the proper disposal of sewage.  This would include devices such as non-plumbed porta-potty or buckets. 

SEWAGE DISCHARGE - Except when a discharge is necessary for the saving of lives, safety of the vessel or as otherwise specifically authorized, no discharge of sewage or sewage sludge is permitted. 

The discharge of sewage from a vessel is, however, authorized if the vessel is equipped with:

MSD (USCG Type II) are devices that treat sewage with disinfectant chemicals (and by other means) to a specified level before discharge.  Because of size and power requirements, MSDs are usually only found on large yachts. 

  1. In the case of a vessel in a Designated Sewage Area, the discharge is passed through a MSD and the effluent has a fecal coliform count that is 14/100 mL or less; or

  2. In an area other than a Designated Sewage Area, the discharge is passed through a MSD and the effluent has a fecal coliform count that is 250/100 mL or less; or

  3. If not in inland waters or a Designated Sewage Area, the sewage is comminuted and disinfected using an approved MSD, and the discharge is made at a distance of at least one mile from shore.  The discharge of sewage shall not cause a film or sheen to develop on the water or cause a discolouration of the water or its adjoining shorelines, cause sewage sludge or an emulsion to be deposited beneath the surface of the water or upon its adjoining shorelines, and shall not contain any visible solids.

Note: Operational testing of effluent from a MSD may be required to ensure that the effluent meets the required fecal coliform standards, and the total suspended solids content of the samples of effluent is 50 mg/L or less; the five-day biochemical oxygen demand of the samples of effluent is 50 mg/L or less; and in the case of chlorine used as a disinfectant, the total residual chlorine content of the samples of effluent is 0.5 mg/L or less.


  1. The discharge is made at a distance of at least three miles from shore while the ship is under way at the fastest practicable speed; or

  2. If it is not practicable to comply because the ship is located in waters that are less than six miles from shore to shore, the discharge is made while the ship is enroute at a speed of four knots or more or, if it is not practicable at that speed, at the fastest practicable speed, into the deepest waters that are located the farthest from shore during an ebb tide, or into the deepest and fastest moving waters that are located the farthest from shore; and the discharge shall not cause visible solids to be deposited upon the shoreline.

  3. Such discharge is not authorized if a reception facility is available to receive the sewage.

  4. Facilities for Temporary Storage would normally be emptied into on-shore facilities.  If under way, discharge restrictions are as for a holding tank. 

DESIGNATED SEWAGE AREAS - Schedule 4 to the new regulations lists and describes the former 17 “No Discharge Areas” (now known as Designated Sewage Areas) still in effect.  They are:

  • LAKES - Shuswap Lake, Mara Lake, Okanagan Lake, Christina Lake, Horsefly Lake, Kalamalka Lake, Pilot Bay in Kootenay Lake east of Nelson, Stuart Lake northwest of Fort St. James.

  • SALT WATER - Carrington Bay, Cortes Bay, Manson’s Landing and Gorge Harbour, Montague Harbour, Pilot Bay on the north coast of Gabriola Island, Prideaux Haven, Roscoe Bay, Smuggler Cove and Squirrel Cove.

IN SUMMARY - A vessels with a head is expected to be equipped with an approved MSD or some means of sewage containment (holding tank).  With an approved MSD, sewage may, under specified conditions, be discharged into most B.C. waters one mile or more from shore.  Untreated sewage may, under specified conditions, be discharged into most B.C. waters three miles or more from shore.  In a body of water less than six miles across and under specified conditions, sewage must be discharged as far from shore as possible, providing a pump-out facility is not available.  TOP


Certain chemical based boat maintenance jobs should never be done while the boat is afloat for the risk of spilling toxic stuff in the water.  The  marine life simply cannot live it.   If the marine life can't live with it, neither can you!  These jobs are OK to do while the boat is on land provided you can contain and safely dispose of the cleaners, etc.  However, some maintenance jobs can be performed while the boat is afloat provided the chemicals are "environmentally friendly" AND you take the precautions to prevent spillage.  The obvious conclusion should come to mind, "don't pollute the water or shores around the lake."  Unfortunately labels are not always understandable.  For instance, many cleaners contain phosphates that promote algae growth and others contain minute amounts of toxics that will kill any life form.  

In the interest of a safer environment I'm offering here a list of chemicals that are "safe" to use while on the water.  I welcome you to add to this list to share your knowledge with the rest of the boating community.  Please email suggestions to me. 

Amsoil Saber Outboard 100:1    X A high quality synthetic 2-cycle outboard oil that is good enough to mix at 100:1 for your 50:1 engine. This automatically cuts the pollution in half. In fact, I regularly mix my outboard gas at 150:1 with absolutely no problem to the engine.
Gasoline X   A gasoline tank should never be filled on water due to the risk of spillage and the fact that it is instant death to certain marine life.  To transfer fuel from a jug to the tank use a sealed hose or large funnel.  If you can't use this technique, fill your tank on shore.
Pink Stuff.   X Clean the alkali stain just above the water line.
? X   Wax the hull.
?   X Clean acrylic windows or hatches.
Dew. Yup the stuff that lies on your deck in early morning.   X Clean a fiberglass deck with pure water.  Rain or dew, has an incredible capacity to absorb things which makes it perfect for cleaning fiberglass on its own.  Simply wipe while the surface is still wet.
? X   Clean fenders or other vinyl.
Thetford Auqua-chem   X Odor killing chemicals for a port-potty.
? X   Clean Dacron sails.
Vinegar soaked in a clean cloth.   X Cleans mould and mildew from bright work.  Also cleans the BBQ, windows and leaves stainless steel shiny. 

We all owe it to the ecology and ourselves to practice green boating as much as possible.
- On the west coast of BC, the issue has been raised via the media and many solutions are in place.  For more info, click on Georgia Strait Alliance.
- The Wabamun Watch Society voluntarily monitors the ecology of the Wabamun Lake.
- Today we also have the Wabamun Water Shed Management Council.

Ultimately we are all part of the problem or part of the solution.  TOP