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Pakowki Lake is an endorheic lake in Alberta, Canada located south of Etzikom, Alberta and not far north is the former town site of Pakowki which may have received its name from the lake.

Pakowki Lake
Aerial - Pakowki Lake 01 - white balanced (10433028693).jpg
Pakowki Lake, aerial photograph, August 2013
LocationCounty of Forty Mile No. 8, Alberta
Coordinates49°18′24″N 110°54′18″W / 49.30667°N 110.90500°W / 49.30667; -110.90500Coordinates: 49°18′24″N 110°54′18″W / 49.30667°N 110.90500°W / 49.30667; -110.90500
Lake typeendorheic, slough
Primary inflowsEtzikom Coulee, Irrigation Creek, Erickson Coulee, Ketchum Creek, Canal Creek, Bond Coulee, Bryant Coulee
Primary outflowsnone
Basin countriesCanada
Max. length35 km (22 mi)
Max. width8 km (5.0 mi)
Surface area123 km2 (47 sq mi)
Surface elevation860 m (2,820 ft)

It is located in the prairies of southern Alberta, at an elevation of 860 metres (2,820 ft), in the County of Forty Mile No. 8. It is fed by a number of coulees and creeks, such as Etzikom Coulee, Irrigation Creek, Erickson Coulee, Ketchum Creek, Canal Creek, Bond Coulee and Bryant Coulee, and has no outflow. Reaching a maximum extent of 123 square kilometres (47 sq mi), it is one of the largest lakes in the province.

The name means "bad water" in Blackfoot language,[1] named so for the bad smell caused by the lack of an outflow. While it is the largest water body in southern Alberta, its waters are intermittent, and it can be classified as a slough. In times of flooding, the lake overflows through a channel into the Milk River, which flows 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) south of the lake.


The Pakowki Lake Provincial Bird Sanctuary is established on and around the lake, which provides congregations of waterfowl and waders, as a staging area for migration along the western flyway.[2] The lake is designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) and listed by Bird Studies Canada and Bird Life International as globally significant[3] but none of the lake has federal or provincial protected status.[4]

Species of birds observed at the lake include double-crested cormorant, black-crowned night-heron, marsh wren, cinnamon teal and American bittern.[5]

Mammals such as pronghorns, badgers, coyotes, striped skunks and porcupines are commonly found on the shores as well.

The lake lies in a sand dune-wetland environment of the Grassland biome. Flora on the lake shores consists of threatened Western Spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis), vulnerable Smooth Goosefoot (Chenopodium subglabrum), Great Basin Downingia and Skeletonweed (Eriogonum deflexum).[6]

The lake contains no fish species.[7]

Avian botulismEdit

In high water years, the lake kills hundreds of thousands[8] of birds due to avian botulism. Government studies conclude that nothing can be done to prevent the botulism.[9][10]


  1. ^ Friends of Geographical Names of Alberta. "Pakowki Lake". Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  2. ^ Alberta Wilderness Association. "Pakowki Lake". Retrieved 2009-05-08.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^
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  5. ^ Alberta Sustainable Resources Development. "Pakowki Lake". Archived from the original on 2007-08-14. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  6. ^ IBA Site Listing. "Pakowki Lake, Foremost, Alberta". Archived from the original on 2011-06-12. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ 2011 County Commentator Article
  10. ^ 2011 Avian Botulism predicted