By Paul MacInnes, Chair of the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Associations
We all care about the health of our lakes but who is looking after lake health? Governments of all stripes are cutting back on the people and programs that used to protect our lakes and give us up to date data on lake health indicators. Lake associations can help fill this void but only if all of us step up individually and become Lake Protectors.
What can we do to make a difference? The Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Associations (C.H.A.) has some of the most knowledgeable lake health scientists in Canada as scientific advisors and we asked them that question. Based on their advice here are the most powerful steps you can take to protect your lake:
1. Keep your septic system healthy; septics are the number one contributor of phosphorous to our lakes in Haliburton County. The more phosphorous, the greater the chance of algae blooms. Take 20 minutes and watch the ‘Poop Talk’ video on the C.H.A. website (www.cohpoa.org) and then take action by:
- Keeping anything that can kill bacteria out of your septic system
- Minimize and spread out the use of water
- Have your system inspected by an inspector who will take the lid off and do a proper physical inspection
- Have your tank pumped every 3-5 years
2. Renaturalize your shoreline. Natural shorelines deliver incredible benefits, such as:
- Filtering out pollutants such as phosphorous before they get into the lake
- Providing habitat for all sorts of life that supports healthy loons, frogs, fish etc.
- Remember 80-90% of all life in your lake depends on natural shorelines
- Learn about the importance of Natural Shorelines by watching the Ribbon of Life video on the C.H.A. website. Keep in mind even a small area with native plants will help. If you have grass to the lake – simply stop cutting all or part of it and nature will re naturalize the area over time.
3. Vote for people who care about and will act to protect our lakes - Municipally, Provincially and Federally. The last few years have seen major cutbacks at organizations that are responsible for lake health such as the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of Environment, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and many more. The C.H.A. has the opportunity to work with many of these organizations and know that the people left are passionate about their jobs and work very hard. They need our support. Let the politicians know that the health of your lake is very important to you.
4. Support your lake association – the volunteers who hold positions with our local lake associations are fabulous people who give up much of their personal time to be Lake Protectors. They need your support.
- Volunteer for as little as 1-2 hours a year and help out.
- Stop volunteers on the street or at your AGM and say "thank you!" Trust me. It means a lot.
If each of us becomes a Lake Protector our children will be able to enjoy some of our favourite things: the call of the loon, frogs by the shore, and swimming in a clear, clean lake.