Battle Lake

Basic Info
Map Sheets83B/16
Lat / Long52.9666667, -114.1833333
52°58'N, 114°10'W
Area4.56 km2
Max depth13.1 m
Mean depth6.9 m
Dr. Basin Area103 km2
Dam, WeirNone
Drainage BasinBattle River Basin
Camp GroundPresent
Boat LaunchPresent
Sport FishLake Whitefish, Yellow Perch, Northern Pike
Trophic StatusEutrophic
TP x31 µg/L
CHLORO x11.2 µg/L
TDS x200 mg/L
Photo credit: unknown


Lovely Battle Lake is set in a narrow valley surrounded by heavily treed hills. It is located 102 km southwest of Edmonton in the County of Wetaskiwin and can be reached by travelling south for 68 km on Highway 2, then west for 35 km on Highway 13. The hamlet of Battle Lake is situated less than a kilometre east of the lake (FIGURE 1).

The lake's name is a translation from Cree and refers to the frequent territorial conflicts between the Blackfoot and Cree in the region near the Battle River (Alta. Cult. Multicult. n.d.). Settlers began arriving in the area around 1900, and established a church and general store near the southeast end of the lake (Conroy Club and Yeoford Ladies Club 1973). By 1904, loggers were active and the lake and river were used to float lumber and logs downstream to Ponoka and Hobbema (MacGregor 1976). A sawmill located near the lake operated in the 1920s; logging in the area ended in 1944 (Falun Hist. Soc. 1974).

The proximity of Battle Lake to popular resort lakes such as Pigeon and Wizard has encouraged the County of Wetaskiwin to plan shoreline development carefully, with the objective of preserving the natural wooded beauty of the lakeshore. Consequently, low-volume, well-dispersed activities such as hiking, nature viewing, angling and cross-country skiing are encouraged. Power boats are permitted on the lake, but they are subject to a maximum speed of 12 km/hour (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1988).

Public access to Battle Lake is available at a County of Wetaskiwin campground on the southeast side of the north shore (FIGURE 2). The campground, which opened in August 1989, has 26 campsites, a tenting area, a day-use area with picnic tables and firepits, a boat launch and walking trails. Improvements planned for 1990 are flush toilets, tap water and a playground. The county also owns land at the lake's outlet, the Battle River, and holds a recreational lease on the quarter section of Crown land immediately west of the outlet (FIGURE 2). Two additional areas of Crown land, located on the northwest side of the south shore, have protective notations and are reserved for natural areas by Alberta Forestry, Lands and Wildlife (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1987). The remainder of the shoreline is privately owned. The only institutional camp on the lake is owned by the Girl Guides of Canada. It consists of 0.78 ha of land on the south shore (FIGURE 2).

The water in Battle Lake is fairly clear, but occasional algal blooms colour the water green in late summer. The lake supports a sport fishery for northern pike, yellow perch and lake whitefish and a domestic fishery for lake whitefish. There are no sport fishing regulations specific to Battle Lake, but provincial limits and general regulations apply (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. 1989).

Drainage Basin Characteristics

Battle Lake's drainage basin is almost 23 times larger than the lake (Tables 1, 2). Elevations range from 1,000 m at the western edge of the watershed to 837 m at the lakeshore. The lake basin lies in a deep, steep-sided valley that was a glacial meltwater channel that drained Lake Edmonton during the Pleistocene epoch (Battle R. Reg. Plan. Commis. 1974). Battle Lake is the headwater of the Battle River, which flows from the southeast end of the lake. The main inlet, Battle Creek, is less than 2-m deep and flows into the northwest end of the lake. Several smaller, intermittent creeks and springs are located on the north and south shores.

Battle Lake's watershed lies in the Moist Mixedwood Subregion of the Boreal Mixedwood Ecoregion (Strong and Leggat 1981). The main soils are moderately well-drained Orthic Gray Luvisols that developed on glacial till of the Paskapoo Formation (Lindsay et al. 1968). More than three-quarters of the drainage basin is forested (FIGURE 2). The cover is medium to heavy and consists of trembling aspen, balsam poplar, and white and black spruce, with the addition of birch, willow and alder in the lake valley. The forestry potential of the area is moderate to poor, because of either local excess or deficiency of soil moisture. Growth is slow and trees do not reach full size (Battle R. Reg. Plan. Commis. 1974). A County of Wetaskiwin land-use bylaw encourages retention of tree cover.

