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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Lake report only muddies waters

Lake report only muddies waters

Nov 9, 2005


There are more questions than answers in the recent revelation that phosphorus pollution isn't such a big problem in Lake Simcoe after all.
Or is it?

For years, we've been told by various government agencies the chemical produced by such things as fertilizers and soap is going into the lake causing all those stinking weeds to grow, sucking oxygen out and killing cold water fish such as lake trout and whitefish.

The lake, we were warned darkly, is going to end up as one big dead zone unless we can get that phosphorus loading down to about 75 tonnes per year from the current 100-plus. It was going to cost millions to do that. Millions!

Phosphorus was pouring into the lake from urban and rural areas, sewage treatment plants, the Holland Marsh and other agricultural operations, we were told.

Then came the revelation that -- wait! -- 40 tonnes of the darn stuff was drifting in from the air.

And now comes the latest study from the Environment Ministry (right out of the blue, with no warning) that says we've not only hit the magic 75, we've gone even further down to about 67 and it's probably been that way for a few years, at least.

OK, let's do the math. First we had about 102 tonnes we thought was pouring in off the land both from human activity and nature.

But now if there are 67 tonnes and 40 of that is supposed to be airborne, it means only about 27 tonnes is coming off the land.

OK, we can assume, thanks to the efforts of the Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority and public awareness campaigns such as the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition's excellent Wave program, coupled with some drier than normal weather (global warming?) there was a reduction in phosphorus. But this much?

Then why do all those weeds keep growing?

Even as the new measurements were being recorded, eggheads at the Environment Ministry didn't bother to tell anyone, so, (silly us) we kept pummelling the public with dire warnings about phosphorus, even prompting several lovely local ladies to shed their clothes for a calendar fundraiser.

Now it looks like, maybe, the emperor has no clothes either.

Somebody should have told us.

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