The lake weeds multiply when they break up, float around, and then establish new colonies. A new plant can start from a tiny piece of an existing one. The most common form of weed in Chestermere Lake is the Northern Milfoil.
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The City owns three lake weed harvesters and a barge which normally operate from July 1 – Aug 31 each year. The harvesters cut and remove lake weeds and other debris to ensure that Chestermere Lake remains safe for recreational and boating activities, and reduces clogging of the WID irrigation system. These mechanical devices are the best means to control the weeds as compared to using chemical or hand harvesting alternatives.
The harvester operators follow a set schedule based on the historical prevalence and location of weeds. Although they typically adhere to a regular “route”, picking up where they left off the day before, this route may vary depending on operator discretion. They also focus on floating weed masses caused by boat propellers or that come in from the Canal, and thirdly, on known dense areas of weeds.
The harvesters can only mechanically reach weeds down to a depth of 2 m. This means that the weeds still grow on the lake bottom. As such, this program controls weed growth during the season but does not reduce or prevent them from growing
The lake weeds are hauled by truck to the City’s Public Works Yard. The weeds are deposited, screened of debris, turned regularly for several months, and mixed with other soil to create good compost material. This compost is now available to residents free of charge, and is also used in City parks.
Every summer, the lakefront owners help out by collecting floating weeds and hand harvesting weeds on and around their shoreline. This task involves putting the weeds into recycling bins, to be picked up weekly by CUI. This collaboration ensures that Chestermere Lake continues to be a key recreational amenity for everyone to enjoy.
On average, summers students spend about 2,040 hours in total on the harvesting program. This results in about 150 trailer loads, ultimately being converted into compost material.