Most of the remaining quarter of the drainage basin is used for agriculture; only a small portion has been cleared for urban or cottage development. Near the lake, the valley sides are too steep to permit agriculture, and Organic and alluvial soils in flatter areas in the valley are suitable only for production of hay (Battle R. Reg. Plan. Commis. 1974). Pasture along Battle Creek is subject to frequent flooding.

Lake Basin Characteristics

Battle Lake consists of a long, narrow single basin that has a maximum depth of 13.1 m (FIGURE 2). The sides of the basin slope steeply in the central portion of the lake and more gradually at the northwest and southeast ends. The lake bottom consists mainly of sand and a few gravel shoals to depths of 4.5 m, and of mud in the deeper areas (Christiansen 1978). The shoreline also consists of sand, except at the northwest end, where it is muddy. The beach area is narrow, and almost disappears when water levels are high (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.). The elevation of Battle Lake was recorded occasionally in 1961 and 1962 and has been monitored regularly since 1965 (FIGURE 3). The difference between the maximum elevation (837.23 m), recorded in July 1986, and the minimum elevation (836.10 m), recorded in February 1981, is 1.13 m. Changes in the lake's area and capacity with fluctuations in water level are shown in Figure 4.

Water Quality

Battle Lake was sampled by Fish and Wildlife Division in 1948, 1979, and 1980 (Alta. For. Ld. Wild. n.d.; Clarkson 1979; Rhude 1980), by the University of Alberta in May 1981 (Prepas 1983) and by Alberta Environment in 1983 and 1984 (Alta. Envir. n.d.[a]). The water is fresh, hard and well-buffered and the dominant ions are bicarbonate and calcium (TABLE 3).

Battle Lake is moderately deep and is sheltered from wind by its steep banks. The water column is usually thermally stratified to some degree during summer. The July 1948 and July 1979 observations detected a marked thermocline and dissolved oxygen concentrations of less than 2 mg/L in deeper water overlying the sediments. In July 1984, the water was weakly thermally stratified (FIGURE 5) and dissolved oxygen concentrations were only 1 mg/L at a depth of 11 m (FIGURE 6). Although the water column was isothermal by September 1984, it was only partially saturated with dissolved oxygen. By February 1985, the water at a depth of 10 m was anoxic (FIGURE 6). It is quite common for small areas of the lake to remain open in winter because springs flowing out of the banks bring in warmer water.

Battle Lake is eutrophic. There was a considerable difference between the maximum chlorophyll a concentrations recorded in 1983 and 1984. In 1983, the highest concentration recorded was 38.2 µg/L in early October, whereas in 1984, the maximum value was 16.3 µg/L, recorded in late August (FIGURE 7). Despite the differences in maximum chlorophyll a concentrations, the maximum (6.5, 6.4 m) and average (3.7, 3.8 m, TABLE 4) Secchi depths were very similar for both years. As in other shallow Alberta lakes, phosphorus concentrations in the euphotic zone of Battle Lake are highest in September. This suggests the release of phosphorus from the bottom sediments during late summer and mixing of phosphorus-rich bottom water into the surface water when the lake mixes.

Biological Characteristics


The phytoplankton community was studied by Alberta Environment monthly during the open-water period in 1983 (TABLE 5). Biomass was less than 5 mg/L on all sampling dates except 5 October, when it reached 10 mg/L. The average biomass over the study period was 3 mg/L. Diatoms (Bacillariophyta) formed 32% of the biomass in May (mainly Asterionella formosa) and 86 to 99% of the biomass in October and November (mainly Stephanodiscus niagarae). Golden-brown algae (Cryptophyta: mainly Cryptomonas ovata, C. erosa and Rhodomonas minuta) were important from mid-May to mid-July and dinoflagellates (Pyrrhophyta: mainly Ceratium hirundinella) formed more than 20% of the biomass from mid-July to early August. Green algae did not form more than 9% of the biomass on any sampling date. Blue-greens (Cyanophyta: mainly Anabaena flos-aquae, Microcystis aeruginosa and Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) were the dominant group from mid-July to early September. Anoxic conditions over the bottom sediments and subsequent release of sediment-bound phosphorus are important factors that stimulate the production of blue-green algae in this lake (Trimbee and Prepas 1987; 1988).

