Many visitors to Whonnock Lake enjoy watching the wildlife that occupies the east Maple Ridge park.
Typically, that includes beaver, muskrats, large tadpoles, endless rainbow trout (since it’s restocked annuals), plus loons, mallard ducks, and – of course – Canadian geese.
It’s that latter that are seen as both a menace and a blessing in the park, since the defecate throughout the park, including in the water.
Especially during COVID, this rural city-run park and the bogland lake have proven incredibly popular for local and area residents wanting to swim, paddle, or hike.
And recently, a lot of park visitors have been excited to see a number of cute young goslings – under the watchful eye of their parents – swimming in the lake and wandering through the sandy beaches and grassy picnic areas that make Whonnock Lake such a draw during spring and summer.
But with the larger fowl does come a potential health issue, as present in recent past years.
Two year ago, Whonnock Lake beach had to be closed for a time, in part likely due to geese.
The City of Maple Ridge had to close the lake because of high levels of e-coli bacteria detected in the water.
With no sewage flows into the lake, the causes of contamination can include algae blooms, geese or pet waste, or possibly, runoff of contaminated water into the lake following a heavy rain. Geese feces was believed to be the primary culprit in this case.
It was also an issue in summer 2018, at that time city staff explained that they sample the water weekly, both from Whonnock Lake and from Davison Pool in the South Alouette River and sends them to Fraser Health for analysis.
Regular water samples are collected from several lakes in the Fraser Health region during the spring and summer months, to monitor the bacteriological quality of the water to determine whether or not a beach is in compliance with the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality.
But this Maple Ridge lake is not normally among them. Similarly, Fraser Health also oversees testing for Davison Pool, which is also a popular swimming hole, but it is not regularly tested either.
Whonnock Lake Park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and is a popular destination for canoeing, paddle boarding, swimming, fishing, picnics, barbeques, and wildlife viewing.
– with News files
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