It’s widely known that lakes in and around Calgary provide both recreational opportunities and some highly desirable residential and vacation real estate.

However, here are five things you might not know about Calgary-and-area lakes:

1. Making a splash
Completed in 1968, Lake Bonavista was the first manmade residential lake in Canada. At the time, the permit process for building a lake was not well established.

The story goes that not only was the lake dug without all the necessary permits in place, but it was then filled without permission using water diverted from nearby Fish Creek.

2. Topping up
Today, most Calgary lakes top up as needed with water from the City, which charges them a rate specific to lake customers.

To add 10 cm of water to a lake the size of 43-acre McKenzie Lake at the summer-month peak price of $2.664/m3 would cost about $139,000.

To save money, Lake Sundance drilled its own well in 2011 to provide water when needed.

Maintaining water quality in a lake requires a good level of oxygen in the water, which can be achieved naturally as winds “turn over” the lake.

3. Island life
Lake Newell, located near Brooks, was created in 1914 and is home to rare island real estate on Kinbrook Island. The island is named after the local kinsmen club, which started a campground that later became Kinbrook Island Provincial Park. The island cabins rarely appear on the open market, as most are passed down from generation to generation through the families of the original owners.

In Calgary, Mahogany Lake was designed with two islands to offer exclusive, bridge-accessed island lots.

4. A breath of fresh air
Maintaining water quality in a lake requires a good level of oxygen in the water, which can be achieved naturally as winds “turn over” the lake.

However, for smaller lakes, human intervention is often required. Ten-acre Arbour Lake has a system of submersible pumps and diffusers, along with a rock-and-stream feature that helps aerate the water to keep it clean and healthy.

At Fish Creek Provincial Park’s Sikome Lake, there is an actual water treatment plant to maintain water quality at the day-use facility that draws roughly 200,000 visitors per season.

5. Fun on the water
Calgary lakes offer a variety of recreational activities. Fishing is a popular summer and winter pastime, with most lakes re-stocked several times a year.

Rules limit the number of fish a household can catch and keep at most lakes, but at Lake Sundance, anyone who catches a perch is required to keep it, as this invasive species competes for the same food sources as the stocked trout.

At Lake Chaparral, scuba divers can enjoy an underwater obstacle course that includes huge segments of cement pipe for divers to swim through.

Chaparral will also be the site of what might be Calgary’s most unique lake event this year when a local dive club holds an underwater Halloween pumpkin carving competition. Participants are asked to bring a bag to collect all pumpkin trimmings, so they don’t float away.