In a 1979 survey, Fish and Wildlife Division noted that the macrophyte community was mainly restricted to a narrow fringe along both shores and to the shallow inlet and outlet at either end of the lake (Clarkson 1979). The dominant emergent vegetation was bulrush (Scirpus spp.) and common cattail (Typha latifolia). In deeper water, yellow water lily (Nuphar variegatum) was plentiful and northern watermilfoil (Myriophyllum exalbescens) was common, but lower in density. Horsetail (Equisetum sp.) was noted in one location only. During a brief survey by Alberta Environment in June 1988, species noted included the emergent species arrowhead (Sagittaria cuneata) and the submergent species stonewort (Chara sp.), northern watermilfoil and Richardson (Potamogeton richardsonii), large-sheath (P. vaginatus) and Sago (P. pectinatus) pondweeds (Mitchell 1988).


The invertebrate community was sampled in 1948 and 1979 by Fish and Wildlife Division (Miller and Macdonald 1950; Clarkson 1979). In 1979, aquatic earthworms (Oligochaeta) and leeches (Hirudinea) were very abundant, and caddis fly larvae (Trichoptera), back swimmers (Hemiptera: Notonectidae), scuds (Amphipoda: Gammarus spp.) and mayfly nymphs (Ephemeroptera) were less abundant.


Five species of fish have been reported in Battle Lake: yellow perch, northern pike, white sucker, lake whitefish and burbot. Walleye eggs were planted in 1951 and 1953; although some fish survived, lack of suitable spawning substrate prevented reproduction, and only a few walleye were captured between 1960 and 1979 (Clarkson 1979). Battle Lake is managed for domestic and recreational fisheries. The main catch of the domestic fishery is lake whitefish. There is no information available for the recreational fishery. A commercial fishery for lake whitefish and northern pike operated from 1949 to 1969 (Alta. Rec. Parks Wild. 1976). It closed after the whitefish catch declined from an average of 15,560 kg/year in the 1950s to 2,885 kg/year in 1966/67 and 15 kg/year in 1968/69.

A partial winterkill occurred in Battle Lake in March 1980. Although several hundred fish died, a test netting in May 1980 caught representatives of all five species normally found in the lake (Rhude 1980). Local residents maintained that the winterkill was an isolated event.


The natural state of the shoreline and the presence of a marshy area at the southeast end of the lake provide habitat for several species of ducks, a Great Blue Heron colony, Common Loons, Ospreys, grebes and Belted Kingfishers. Trumpeter Swans have been sighted on the lake as well (Battle R. Reg. Plan. Commis. 1974; Clarkson 1979).

M.E. Bradford


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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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Conroy Club and Yeoford Ladies Club. 1973. Trail blazers. Conroy Club and Yeoford Ladies Club, Winfield.

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Lindsay, J.D., W. Odynsky, T.W. Peters and W.E. Bowser. 1968. Reconnaissance soil survey of the Buck Lake (NE 83B) and Wabamun Lake (E1/2 83G) areas. Alta. Soil Surv. Rep. No. 24 1968, Univ Alta. Bull. No. SS-7, Res. Counc. Alta. Rep. No. 87. Univ. Alta., Edmonton.

MacGregor, J.G. 1976. The Battle River valley. West. Producer Prairie Books, Saskatoon, Sask.

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

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Prepas, E.E. 1983. Orthophosphate turnover time in shallow productive lakes. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 40:1412-1418.

Rhude, L. 1980. Evaluation of the Battle Lake winterkill of 1980. Alta. En. Nat. Resour., Fish Wild. Div., Red Deer.

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

Trimbee, A.M. and E.E. Prepas. 1987. Evaluation of total phosphorus as a predictor of the relative importance of blue-green algae with emphasis on Alberta lakes. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 44:1337-1342.

-----. 1988. The effect of oxygen depletion on the timing and magnitude of blue-green algal blooms. Verh. Internat. Verein. Limnol. 23:220-226.