Wizard Lake

Basic Info
Map Sheets83H/4
Lat / Long53.1166667, -113.9166667
53°7'N, 113°55'W
Area2.48 km2
Max depth11 m
Mean depth6.2 m
Dr. Basin Area29.8 km2
Dam, WeirNone
Drainage BasinNorth Saskatchewan River Basin
Camp GroundPresent
Boat LaunchPresent
Sport FishYellow Perch, Northen Pike
Trophic StatusEutrophic
TP x45 µg/L
CHLORO x16.3 µg/L
TDS x208 mg/L
Photo credit: unknown


Wizard Lake is a long, serpentine lake lying in a heavily forested, deep glacial meltwater channel 50 km southwest of the city of Edmonton. The valley provides excellent shelter from winds, making this lake very popular for water skiing. To reach Wizard Lake from Edmonton, take Highway 2 south to the city of Leduc, turn west onto Highway 39 and drive for 16 km to the town of Calmar, then take Secondary Road 795 south for 17 km to the turnoff for the east end of the lake (FIGURE 1). The northern shore of the lake is in the County of Leduc and the southern shore is in the County of Wetaskiwin.

The Indian name for this lake meant "Lizard Lake" (Alta. Cult. Multicult. n.d.). Until the late 1960s the popular name for the lake was Conjuring Lake (Alta. Cult. Multicult. n.d.). Indian legends said strange noises in the lake came from "conjuring creatures" (Stout 1956). The creek draining the lake is still called Conjuring Creek. Homesteaders began to arrive in 1904 and a sawmill opened near the lake in the same year, only to close in 1905 when the railway was not built across the area as expected (Stout 1956). An underground coal mine operated on the south shore until the 1940s; the two mine entrances still exist (Riddett 1988). Land was set aside on the north shore for a park in the 1920s; it has now been developed by the County of Leduc as Wizard Lake Jubilee Park.

There are 61 cottages on the south shore at the east end of the lake, 56 lots in a subdivision above the valley and 24 acreages in an area at the west end (Riddett 1988). In 1988, none of the acreages had been developed. On the north shore, there are 110 developed cottage lots fronting on the lakeshore just west of Wizard Lake Jubilee Park (Pinkowski 1989).

Public access to the lake is best at Wizard Lake Jubilee Park (FIGURE 2). Facilities include a summer campground with 114 sites, tap water, a sewage disposal station, a public telephone, a beach, a playground and a boat launch. A small grocery store and concession also operate at the park.

Intensive use of the lake, especially on summer weekends, led to conflict between water skiers, high-speed power boat operators, canoeists and anglers. In 1977, the Wizard Lake area became subject to the Regulated Lake Shoreland Development Operation Regulations, which were administered by Alberta Environment. The regulations prohibited most developments at the lake until a lake management plan and an area structure plan were prepared and adopted by the counties of Leduc and Wetaskiwin. A lake management plan was prepared by 1979, which included a summary of regulations and policies (Edm. and Battle R. Reg. Plan. Commis. 1979[a]; 1979[b]; 1980). One of the recommendations in the plan was to divide the lake into two zones. The boat speed in the west half of the lake was to be limited to 12 km/hour to facilitate access by anglers, yet minimize conflict with canoeists and wildlife. The boat speed in the east half was to be limited to 65 km/hour to allow water skiing, yet minimize excessively fast power boat activities that might endanger other users. These recommendations had not been implemented as of 1988, but there are posted areas on the lake where power boats are prohibited or restricted to 12 km/hour (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1988).

Fishing for yellow perch and northern pike is popular at Wizard Lake, as are water skiing, canoeing, sailing, SCUBA diving and observing wildlife. Provincial limits for the number and size of fish caught apply to the sport fishery but there are no regulations specific to Wizard Lake (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1989). The water is fairly clear in spring and early summer but blue-green algal blooms turn the water green by midsummer.

