CHA releases Lake Health Report
By Darren Lum
Published May 28, 2019
A new publication on Haliburton County lakes called The Lake Health Report is providing the public with an opportunity to make an environmental difference.
Produced by the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners’ Associations, the full colour report is a first for them. It features 118 lakes, the fish species that live there, how to protect the lakes, and details for each lake such as size, depth and quality, which is related to clarity and levels of phosphorous, dissolved oxygen, calcium, nitrogen and pH level.
CHA chairperson Paul MacInnes said the report educates and encourages action.
“What we’re doing is providing people with information that hopefully gets them more interested in the water quality and the health of our lakes so they in turn take action that they need to take to protect our lakes. It’s a long road. It’s not a sprint it’s a marathon for us to continually make people aware we can’t take the health of our lakes for granted and you see if you go through that report there is a lot of yellow and yellow means ... things are not the greatest. Either yellow for an existing rating or yellow for trendline and so we very much hope that people will look at it and say, ‘I really value my lake and I want to make sure that I take whatever steps there are to take to protect it.’”
MacInnes said every bit helps and the report not only provides information, but also offers tips such as how to keep your septic system healthy and how to re-naturalize your shoreline.
“Just very simple things that people can do,” he said.
As mentioned on the Love Your Lake website (loveyourlake.ca), a natural shoreline can aid in preventing erosion and filter polluted rainwater from flowing straight into the lake.
MacInnes credits much of this project to Sue Vorvis, who approached him last summer about volunteering. He said he had wanted to create a lake health report before, but didn’t have anyone available like Vorvis, who has worked with databases and wrote the lake plan for Growler Lake.
The work started last autumn and included a custom built database, compiling close to two decades of data.
Also credited with this report are other members of the CHA board, John McHardy who worked through the Love Your Lake Shoreline Assessment data, and Jeff Iles for providing municipal information from the Municipality of Dysart et al. More than 2,000 hours were invested in the production. The Haliburton Echo and Minden Times assisted with advertising sales.
Information came from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Specifically, through a special study on lake trout lakes and information from lakes that were part of the Lake Partner Program.
“If a lake didn’t have water quality data because they were either not part of lake trout study or they don’t have a volunteer doing a lake partner program sampling then we just couldn’t put them in. We would have loved to, but we couldn’t,” MacInnes said.
Retailers had reason to be excited about the report. During the opening weekend one retailer sold 30 copies and told MacInnes they have “been flying off the shelf.”
“It’s been unbelievable,” he said.
More than 6,000 of the 8,000 copies were pre-sold before the report was delivered to area retailers on Friday, May 17.
“We are blown away by the reaction,” he said.
Retailers selling the $10 report include Organic Times in Minden, Northern Expressions in Haliburton, Robinson’s General Store in Dorset and at the Cardiff Country Store in Cardiff.
There is no plan to print more due to cost. However, if there was a demand for more than 2,000, they may look at another run, MacInnes said.
And what’s next for the CHA?
Now that all four municipalities have committed to septic re-inspection and the county is moving forward to protect the existing shoreline, MacInnes said the next effort is to get the public to re-naturalize their shorelines.
“We’re going to spend a lot of time over the next number of years convincing people and helping people to start that work of re-naturalizing because as you know from the reports of the shoreline assessment project, the Love Your Lake Project we’re only at 48 per cent natural among the 72 lakes we studied. We need to be at 75 per cent to keep them healthy so we’ve got a long way to go,” he said.
A naturalized shoreline has native species of trees, shrubs and grass that are deep rooted.
See the CHA website (www.cohpoa.org) for more information including a natural plant selection tool, the first of its kind in North America, said MacInnes.