Spring Lake

Basic Info
Map Sheets83G/9
Lat / Long53.5166667, -114.1333333
53°31'N, 114°7'W
Area0.80 km2
Max depth9.1 m
Mean depth1.9 m
Dr. Basin Area12.5 km2
Dam, WeirNone
Drainage BasinNorth Saskatchewan River Basin
Camp GroundPresent
Boat LaunchPresent
Sport FishYellow Perch, Rainbow Trout
Trophic StatusMesotrophic
TP x21 µg/L
CHLORO x8.0 µg/L
TDS x360 mg/L
Photo credit: unknown


Spring Lake is a small, picturesque lake located 28 km west of the city of Edmonton in the County of Parkland. Because of the lake's close proximity to Edmonton and the town of Stony Plain, which is the closest population centre, the lake is popular with cottagers, resort patrons and day-users, and it receives moderate to heavy recreational use during summer. To reach the lake, exit Highway 16 at the turnoff for the summer village of Edmonton Beach, about 6 km west of Stony Plain. Continue west for another 2.5 km, turn south and drive 3 km to Edmonton Beach Resort (FIGURE 1). Permission for walk-in public access to the lakeshore for fishing can be obtained at the resort, but free public facilities are not provided.

The area surrounding Spring Lake was homesteaded in 1894. In the early 1900s, the lake became popular among residents of Edmonton and the surrounding areas, and small acreage and cottage lots were sold; Edmonton Beach was established by cottagers and was incorporated as a summer village in 1959 (Stony Plain Dist. Hist. Soc. 1982).

In 1894, Spring Lake was called Schimpf's Lake. In the years that followed, the name was changed several times as ownership of the surrounding land changed; the lake has been called McCoppen's, Cottage and Barrie's lake (Stony Plain Dist. Hist. Soc. 1982). In the 1940s, the lake level began to decline. Underground springs were thought to feed the lake and attempts to find and clear the springs with dynamite prompted a final name change, to Spring Lake. The lake itself is also referred to as Edmonton Beach.

Edmonton Beach Resort is a commercially operated facility located on the southeast corner of the lakeshore (FIGURE 2). Popular activities include swimming, hiking and fishing. The resort provides 336 campsites, a beach, a boat launch, boat rentals, a playground, a sewage disposal station and tap water (Alta. Hotel Assoc. 1989). Power-driven vessels are permitted on the lake, but are restricted to maximum speeds of 12 km/hour (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1988).

Spring Lake is shallow and moderately productive. Algal biomass is low and the water is fairly clear, but aquatic vegetation flourishes in shallow areas. The lake is stocked annually with rainbow trout and the sport fishery is popular, particularly with members of the Edmonton Trout Club, who have been fishing at Spring Lake for 30 years. Fishing for bait fish and the use of bait fish is prohibited (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1989).

Drainage Basin Characteristics

The drainage basin is approximately 16 times larger than the lake surface (Tables 1, 2). There are no defined permanent inlets to, or outlets from, the lake (Miller and Macdonald 1950). Historically, inflow came from an intermittent tributary that drained a series of small sloughs in the northwest section of the drainage basin.

The undulating to gently rolling terrain was formed on a pitted delta; surficial deposits include sand, silt and sand, clay, gravel, glacial till pockets and stones (Andriashek et al. 1979). The main soils are Orthic Gray Luvisols (Strong and Leggat 1981).

Spring Lake is part of the Moist Mixedwood Subregion of the Boreal Mixedwood Ecoregion (Strong and Leggat 1981). The predominant land use within the watershed is agriculture. Most land is cultivated for cereal crop production, but some areas are reserved for pasture. Areas of natural, undeveloped forest are present throughout the drainage basin (FIGURE 1). The dominant tree cover is trembling aspen and balsam poplar, with occasional stands of white spruce. Around the lake perimeter, the forest is mainly on the western shore, at the Edmonton Beach Resort and along a thin strip on the eastern shore. Closer to the water's edge, on imperfectly to poorly drained sites, stands of willow and alder are prevalent (R.L. & L. Envir. Serv. Ltd. 1987).