Drainage Basin Characteristics

The drainage basin of Wizard Lake lies mostly on an undulating glacial till plain. The Wizard Lake Valley was formed in several stages. Prior to glaciation, a channel was cut in the bedrock (Edm. and Battle R. Reg. Plan. Commis. 1979[a]). Next, glaciation deposited till over the area and meltwater from the retreating glacial ice sheet flowed southeastward, following the old channel, eroding the till and leaving the contemporary 30-m deep valley (Twardy et al. 1979). Hills rise to an elevation of 846 m on the southern edge of the drainage basin and to 823 m on the northern edge (En. Mines Resour. Can. 1974).

The bedrock is composed of sandstone, mudstone and siltstone (TABLE 1) with thin limestone, coal and tuff beds in some areas. Highly weathered beds of these formations can be found at shallow depths (1 to 2 m) below the soil surface and as outcrops on the valley slopes (Twardy et al. 1979).

The eastern half of the drainage basin is in the Aspen Parkland Ecoregion, whereas the western half is in the Moist Mixedwood Subregion of the Boreal Mixedwood Ecoregion (Strong and Leggat 1981). The natural vegetation near the lake is typical of both these regions; trembling aspen is dominant and paper birch, white spruce, willow and balsam poplar grow in wetter areas or on north-facing slopes. The difference between the ecoregions is seen in the occurrence of fescue grassland, which is found in dry areas of the Aspen Parkland but not in the Boreal Mixedwood. Before settlement, areas of natural grassland likely occurred at the east end of the Wizard Lake drainage basin, but these areas have since been cultivated. Another difference between the ecoregions is apparent in the soils. The eastern portion is underlain by Chernozemic soils, which form under grasslands; the western portion is underlain by Dark Gray Chernozemics grading to Dark Gray Luvisols, soils which typically form under aspen forests (Bowser et al. 1962; Twardy et al. 1979).

About 7% of the drainage basin is composed of low lying fens and bogs, the former being more common. Fens, such as the area extending northwest from the lake, are generally wet, accumulate sedge peat and have a cover or border of willow, sedges and slough grass; they are underlain by Gleysolic soils. Bogs have an accumulation of moss peat and are covered or bordered by black spruce, tamarack, Labrador tea and mosses; soils in bogs are Humic Mesisols. In the Wizard Lake basin, peat accumulations of up to 4-m deep have been found (Twardy et al. 1979).

The valley of the lake is still forested, but some of the surrounding plain has been cleared for cereal crop production and mixed farming (FIGURE 1). Approximately 65% of the basin is forest or bush, 25% is cleared for agriculture, 7% is lake or sloughs and 3% is cleared for urban development. Several subdivisions, loacated on the eastern portion of the lakeshore and on the upland area, have been developed in the last 20 years. There are several oil and gas wells in the basin. There is no Crown land on the shore of Wizard Lake.

Water enters Wizard Lake via two intermittent creeks on the south shore (FIGURE 1) or as indirect runoff. The lake is drained by Conjuring Creek which flows north to join the North Saskatchewan River north of the village of Calmar.

Lake Basin Characteristics

Wizard Lake is 11.5-km long; it stretches 8 km from the east end to the narrow neck, then another 3.5 km along the neck and the shallow northwest bay. The maximum width of the lake is 0.55 km. The lake has a simple basin with sides that slope steeply to a maximum depth of 11 m (TABLE 2; FIGURE 2). The ends are more gently sloping, especially at the northwest end near the shallow neck. The littoral zone extends to approximately 4.1 m (Chambers and Prepas 1985) and approximately 33% of the lake is shallower than this depth (FIGURE 3).

The lake level is fairly variable; it ranged over 0.9 m, from a low in 1968 to a high in 1981 (FIGURE 4). Annual fluctuations of 0.5 m commonly occurred through the 1970s, but since 1982, levels have been more stable, with annual fluctuations of about 0.25 m. The mean residence time of water in the lake is approximately 14 years (Alta. Envir. n.d.[b]). In 1988, the counties of Leduc and Wetaskiwin were investigating the feasibility of stabilizing the level of Wizard Lake (Alta. Envir. n.d.[d]).

