Resources and guidance is available to affiliated Alberta clubs or member groups who endeavour to operate an environmental project to enhance the underwater environment. Valid projects include lake and river clean-ups, dive site improvements or heritage interpretation. Most of the yearly AUC Dive Alberta Events (14-16 per year) include an underwater lake clean-up component in addition to some fun dives or are totally dedicated underwater lake cleanups in their own right, such as Banff or Quarry Lake (Canmore) Cleanups, Sylvan Lake Cleanup, and many, many more. Check out our annual DIVE ALBERTA Dive Event/Lake Cleanup Calendar for all the lake clean-ups around Alberta.
Sylvan Lake - An Example of Successful Lake Clean-Up
Sylvan Lake 17th Anniversary UW Lake Cleanup took place on Sept 22nd, 2020 with over only 8 scuba divers, 2 paddlers and over 20 shore support volunteers made a "splash for trash" in this annual lake cleanup effort - but small numbers due to COVID.
Together this team with support from the Alberta Underwater Council (AUC) plus local community, sponsors including Newalta, scuba divers, paddlers & shore support volunteers had the unique opportunity of removing unwanted trash, broken glass, beverage containers, lost or broken plastic water toys, discarded clothing, fishing line/hooks & other inappropriate signs of human activities in Alberta's beautifully sparkling, popular & busy Sylvan Lake.
Thanks to the assistance of all participants, in 2020 an additional 1/2 ton of garbage was removed. Volunteers drove from all over the province to gather here & keep Sylvan Lake sparkling and safe again for recreational use next season.
So far, a combined estimate of over 22 tons of garbage (and counting) has been removed by volunteers from the waters of the popular Sylvan Lake since 2003. With an estimated total of nearly 42 tons Alberta wide.
Awareness of environmental issues started to be enthusiastically embraced by many in Alberta's scuba community in the early 1960's and since then the AUC estimates about 80 tons (and counting) has been removed from Alberta's lakes & rivers by volunteer scuba divers. It's not "out of sight, out of mind" to an Alberta scuba diver who while underwater constantly sees trash as a reminder of the negative impact of irresponsible human activities in our underwater environment & the wildlife that live there. The Alberta Underwater Council is pleased to report that in 2019, nearly one ton was again removed by 30 divers, 6 paddlers, over 80 shore support volunteers from Sylvan Lake & nearby communities.
Additional lake cleanups both beach & underwater, also continue yearly across Alberta including our beautiful, world famous mountain park lakes (in Banff, Jasper & Waterton) in addition to Sylvan Lake. By participating in the cleanups, volunteer divers, shore support & paddlers experience an immensely satisfying & mission driven scuba diving, paddling and/or outdoor experience.
Our thanks to everyone who come out in & join with the AUC, to discover local diving, make a splash for trash, enjoy a paddle or just get "hooked" on participating during underwater & beach cleanups.
Thank you to Lake Clean-up Supporters:
Alberta's Dive Stores & AB Scuba Clubs & their volunteers
Local scuba instructors
Alberta paddling and canoe clubs
Guides, Boy Scouts, Beavers who provide much needed shore support and sponsorship
NAIT Students - Environmental Studies
Thank you to Lake Clean-up Sponsors:
Alberta Parks & Parks Canada's Conservation Officers
Town of Sylvan Lake
Tim Horton's Sylvan Lake
Rundle Mountain Lodge in Canmore
Pine Coulee Underwater Park - a disappointing outcome
It was with great teamwork from local scuba & community support, plus many volunteers' hours of hard physical labour that went into planning & building of the Pine Coulee U/W Park in early '00's. It was designed to be viable AUC underwater "scuba training" park for local instructors, stores, their students, dive clubs & all area divers to take advantage of and hopefully reduce some of the stress of scuba use at Lake Minnewanka in Banff & Waterton Lakes. Unfortunately, the final result was disappointing to all.
With kudos to Warren Robinson (a Calgary area dive instructor, AUC Lifetime Member) & the many volunteers supplying labour together with much needed support from many of Alberta's dive stores & clubs. Also to the Alberta Underwater Council's board volunteers for their perseverance in this organization's evolving & continued existence. The AUC, as one of the oldest provincial scuba association in Canada, there is & should be much pride in our past achievements (despite the hiccups along the way) - including Pine Coulee U/W Park Project.
History of the Pine Coulee Scuba UW Park Project in southern Alberta: first proposed in the late 1990's & then achieved in 2002-03 with support from the AUC. Funds came from the AUC with help from volunteers working AUC bingos, casino, raffles & other fundraisers, grants, etc.
Unfortunately, the AUC was forced to "give it back" for a "day use park" in 2005 when it turned out to be a great disappointment with extremely poor visibility, and it took over 5 years for the artifacts to submerge beneath surface of the reservoir.
This was not due to the fault of anyone involved. A long drought helped cause a very long wait for artifacts to be underwater & contributed to extreme algae growth. Plus there was surprising leakage of water thru unknown underground faults & outflows of this small reservoir (part of the Oldman Dam system). Those were the major causes for this disappointing outcome.
While the AUC's Pine Coulee U/W Park has been mired in over a decade of algae bloom & poor vis and couldn't be utilized as designed, thankfully AUC's Lake Minnewanka's Stairs at the Bridge Pilings & the Safety Marker Buoys around the Dam & Bridge Pilings dive sites continues to be helpful & successful and improves the safety of Alberta's scuba divers' accessing those sites. Unfortunately, 2013 came with some very challenging conditions due to this extreme flood year in southern Alberta!
If given the same opportunity in the future at another location in the province, re: to develop another planned & custom-built Underwater Scuba Park (like what Pine Coulee could & should have been), would the AUC do it again?
So the answer is hopefully, YES!
With all your continued support, the AUC will be here & continue to rally essential support needed for similar future projects from all interested supporters in the scuba community in Alberta.
Hopefully these kinds of opportunities will still come our way and we can continue to help make it happen (despite the inherent difficulties & poor Alberta lake conditions aside)! For more about dive safety in Alberta, clik here.
Location: Near Stavely/Claresholm, in southern Alberta. Click here for Pine Coulee U/W Map pdf
Click here for UW Video (generously shared by Ken Pon/Calgary area Instructor with Aqua Sports Scuba)http://vimeo.com/grizzlyvideos/pinecoulee
Pine Coulee - Conditions in late fall (2013): Submitted by Ken Pon
At this time of year, the gate for the parking lot is locked to prevent party groups from forming & abusing the park. You have to access the site from the lookout beside the gate (warden is aware of this) - unfortunate as it does create a short walk to the shore.
Hoping that what we are seeing now is the underwater visibility starting to clear up.
Also have a DM class that is producing a proper underwater map of the area. I have also arranged for navigation plaques to be engraved after the map is done so divers can find the objects with a compass bearing. Installation of these plaques at the navigation posts will be planned for future dives.