The summer village of Edmonton Beach completely surrounds Spring Lake and all of the shoreland is privately owned (FIGURE 2). Cottage development is most intensive along the eastern side of the lake, but the southern and western shores are also developed. There is considerable residential development, particularly acreages, to the west and east of the lake (FIGURE 1) - seven subdivisions, as well as the summer village, are registered in the watershed (R. L. & L. Envir. Serv. Ltd. 1987).

Lake Basin Characteristics

Spring Lake is 2.4-km long and 2.2-km wide; a large island is located in the eastern half of the lake and a shallow sill separates the southwestern bay from the rest of the lake (FIGURE 2). The lake has a very irregular bottom; much of it is less than 1.5-m deep, but five holes exceed 6 m in depth. The maximum depth is 9.1 m, but because of the extensive littoral zone, the mean depth is less than 2 m (TABLE 2). An irregular shoreline, the large island, and the extensive tree growth around much of the lakeshore provide protection from wind.

Water levels were recorded in 1937 and from 1939 to 1944, and have been monitored regularly since 1956 (FIGURE 3). Since 1939, the lake level has fluctuated between a high of 726.36 m, recorded in 1939, and a low of 722.99 m, recorded in 1968. During years of high water levels, cottages were located adjacent to the water's edge. As the lake's elevation declined, however, a wide buffer strip of grasses formed between the cottages and the water's edge, particularly along the northern and eastern shores. As well, two peninsulas were exposed along the south side of the lake (FIGURE 1). Since the 1960s, however, the lake level has remained fairly stable (FIGURE 3). Preliminary data collected in 1986 suggested that groundwater inflow to Spring Lake was 0.6 to 6.2 x 10-8 m/second (Shaw and Prepas 1989). Groundwater appears to be an important contribution of inflow to the lake. Changes in the lake's area and capacity with fluctuations in the water level (up to an elevation of 723.75 m) are illustrated in Figure 4.

Water Quality

The water quality of Spring Lake was studied during the open-water period in 1983 (Alta. Envir. n.d.[a]) and 1986 (R.L. & L. Envir. Serv. Ltd. 1987) and under ice in January 1984 (Alta. Envir. n.d.[a]). As well, winter dissolved oxygen concentrations were studied by Fish and Wildlife Division for 21 years between 1956 and 1985 (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d., summarized in R.L. & L. Envir. Serv. Ltd. 1987).

The lake is well-buffered and the dominant ions are bicarbonate, magnesium and sulphate (TABLE 3). The water is usually clear; the low turbidity and Secchi depths to 6 m indicate that the euphotic zone often extends to the bottom of the lake, except in the deepest areas (TABLE 4).

The deepest part of Spring Lake was thermally stratified from early June until early September in 1983 (FIGURE 5). During this period, the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the deeper water decreased to less than 1 mg/L (FIGURE 6). From June to August in 1986, water over the sediments in this deep area was anoxic. The lake mixes thoroughly in the fall and the water column becomes well-oxygenated, as in September 1983 (FIGURE 6). During most winters, the deeper water is anoxic by March, and dissolved oxygen concentrations throughout the rest of the water column are low.

Spring Lake is classified as mesotrophic. In 1983, the highest concentrations of chlorophyll a were detected in May and October (FIGURE 7). Phosphorus and chlorophyll concentrations likely show unusually rapid changes with depth in the euphotic zone of Spring Lake, and thus more detailed data are required to interpret seasonal patterns.

Biological Characteristics


The phytoplankton in Spring Lake was sampled monthly during 1983 by Alberta Environment (TABLE 5). The total biomass was low throughout the sampling period, ranging from a low of 0.25 mg/L to a high of 2.48 mg/L. The dominant or codominant group throughout the sampling period was Cryptophyta, generally Cryptomonas erosa, C. ovata and Rhodomonas minuta. Species of blue-green algae (Cyanophyta) were not an important part of the biomass except in mid-June, when Oscillatoria agardhii was the dominant species. Green algae (Chlorophyta) were important only in mid-June (Sphaerocystis schroeteri) and early November (Mougeotia sp.) and diatoms (Bacillariophyta) accounted for a large part of the biomass only in late September (Asterionella formosa) and early November (A. formosa, Gomphonema sphaerophorum and G. truncatum). Golden-brown algae (Chrysophyta), particularly Uroglena americana and Dinobryon divergens, were prevalent in May, July and November and Pyrrhophyta (Ceratium hirundinella and Peridinium cinctum) were prominent in July and September.