Water Quality

Wizard lake was monitored for water quality in 1978 and 1979 by Alberta Environment (Alta. Envir. n.d.[a]). From 1981 through 1983 it was monitored by the University of Alberta and in 1984 it was intensively studied by the University of Alberta as part of a project to examine the dynamics of phosphorus in moderately productive, shallow lakes (Prepas n.d.; 1983[a]; 1983[b]; Prepas and Trew 1983; Babin 1984; Prepas and Vickery 1984; Babin and Prepas 1985; Prepas and Shaw 1985).

Wizard Lake is a well-buffered freshwater lake. The dominant ions are sodium, calcium and bicarbonate (TABLE 3). The lake is shallow and, despite the protection given by its high valley walls, the water frequently mixes vertically throughout the summer. In 1984, mixing periods occurred from 29 May to 5 June, from 25 June to 9 July, from 16 to 23 July, and from 7 to 20 August (FIGURE 5, 6). Although the lake was only weakly and infrequently stratified, dissolved oxygen depletion progressed in the deeper water and the water near the bottom became anoxic in August 1984. Four stations that are shallower than the one shown in Figure 6 (8.5-, 8.0-, 7.5- and 5.5-m depths) were also monitored weekly through the summer of 1984. Anoxic conditions developed by early August near the bottom of the deeper three of these sites. Total anoxia was not observed at the 5.5-m deep station, but the dissolved oxygen concentration dropped to 0.1 mg/L by 13 August.

In the winter of 1982/83, dissolved oxygen concentrations decreased continuously at a rate of 0.533 g/m2 per day (Babin and Prepas 1985). This relatively high rate reflects the high productivity in this lake. By late February 1983, dissolved oxygen concentrations were very low throughout the water column at the deep station, with no dissolved oxygen in the lowest 0.5 m and only 3.0 mg/L near the surface (FIGURE 6). Fish survival may be compromised at these concentrations but no fish kills have been recorded in Wizard Lake (Watters 1989).

The dissolved oxygen profiles from the deepest part of a lake may not be representative of oxygen concentrations throughout the lake. Oxygen profiles were taken at six sites in Wizard Lake on 7 March 1983 (Babin and Prepas 1985). The dissolved oxygen concentrations were higher at all levels a four of the shallower stations (8-, 6-, 5- and 2-m depths) compared to the concentrations measured at the deepest site (11 m). The estimated average dissolved oxygen concentration was 47% higher when data from all 6 stations were used, rather than data from only the deepest station.

Under ice chlorophyll a profiles in Wizard Lake were taken 7 times between 26 November 1982 and 22 March 1983 (Babin 1984). Concentrations were greatest near the surface and were highest on 26 November (9.2 µg/L). They decreased throughout the winter to 17 February (1.9 µg/L), then rose until 22 March (7.6 µg/L).

Wizard Lake is nutrient-rich (TABLE 4) and a dense blue-green algal bloom usually forms after midsummer. This lake is classified as eutrophic. The major nutrient that controls the amount of algae in lakes in Alberta is usually phosphorus (Prepas and Trew 1983; Prepas 1983[b]); Figure 7 illustrates that the concentration of total phosphorus in the euphotic zone and chlorophyll a are closely correlated during summer.

Phosphorus enters lakes from several external sources (TABLE 5). In the Wizard Lake basin, runoff is the major contributor with 1 ha of agricultural land contributing about 5 times as much phosphorus as 1 ha of forest, and 1 ha of urban land delivering 10 times as much as forest. Sloughs act as phosphorus traps; if the slough at the northwest end of the lake were dry, the phosphorus contribution from that area of the watershed would be more than 4 times the 52 kg listed in TABLE 5. Rainfall and dustfall directly on the lake are significant contributors; sewage from cottages and camps is a minor contribution (Alta. Envir. n.d.[a]).

That prairie lakes have an important internal source of phosphorus has been recognized for the last decade. In Wizard Lake, like most shallow, productive prairie lakes, total phosphorus concentrations increase throughout the summer to peak in late August (FIGURE 7). This phosphorus increase comes from sources within the lake itself; the phosphorus stored in the bottom sediment is released to the overlying water and then mixed into the surface waters where it is used by algae.

