June 6, 2024

Breakdown of AHS Public Health Advisory | 2024

Dear Residents,

Following the recent public health advisory issued by Alberta Health Services (AHS) regarding Lake Summerside, we understand there are concerns. We want to give you a comprehensive update so you are fully informed and assured of our commitment to your health and safety.

Background and Actions
May 30:
– AHS notified us of a possible lake shutdown due to elevated contamination levels but was told further consultation with SSRA would occur.
– To ensure the safety of Lake Summerside residents, we began preparing for a potential advisory and posted initial signage.

May 31:
– Additional signage was posted to ensure residents were aware and could take necessary precautions.
– During a meeting with the AHS representative, we were informed that a health advisory would be issued, even though secondary testing to confirm the initial results had not been completed.
– Our independent environmental consulting company, Aquality, informed us that the advisory had already been released before the advisor officially notified us.

The health advisory was released on Friday, May 31. Since AHS only tests between Monday and Wednesday, we could not have further testing completed by AHS until this week. However, we used Aquality to re-test on the morning of May 31. These results became available this week.

Our Approach and Findings

Aquality performed comprehensive tests to identify the specific contaminants and their sources. These tests revealed that Enterococcus levels were elevated, primarily due to increased wildlife activity around the lake area, particularly geese.

Further testing confirmed that no significant human or ruminant bacteria sources were present, indicating that the water quality, despite the initial advisory, is considered acceptable for recreational use.

AHS requires two weeks of precise results before they lift the advisory. Despite this requirement, we plan to re-open the lake by the end of the week based on our testing results. The results have shown that contamination levels are under the safe thresholds. We will continue testing to have the advisory officially lifted by AHS.

Addressing Residents’ Concerns

We understand that you are concerned about Lake Summerside’s advisory and closure. The health and safety of our residents and our lake are of the utmost importance. It is important to remember that Lake Summerside is a natural habitat, and maintaining its delicate ecosystem sometimes requires temporary restrictions to ensure long-term health and safety.

Our collaboration with AHS was initially a voluntary program intended to enhance our monitoring efforts. Unfortunately, AHS issued the public health advisory without prior consultation or confirmation of their results, creating confusion and concern.

Please know that we are committed to improving the situation as soon as possible and re-opening access to the lake.

Ongoing Efforts and Future Plans
Our most recent test results from Aquality show that contamination levels are below the safe thresholds. In the meantime, we have implemented several immediate measures to mitigate the spread of contamination:

1. Increased Monitoring: We have intensified our water quality monitoring schedule, ensuring that any changes are promptly identified and addressed.
2. Wildlife Management: Efforts are being made to deter geese and other wildlife from congregating around the lake, including volunteer programs and physical deterrents. However, it is important to note that under the Migratory Bird Act, our ability to use deterrents is limited, and we must comply with federal legislation.
3. Community Education: Reinforcing guidelines on proper waste disposal, pet management, and other best practices to minimize contamination.

We are committed to fostering a vibrant and healthy community. Our mission emphasizes environmental stewardship, and we are actively working to ensure Lake Summerside’s long-term sustainability.

How You Can Help

Residents play a critical role in maintaining the water quality at Lake Summerside. Here are some actions you can take to help:

– Keep pets on a leash and clean up after them immediately.
– Avoid dumping waste into the lake, including pool and trailer water.

– Use designated public washrooms and dispose of garbage appropriately to avoid attracting wildlife.

– Refraining from using organic fertilizer or chemicals to treat lawns.

Looking Ahead

We are developing a long-term strategy to prevent similar issues in the future, which includes:

– Enhanced Environmental Practices: Implement sustainable practices for managing wildlife, water quality, and landscaping, and update our Lake Management Plan.
– Community Engagement: Encouraging residents to participate in environmental management and education programs.
– Infrastructure Improvements: Upgrading and maintaining amenities to support a healthy and safe environment.

As part of our commitment to transparency and community engagement, we would like to ask for your continued support, constructive communication, and patience as we address this issue. The SSRA’s recent community engagement survey has informed our strategic plan, which includes providing residents with more information to prevent the spread of false and misleading information. The Board of Directors and management staff are fully dedicated to resolving this issue and safeguarding your well-being.

Please see the attached Fact Sheet on Water Testing for more details on our water quality testing and safety measures. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the SSRA office.

Thank you for your understanding and support.