Macrophytes were abundant throughout the shallow inshore areas of Spring Lake during a survey conducted by R.L. & L. Environmental Services Ltd. on 6 September 1986 (FIGURE 8). The dominant emergent plants were cattail (Typha latifolia) and bulrush (Scirpus validus), interspersed with occasional patches of sedges (Carex spp.), reed grass (Phragmites communis) and arrowhead (Sagittaria cuneata). The deeper littoral areas supported thick mats of stonewort (Chara spp.), a submergent species, which extended in places, 30 m out from shore. Two other submergent plants, northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum exalbescens) and Sago pondweed (Potamogeton pectinatus) were less dense and distributed sparsely throughout the lake.


A brief survey of the invertebrate population in Spring Lake was conducted in 1949 (Miller and Macdonald 1950). No recent data are available.


Four species of fish are present in Spring Lake: fathead minnow, brook stickleback, yellow perch and rainbow trout. Fathead minnow and brook stickleback are indigenous. Arctic grayling were planted in 1954, but the stock was depleted by 1958 and the species is no longer present (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.).

Spring Lake is managed as a sport fishery only. There is no commercial or domestic fishery. Yellow perch were first stocked in the early 1950s; initially, the population expanded but was stunted. Since the 1950s, however, periodic partial winterkills reduced the size of the population and thus alleviated stunting. The population maintains itself by natural reproduction and supports a good fishery. Perch growth appears to be comparable to that in other Alberta lakes (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.; R.L. & L. Envir. Serv. Ltd. 1987).

Rainbow trout have been planted annually in the lake since 1953 (except for 1957). In 1960, test nets caught five rainbow trout; their growth was described as below average for a pothole lake (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.). The rainbow trout population is severely limited, perhaps because of low dissolved oxygen concentrations or competition for food between the trout fingerlings and yellow perch. The present management policy is to stock a small number of relatively large rainbow trout on an annual basis; between 1965 and 1986, an average of 8,900 trout were planted, ranging in size from 6 to 15 cm (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.; 1987; R.L. & L. Envir. Serv. Ltd. 1987). Since 1980, fish greater than 10 cm in length have been planted, which ensures that fish of catchable size are immediately available and further reduces losses from winterkill. The low stocking rate, when compared to other Alberta lakes, is appropriate since the lake is vulnerable to winterkills and has limited public access.


Detailed data are not available for the wildlife population at Spring Lake; however, beaver lodges have been seen on the lake (R.L. & L. Envir. Serv. Ltd. 1987).

L.G. McIntyre


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----. n.d.[b]. Tech. Serv. Div., Hydrol. Br. Unpubl. data, Edmonton.

----. n.d.[c]. Tech. Serv. Div., Surv. Br. Unpubl. data, Edmonton.

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Miller, R.B. and W.H. Macdonald. 1950. Preliminary biological surveys of Alberta watersheds, 1947-1949. Alta. Ld. For., Fish Wild. Div., Edmonton.

R.L. & L. Environmental Services Ltd. 1987. County of Parkland fisheries inventory: Spring Lake. Prep. for Alta. Fish Wild. Div. and Alta. Rec. Parks and Wild. Foundation, Edmonton.

Shaw, R.D. and E.E. Prepas. 1989. Groundwater-lake interactions: II. Nearshore seepage patterns and the contribution of groundwater to lakes in central Alberta. J. Hydrol. [in press]

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Strong, W.L. and K.R. Leggat. 1981. Ecoregions of Alberta. Alta. En. Nat. Resour., Resour. Eval. Plan. Div., Edmonton.