Five sites in Wizard Lake were studied intensively in 1984 to determine the rate at which phosphorus was released from the sediments under shallow and deep water. Phosphorus concentrations became very high (900 µg/L) in the anoxic water over the bottom sediments at the deepest site (FIGURE 8). A similar general pattern was apparent at the shallower stations, but the phosphorus concentration rarely exceeded 300 µg/L. The rate of phosphorus release from the sediment was calculated to be 27.2 mg/m2 per day at the deep site. The average rate for the whole lake was estimated to be 8.4 mg/m2 per day. At this rate, 2,133 kg of phosphorus entered the lake water from the sediment in the June through August period - an amount more than double all external inputs combined (TABLE 5). Also, in the winter, phosphorus moves from the sediment into the overlying water. On 22 March 1983, the concentration of total phosphorus was 147 µg/L in the water near the bottom, but only 30.4 µg/L just under the ice. Approximately 60% of the total phosphorus was dissolved.

The good correlation between phosphorus and chlorophyll a concentrations in Figure 7 suggests that phosphorus released from the sediment is almost all available for use by algae. These observations were confirmed by experiments with labelled phosphorus (Prepas and Shaw 1985).

Biological Characteristics


Phytoplankton was sampled in Wizard Lake by Alberta Environment monthly from 12 February to 25 September 1979 (Beliveau and Furnell 1980) and on 18 July 1983 (Alta. Envir. n.d.[a]). In 1979, the volume of algae peaked in late August (80% Cyanophyta), with a lower peak in late September (45% Bacillariophyta, 34% Cyanophyta). In July 1983, 49% of the phytoplankton biomass was blue-greens (Cyanophyta: primarily Aphanizomenon flos-aquae), 19% was diatoms (Bacillariophyta: primarily Melosira granulata), 10% was Cryptophyta (primarily Cryptomonas rostratiformis) and the remainder was fairly equally divided among the green algae (Chlorophyta), golden-brown algae (Chrysophyta) and Pyrrhophyta. High total phosphorus concentrations and low dissolved oxygen concentrations over the bottom sediments are responsible for the preponderance of blue-green algae in summer in Wizard Lake (Trimbee and Prepas 1987; 1988).

Aquatic macrophytes were surveyed in detail during August 1979 (FIGURE 9). The ends of the lake support the densest growth, with emergent beds of bulrushes (Scirpus spp.), common cattails (Typha latifolia) and sedges (Carex spp.), patches of yellow water lily (Nuphar variegatum), and submergent beds composed of pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.) and stonewort (Chara sp.). Macrophytes form a narrow band along the rest of the shoreline which slopes more steeply to deep water.


The zooplankton community was sampled in 1981 and 1982 by the University of Alberta (Prepas n.d.; 1983[b]). The dominant organisms were two species of Daphnia (D. galeata mendotae and D. retrocurva), a large cladoceran (Leptodora kindtii), two other cladocerans (Chydorus sphaericus and Diaphanosoma leuchtenbergianum), two species of calanoid copepods (Acanthodiaptomus denticornis and Diaptomus oregonensis) and three species of cyclopoid copepods (Mesocyclops edax, Diacyclops bicuspidatus thomasi and Acanthocyclops vernalis).

Benthic invertebrates have not been sampled in Wizard Lake.


Wizard Lake provides a moderately popular sport fishery for northern pike; yellow perch are also occasionally caught by anglers. Other species of fish in the lake include white sucker and spottail shiner. In 1948, yellow perch were scarce and exhibited very poor growth rates (Miller and Macdonald 1950). Over a million walleye eyed-eggs were planted in Wizard Lake between 1949 and 1953; in 1967, no walleye could be found and none have been caught since (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.). No winterkills have been noted at Wizard Lake (Watters 1989).


The main part of Wizard Lake provides poor waterfowl habitat because of the steep banks and intensive recreational use. The northwest end and the adjoining marsh area provide fairly good duck habitat. Muskrat and beaver occur there too. White-tailed deer are common, especially at the northwest end of the lake. Ruffed Grouse are found in the wooded areas, and Sharp-tailed Grouse can be found at the margins of pasture and bush land (Edm. and Battle R. Reg. Plan. Commis. 1979[a]).

J.M. Crosby and E.E. Prepas


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