Wabamun Lake

Wabamun Lake

lake_name = Wabamun Lake
image_lake =
caption_lake =
image_bathymetry =
caption_bathymetry =
coords = coord|53|32|N|114|34|W|type:waterbody_region:CA-AB|display=inline,title
type =
location = Alberta
inflow =
outflow =
catchment = km2 to mi2|259|precision=0|abbr=yes
basin_countries = Canada
length = convert|19|km|mi|abbr=on
width = convert|7|km|mi|abbr=on
area = km2 to mi2|82|precision=0|abbr=yes
depth = ~m to ft|11|precision=0|abbr=yes
volume = convert|0.513|km3|cumi|abbr=on|lk=on
shore = km to mi|57.3|precision=1|abbr=yes
elevation = m to ft|727.4|precision=1|abbr=yes
islands =
cities = Wabamun, Seba Beach, Fallis

Wabamun Lake (sometimes spelled Wabumun) is one of the most heavily used lakes in Alberta, Canada. It lies km to mi|65|precision=0|spell=UK|wiki=yes west of Edmonton, Alberta. It is km to mi|19|precision=0|spell=UK| long and km to mi|7|precision=0|spell=UK| narrow, covers km2 to mi2|82 |precision=0|spell=UK|wiki=yes and is 6 to 11 metres (20–36 ft) deep, with clear blue water. [PDF| [http://www.wabamunresidents.com/_documents/lakemap.pdf ("see map")] |221 KB ]

Its name derives from the Cree word for mirror.

Wabamun was reputedly the best whitefish lake in the Edmonton area and is well known for its northern pike and walleye. A large variety of migrating, breeding and moulting wildfowl visit the lake because heat emitted by the power stations at Wabamun, Sundance and Keephills provides year-round open water. Beaver and muskrat use the lake while the surrounding upland supports coyotes, porcupine, moose and white-tailed deer. There are also reported sightings of cougars and wolves. Alberta Fish and Wildlife has confirmed that there have been wolf kills of cattle and sheep near Isle Lake (just North West of Wabamun Lake). Campgrounds, boat launches and marinas are scattered around the shore, including a provincial park with a beach.ref|AB-Wabamun There are numerous recreational cottages along its shores. Several communities line the north shore of the lake, the largest being the town of Wabamun. Rich coal deposits surrounding the lake have been mined by TransAlta for power plants it operates and that are cooled by lake water.


North of the lake are the villages of Wabamun and Fallis. Surrounding the Western edge is the Summer Village of Seba Beach and in the South West is South Seba Beach most of the southern edge is land owned by TransAlta Utilities and is uses primarily to mine coal for power generation. East of the lake is the Paul First Nation Reserve.


Development of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway greatly stimulated the local economy. Commercial fisheries used the railway to carry fish by box car to as far away as New York City. Seba Beach, a community at the lake's western edge, had a whitefish cannery, but this eventually shut down; the vacant building remains in the village. The railway urged summer tourists to visit from Edmonton. In winter, ice was cut to supply railway refrigeration cars. Coal was transported to a power generating plant in Edmonton, then later used for several power plants on the Wabamun Lake shore.

=Ecological da

Intensive exploitation of lake resources and habitat destruction resulted in marked decrease in fish production so that commercial operations were halted and recreational fishing is limited to catch and release. Years of construction activity on the lake's limited watershed has resulted in lowered water levels. Heavy metals (aluminium, chromium, arsenic, and copper) dissolved in the water as a result of coal burning were deemed to be at acceptable levels, but metals in sediment and mercury in larger pike were found to be excessive. TransAlta has responded with measures to reduce metal and thermal pollution and plans to decommission one of its power plants.

Oil spill

At 5:40 a.m. on August 3, 2005, 43 cars of a Canadian National (CN) freight train derailed near the summer village of Whitewood Sands, spilling up to 1.3 million litres (286,000 Imp gallons or 343,000 US gallons) of heavy bunker C fuel oil. An estimated 734,000 litres (161,500 Imp gal/194,000 US gal) of the thick, dark material was spread by high winds across km to mi|8|precision=0|spell=UK| of the surface of Wabamun Lake. [http://www.wabamunresidents.com/_documents/wabamunoilspillmapasofaug10.pdf ("see map")]

Volunteers soon began placing booms and absorbent material to protect the shoreline, and brought 230 oil-slicked birds and other wildlife to the Wabamun area for rescue.

One hundred Wabamun Lake residents took part in a five-hour blockade of the CN tracks in protest against what they felt was insufficient action by the railway in cleaning up the spill. The province of Alberta then issued an environmental protection order to ensure that the cleanup proceed.

It was not until four days after the derailment that CN revealed that a "hazardous chemical" had spilled into the lake in addition to the bunker C fuel oil. Residents were told to stop cleaning wildlife and to completely avoid all lake water and well water, even for watering gardens and lawns. The 700,000 litres (154,000 Imp gal/185,000 US gal) of Imperial Pole Treating Oil that had escaped from a ruptured, derailed tank car contained naphthalene and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons listed as "highly toxic" and suspected of being carcinogens.

Further outrage and condemnation have come against CN for not informing the community earlier of the hazard before many people, including children, were avoidably exposed. The provincial government is weighing demands that it institute criminal charges against CN officers for the delay.

CN released a statement on October 18, 2005, that estimates the railroad's financial obligation for cleanup from the spill to cost an estimated $28 million, with remaining costs covered by insurance.ref|CBC-20051019

In the spring of 2006 after the ice melted off the lake additional clean up operations had to begin as tar balls began to surface.

As of June 5, 2006, CN faces environmental charges for ineffective management of the spill.


* [http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2005/08/06/lake-spill050806.html CBC News: Province orders cleanup of Alberta oil spill]
* [http://www.host1.exxonmobil.com/psims/psims.aspx?brand=iol Imperial Pole Treating Oil datasheet]
* [http://www.wabamunwatch.com Wabamun Watch]
* [http://www.donmeredith.ca/outdoorsmen/Wabamun.html "Fixing Wabamun Lake"]
* [http://www.edmontonsun.com/News/Canada/2006/04/14/1534180-sun.html "Lake coughs up tar balls"]
* [http://www.cbc.ca/cp/business/060605/b060594.html CN Rail faces environmental charge in Wabamun Lake oil spill west of Edmonton]


# Government of Alberta, " [http://www.cd.gov.ab.ca/enjoying_alberta/parks/planning/gateway/siteinformation.asp?id=154 Wabamun Lake Provincial Park] ".
# Swift, Allan; CBC Business News (October 19 2005), " [http://www.cbc.ca/cp/business/051018/b101886.html Canadian National Railway Q3 profit up 19 per cent to record $411M] ". Retrieved October 19 2005.

External links

* [http://cn.ca/about/community/wabamun/en_wabamun.shtml CN: Wabamun Lake derailment information] - includes daily status updates from CN on the cleanup and mitigation efforts.

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