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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

LSRCA tests product that could solve phosphorus problems

Andrew Wink of Phoslock Water Solutions, was spraying the sample of the material into the stormwater management pond next to the Newmarket municipal offices. Photo by Bill Rea The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority are hoping it is the solution to the phosphorous problem in Lake Simcoe.

Phosphorus has been a problem in fresh-water lakes for years, including Lake Simcoe.

Officials with the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) think they have found a method to deal with it, and the province has put up $250,000 to try it out.

LSRCA hosted a demonstration Thursday outside the municipal offices in Newmarket, in which a quantity of the product, called Phoslock, was applied to a stormwater management pond outside the building.

Mike Waters, director of watershed management for LSRCA, explained Phoslock is made from a modified clay, combined with lanthanum, which adheres to and binds with the phosphorus and holds it down. Once it's on the bottom, it forms a fine layer of sediment that traps other phosphorus, thus preventing it from being a nutrient for plants and algae.

LSRCA Chair Virginia Hackson commented phosphorus ends up in the lake and the 18 tributaries flowing into it. It comes from surface water that flows through such things as farm fields, treatment plants septic systems, etc. Unnaturally high concentrations in the lake have caused excessive growth of certain plants and algae. When they die, they decompose at the bottom of the lake, and Hackson said that uses up oxygen. She explained that forces young cold water fish, like lake trout into shallower waters, thus closer to their predators.

"We believe Phoslock shows great promise," Hackson said, adding it's been demonstrated that it can remove up to 95 per cent of the phosphorus from the water.

She also said the product has been used widely in Australia, United Sates, China and Europe.

Oakville MPP Kevin Flynn, parliamentary assistant to Environment Minister John Gerretsen, said the government's support of this project is a sign of how important it considers the protection of Lake Simcoe.

"It's just a small part of what we're doing in the Simcoe watershed," he remarked.

He also said he has a personal connection with matters like this, recalling his time as a Regional councillor in Halton, and they were having trouble dealing with the smells coming from the algae in Lake Ontario. They tried several methods, and Flynn said he even headed up a committee formed to seek input on the matter.

"This is a little bit more than a job here for me today," he remarked.

He added the government plans to continue looking for innovative and scientific ways to deal with the contaminants in the lake, and that includes looking into climate changes, population growth, invasive species, etc. "We're going to continue to listen to the experts and the people who care about the lake," he declared.

"We're glad that you showed up with a cheque," quipped Newmarket — Aurora MPP Frank Klees.

He also commended LSRCA for the work its been doing and the progress that has been made in cleaning up the lake. "We have a great deal to be thankful for," he commented.

Klees also praised LSRCA CAO Gayle Wood, for learning about Phoslock on a trip to Australia and employing the "best practices" concept to get it tried here.

Ontario Environmental Commissioner Gord Miller was on hand for the demonstration, and reflected that it took several years for people to get the idea that phosphorus is what causes algae, although he pointed out it was accepted by the late 1960s, around the time they started banning phosphates from detergents. But he added it's still a problem.

"It's really, really important that we solve this problem," he declared. "Lets' give this a try and let's be successful."

Eddie Edmunds, chief operating officer of Phoslock Water Solutions of Sydney, Australia, said this material has been used successfully in about 20 countries, adding it's been determined that it's both cost-effective and safe. He also said demand for it has been increasing, which he said is a sign that it's meeting expectations.

King Councillor Jack Rupke, who also sits on LSRCA, was hopeful Phoslock can be applied where it's needed most in the watershed, and "that's basically the river running through the Holland Marsh."

He added the Ministry of the Environment wanted proof that it wasn't going to be a detriment to anything. "That's why we're here," he remarked.

York — Simcoe MPP Julia Munro thought the demonstration showed a couple of things. One is the leadership being shown by LSRCA and the way it looks for best practices to employ. She also said the phosphorus is one of the problems that alerts to other issues in terms of water quality.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Paddlers going dock-to-dock to help lake

Lake getting Dock-to-dock help

Four paddlers will be traveling around Lake Simcoe this weekend in a dock-to-dock fundraising campaign. Don't be surprised to see them show up on your shoreline.

