Salmon Arm’s McGuire Lake (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

No mystery to Salmon Arm lake but busy underlife

What’s been called the ‘Little Lake’ plays important role for the city

McGuire Lake may not be bottomless, but there’s definitely more going on beneath the surface than meets the eye.

A recent Observer article outlined a Vancouver resident’s query about the depth of the lake, which turned out to be 3.7 metres or 12 feet at its deepest, not bottomless as has been rumoured.

However, a follow-up with city staff reveals what many people have talked about – that there’s a connection between little McGuire Lake, sitting close to Salmon Arm’s downtown, and big Shuswap Lake below.

The man-made factor is that the lake is hooked up to the city’s storm sewer system. However, rarely do the flows out of McGuire Lake have to be adjusted by human hands. Instead, says the city’s Rob Niewenhuizen, a lot of water seeps into the ground and takes unknown routes to Shuswap Lake.

“Even during major storms, with drainage from Turner Creek and inflow from the highway, we don’t have to adjust the gates,” he says, so the water is leaving the lake through the soil. “I imagine that the majority of the water that flows into McGuire Lake is migrating through the soil as groundwater.”

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The man-made outlet begins with a manhole that sits on the west side of the lake. The water has to rise to a certain level in the manhole; when high enough it goes over the top where there’s a weir and then pipes.

The grate stops debris and fish from ending up in them. Although it’s not 100 per cent full proof, Niewenhuizen says the pressure isn’t such that fish are sucked towards the pipes.

He thinks it’s a rare fish who would get through.

“I would suspect fish, even when it’s raining or Turner Creek is overflowing, wouldn’t… If you have an adventurous little fish, maybe a Nemo, it might.”

Water is piped down Hudson and splits into a couple of different systems: one of the outlets is by the Prestige hotel and the other at the edge of the pond by the boat launch.

As for the secret life of groundwater and its routes, “it is so unknown to everyone,” says Niewenhuizen, pointing out that in lots of places along the lakeshore, the banks weep water.

Overall, along with the beauty of its flora and fauna, McGuire Lake plays an important role in filtering runoff as well as in flood control, Niewenhuizen says.

“It’s a very unique system there, it benefits the city quite well.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

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