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The press conferences were called to present the latest plans by the municipality to combat the problematic occurrences of algae blooms. The thrust of the fight will be to combat the phosphor that enters the lake.
The protection of the watershed and land surrounding Brome Lake is the key focus of the plan and includes planting trees and bushes and restoring shorelines to a natural state to a width of up to 10 meters. There will also be modifications to the rules of applying herbicides and pesticides and by-laws will be more strictly enforced to ensure compliance and restrictions on grass cutting will also be imposed.
During the June 4th council meeting it was also announced that a number of inspectors of the Town will now have the power to enter and inspect private lands to enforce the bylaws and this will not require the permission of the landowner.
Detergents containing phosphates must be reduced if not eliminated as soon as possible, according to the plan. The common household detergents that most of use in our washing up and laundry are loaded with phosphates that can end up in our lake and lead to problems. There are phosphate free detergents available and it surely won't be long before there are such freindly suds available here in town, heck someone should market a homegrown phosphate-free soap using the Brome Lake name!
As well private engineering firms will perform systematic inspections of septic installations and efforts to monitor and improve pumping stations and aqueducts will be forthcoming. Major sewer projects from Fisher Point to Rock Island Bay will be evaluated and updated to ensure minimal inflow of unwanted nutrients occurs.
Golf courses, often unfairly pinpointed as major polluters of watersheds due to their usage of fertilizers, will undergo systematic follow-ups by the Environment Minister with the hopes of ensuring minimal impact on the aquatic eco-system.
The controversy surrounding motor boats was also touched upon with the Town wanting to ban 2 stroke motors built before 2004 by the end of this year and imposing a no wake zone of 150 meters from shore. The talk of banning snowmobiles and ice fishing vehicles within the next few years was also mentioned in the press release and at the last council meeting some folks were a bit rattled at the thought that there was the possibility that boats, snowmobiles and ice fishing would be banned from the lake within 5 years.
Some attendees of the last council meeting were upset that the actions proposed by the Town involve limiting usage of the Lake and some expressed concern that ice fishing would be banned and any family recreational use of the lake would soon be completely gone. By citing dish soap and motorboats as culprits in the lakes ills some thought they were conveniently ignoring the farms and industries in the area that were likely responsible for quite a bit of phosphore infiltration into the watershed.
At the Renaissance Lac Brome held earlier Robert Lapalme spoke of the damaging agricultural practices that have gone on for decades. Animal agriculture creates a lot of waste and the amount of phosphor per tonne of pig production is 1.5 to 3 kg. This seems high considering that Lapalme said 1 gram of any sort of fertilizer can lead to 500 grams of algae in the lake. What is really mind-boggling is that duck and chicken production results in 23 – 31 kg of phosphor per tonne!
The Duck Farm in Brome Lake reportedly processes 1.5 million ducks per year and if we say that a duck weighs 2 kg then we get 3000000 kgs or 3000 tonnes per year. If each tonne of duck production creates 27kg of phosphor then we have Brome Lake Duck farm producing 84,000 kgs of phosphore per year. OUCH! Some people look at this sort of information and wonder how the finger can be pointed at the Apple Scented Dish Soap under the sink. Heck if detergents are to blame then shouldn’t it stand to reason the LEK, processing mass quantities of shampoos and cosmetics would be equivalent to 10,000 dishwashers running on pot scrubber? Some folks think that this is typical government strategy of blaming the population instead of going after the real culprits...but in the end we are all connected so we are all as much to blame as anyone!
This image shows our fragile little tract of land. This Appalachian natural “province”, or ecoregion, is recognized by Environment Canada as one of the two ecoregions most at risk in Quebec, and as a priority for the protection of species and their habitat. Appalachian Corridor (ACA) is a non-profit conservation organization whose mission is the protection of the natural areas of the Appalachians. They now have offices in Knowlton at 277 Knowlton Road. Visit the Appalachian Corridor (ACA) website
The Town does have to follow the rules set out in the laws which are set out by the Government and there is only so much they can do given the current “rules of engagement”. Blaming the Town for not acting isn’t fair because they are bound by the laws that have been created, to think otherwise would be naïve.
What was interesting was a recent Report on TVA regarding Lac Bluet, a large Quebec Lake that had been suffering for years from degrading lake health, odors, algae blooms, and cloudy water. The residents around the lake took the bull by the horns and all pooled their resources and purchased some sort of large aeration system and dumped in bacterial cultures into the lake. Apparently, one year later, the lake quality was improved beyond their expectations with divers registering clarity improvement of 40% and an almost complete lack of odors! Adding bacteria and large aeration systems to lakes would likely be poo-pood by the Ministry of the Environment and likely Lac Bluet residents didn’t even bother to ask! That’s the way to do it! Grab the bull by the horns! These ambitious lakeside residents have spent less than $15,000 and completely turned their lake around enough that it is worthy of TVA doing a story on it!
Our lake is a bit of a bigger beast so if anyone is going to take that bull by the horns it will need to be a Paul Bunyenesque character to organize that! Let’s hope that all sides can work together for the sake of the Lake instead of blaming anyone in particular. The past is the past and we need to move forward to keep the lifestyle we love!
It’s too early to tell what steps will actually be taken and as of yet there is no use crying that the sky is falling and saying soon Brome Lake will be off limits to all recreation activity. We need to let the next few months play out and see how Mother Nature treats us this season and wait for the details of the Towns plan to unfold.