The Environment Committee is a key Committee of the Muskoka Ratepayers Association. Good water quality is the cornerstone to maintaining our wonderful lake area which requires monitoring and action in many different areas. This impacts not only every residence but also our commercial establishments.
Residential Septic Systems must be maintained to keep our Lake’s pristine since few of our residents are on town water and sewers. This requires the township to regularly inspect them and every resident to take care of their septic systems with regular pump outs and replacement at end of life. We have issued lots of tips in the past on proper septic maintenance. We also get involved in commercial sewage treatment for resorts and municipal facilities. We continue to have concerns about the sewage lagoons at Touchstone which after settling are pumped out into Lake Muskoka during the off season. We also have c oncerns about the sewage treatment lagoons at Eveleigh (near Butterfly Lake) which are being communicated to our District and the Ministry of the Environment. We continue to push for Energy from Waste to be the preferred solution for disposal of solid waste, over landfill due to the potential for contamination of ground and ground water from storage of garbage. We promote the excellent recycling program in our District. We continue to request water standards for bottled water at the federal level.
Good quality water is the cornerstone to maintaining our wonderful lake area. Please see the 2010 Lake System Health Report is available from the district at www.muskoka.on.ca. To see the data for your lake go to www.muskokawaterweb.ca. In the Muskoka Lakes Township the “over threshold” areas unchanged from 2009 are: Clear (Torrance) Lake, Dark Lake, Cox Bay (Lake Joseph), High Lake, Leonard Lake, Long Lake, Medora Lake, Mirror Lake, Nutt Lake, Brackenrig and East Portage Bay (Lake Rosseau), Rutter (Little Long) Lake, Silver Lake, Stewart Lake and Three Mile Lake. Several chemicals other than phosphorus are also tested and monitored closely – calcium is one of these. Depleting levels of calcium – now called osteoporosis of the lakes – is an increasing concern due to negative consequences on shells and skeletons of native species.
Watershed Management and Health is monitored closely by the Muskoka Watershed Council. The Ratepayers Environmental Chair attends these meetings. Wetlands are a key part of keeping our watershed healthy and we are involved in promoting the identification of more wetlands for protection in our township. There is an excellent comprehensive Muskoka River and Lake water management plan that specifies and monitors lake and river levels for the various hydro and dam operations at specific times of year.
With more severe and intense storms producing heavier rains in Muskoka as a result of climate change, reducing storm water run-off into our lakes and rivers is more important than ever. This is because run-off brings with it surface contaminants, pollutants, nutrients, pathogens and sediments. Water quality is always poorer after a heavy rain. By naturalizing your shoreline and ensuring a vegetative barrier, run-off will be reduced and contaminants captured before they reach the water. Do not remove trees or bushes within 20 m of the shoreline. Curve trails and pathways and avoid non-porous surfaces such as pavement to reduce water run-off speed. Create landscape depressions or retention ponds and rough surfaces (rocks) to capture or slow water movement. Install rain barrels for excess rain. Do not use salt in winter or fertilizer/pesticides in the summer where it will be washed into the lake. Take all toxic chemicals, gas/oil to the Eveleigh Transfer station.
The Muskoka Ratepayers have played a major role in Dark Sky Lighting. They were a key part of the group that set up the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve. We continue to work with both the town of Gravenhurst and our township of Muskoka Lakes promoting Dark Sky Lighting. At our 2011 AGM, the speaker’s topic was Dark Sky Lighting.
If you’d like to join the committee, please contact us.