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LICA Doing Research on Jessie Lake’s Smell

The Lakeland Industry and Community Association (LICA) has taken its portable air monitoring system out by Jessie Lake and their results have confirmed what Bonnyvillers have known for decades. It smells bad at the beginning of summer. Really, really, really bad.

However, that’s only step one.

While tests are still preliminary at this point, LICA’s equipment was able to pinpoint high amounts of Hydrogen Sulphide in the air as the source for that distinct “thousand outhouses at the end of a music festival” smell. These amounts were well above  provincial air quality objectives.

“We’ll also be collecting some other samples to identify any other potential smelly compounds,” says Monitoring Programs Manager for LICA Michael Eisaga. “But right now we’re finding its hydrogen sulphide which typically has a rotten egg odor.”

It should also be noted that while the air is smelly around Jessie Lake, it is in no way bad for your health.

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“The concentrations we’ve measured so far are at a level where they’re considered a nuisance, not a health issue.” says Eisaga.

Anecdotes of Jessie Lake being used as a sewage lagoon many decades ago are the reason often given for its stink. While it’s too early to rule anything out, Eisaga says there’s plenty of evidence to support that the lake just naturally smells that bad on its own.

“It’s a fairly large lake but it doesn’t have a whole lot of depth to it,” he says. “So there’s vegetation in the lake that’s sitting on the bottom that decays and breaks down. One of the products of that decay is hydrogen sulphide. It is a naturally occurring process that’s producing this H2S, it’s not considered human caused.” Eisaga says the sewage lagoon aspect certainly wouldn’t help the situation, it was also a very long time ago.

There is some very good news from all of this. LICA is hoping to team up with local partners to see what they can do about minimizing Jessie Lake’s presence in the noses of Bonnyvillers. Eisaga says its far too early to say what those methods might end up looking like, but he says there are ways to reduce the smell of shallow lakes with a lot of dead plants at the bottom.

In the meanwhile, the group is moving their equipment to the south of the lake to collect more samples and data.

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