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Cleaning Your Dirty Bottom - Lake Bottom That Is

Event Date: September 24, 2003 - Sylvan Lake, AB

The day dawned as a perfect fall morning. Tourists were mostly gone, locals were out walking the trails. It was a quiet, lovely Sunday morning. Then came the Alberta Underwater Council (AUC), a host of scuba divers and the Aquatic Biosphere Project. Arriving en force, ready to tackle the unseen side, the dirty bottom of an otherwise idyllic lake.

While divers prepared themselves for the water, the Aquatic Biosphere folks snagged walkers and hangers-on to pick trash along the greenspaces and bushes of the lakeshore.

Between the two, a total of 58kg of trash was collected over the space of about two hours. Unfortunately the waves picked up, stirring the silt and making visibility poor underwater so the divers didn't collect as much as they could have. Nonetheless, the amount of trash was still, sadly, impressive.

The collection this year included glass bottles and cans, hockey pucks and golf balls, a metal skate blade nicely rusted, the expected fish hooks (many still barbed) and lines, chunks of burnt pallets from the ice fishing season loaded with long rusty nails, towels, swim masks, a cell phone, paddles, misc clothing, bracelets, hair ties, sunglasses, and general garbage. Here is the breakdown:

While everyone munched on a well earned BBQ lunch, talk fell to items pulled out this year compared to previous years, the oddities and the unidentified. The AUC, working with local Dive Clubs, coordinates a series of lake bottom clean-ups every year in lakes across the Province. This was the 20th year for Sylvan Lake and there are still two more clean-ups scheduled yet this fall.

If you are a diver and are interested to help, reach out to the Alberta Underwater Council at or phone 780-427-9155 during office hours.

If you are a landlubber and would like to help, contact the Aquatic Biosphere on how you can get on the clean-up volunteer list for upcoming events.

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