Nearly a decade after a CN train derailment spilt oil into the water experts say Wabamun Lake is thriving.

“There was a lot of question about whether this lake would ever come back. We all hoped it would and so far it has,” Don Meredith of the Wabamun Watershed Management Council told CTV News.

Long-time resident Doug Goss said the lake is now healthier than ever.

“We have been coming out here for over 30 years and this is absolutely as healthy as the lake has ever been from every standpoint.”

Meredith was more cautious.

“I wouldn’t say it is quite as good as before but I think we are getting there.

“We are hoping for even further improvements.”

He said he credits the health of the lake to the work of volunteers during the incident.

“Everybody went to work to get the thing cleaned up.”

Goss said he can recall the devastation of that day.  

“It was a nasty August for sure.

“It was just all black goo,” he explained.

“The birds were covered.”

Although he estimates about 1500 properties were affected, it was less than a year before people were back in the water.

“For the most part, within a year we had actually put this behind us.”

Meredith explained that although fishing has now been permitted on the lake it was still catch and release.

Something he hoped would change soon.

“This is helping the fish populations. That's what Fish and Wildlife are trying to do is get the populations to build back up again,” he said, adding Walleye stocks have now been introduced to the Lake.

It was on August 3, 2005 that a CN train derailed dumping nearly 800,000 litres of bunker oil and wood preservative into Wabamun Lake.

According to the Transportation Safety Board the incident was a result of a replacement rail that broke.

Following the spill, CN Rail was ordered to create an emergency response course at NAIT at a cost of $1 million. They were also sentenced to pay a $400,000 fine. They money was expected to go to programs like the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society.

The company paid $90 million for the cleanup and another $40 million on claims.

Wabamun Lake is located about 60 kilometres west of Edmonton on Highway 16.

With files from Sarah Richter