Claire Malcolmson, the Campaign Lake Simcoe Coordinator, Harry Pilford and Shane Macleod, professional canvassers, as well as volunteer Linda Wells, will launch from a cottage on DeGrassi Point, near Lefroy, at 10 a.m. Saturday, and spend four hours paddling to and from the docks of Lake Simcoe residents to hear their concerns, and raise money to fund Campaign Lake Simcoe. Campaign Lake Simcoe is a partnership of the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, Environmental Defence and Ontario Nature, and is acting to keep the Lake Simcoe Protection Act alive until it is finalized and passed, likely at the end of this year.

"We want to make people realize that this is not over yet," Malcolmson said.

Malcolmson ran the dock-to-dock campaign about six years ago, and it was a great success, she said.

"You're taking your chances that people will be on their lawns and docks," she said. However "people will be more interested if you approach them in a different way," she added.

This will give residents an opportunity to voice their concerns about the condition of the lake, and become involved in the efforts to save Lake Simcoe.

"It'll be an adventure and it'll put smiles on all our faces for sure," Malcolmson said.

For more information, visit

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lake Rakes

As we are in full swing of summer and the lake weeds are reaching the top now, here is a listing of the most helpful lake weed cutting products that we have come across. Happy clearing!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Beach advisories posted

Not related to carp die-off: officials

There was no relief from the heat for swimmers at Innisfil Beach Park, yesterday.

Beach advisory notices for both of the park's swimming areas were posted by the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit around the noon hour, putting a damper on anyone's plans for a refreshing dip.

Advisories are warnings for swimmers, but the beach is not closed. It means there are high levels of bacteria that could cause minor skin, eye, ear, nose and throat infections, or stomach disorders. During advisories, officials suggest

swimmers avoid dunking their heads underwater or swallowing the water.

But officials say the advisory is not connected to the recent carp die-off that has plagued Lake Simcoe.

"The water's sick," said youngster David Lamontagne, who was at the beach with his mother, Trudy, and was disappointed he couldn't go for a swim.

"It's a great park. It's too bad (about the closure). All these people would be swimming," she said, looking around at the 25 or more beachgoers gazing out over the water they'd rather be swimming in.

Karin Kell, of Innisfil, was hoping to get her one-year-old son Sean's toes into the water, yesterday afternoon.

"It's disappointing not being able to swim. This is such a nice resource," she said, looking around the south beach area of the park.

"But nobody's to blame," she added.

Jerry Capko, manager of the health unit's safe water program, said the carp die-off does not seem to be connected to the test results the health unit continues to monitor.


"It is important to repeat that the Koi herpes virus (determined to be responsible for the die-off) does not affect humans or other animals," he said.

"The risk to bathers from these bacteria is no different than it has ever been," he added.

Capko said the advisories are put up as a result of ongoing monitoring of beach-water test results and monitoring of environmental factors such as weather conditions, bather load and water clarity.

"Bacterial counts routinely and predictably go up when we get near-shore water churned up by storms, high winds, runoff from rain and even from high bather loads. We have had some of these conditions recently," he said.

Two other beach advisories were issued in Simcoe County on Thursday, both in Tiny Township. They included Conc. 7 West Beach and Conc. 2 West Lawson Road Beach.

Conservation Authority seeking some watershed heroes

Conservation Authority seeking some watershed heroes

Do you know any watershed heroes who are working hard to improve our environment?

You can shine the spotlight on these environmental role models by nominating them for one of six conservation awards. From the Oro- Moraine to the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Uxbridge Brook subwatershed to the Ramara Flats, the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority is seeking nominations for local watershed heroes.

Individuals, businesses and groups that have delivered programs or completed a specific project that has improved the health and quality of the Lake Simcoe watershed, between August 2007 and July 2008, may qualify to win one of six awards.

The Water Conservation Award recognizes individuals and groups who have improved local water quality. Those who have completed a project that improves soil, vegetation and wildlife in the lake watershed may be honoured with the Soil Conservation Award. The Education Award salutes those who have delivered an innovative environmental education program or service to schools, students or the community at large. As reflected by its name, the Media Recognition Award is presented to members of the media for on-going coverage and interest in environmental issues. Those who have implemented or financed a significant conservation project over the last year can be nominated for the Conservation Award of Merit. The George R. Richardson Award of Honour recognizes those who have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to improving the environmental health of the lake.

This year's award ceremony will take place on Oct. 30, at Madsen's Greenhouse in Newmarket.

Nominations should be submitted to the LSRCA before Aug. 8. For more information, contact Dana Eldon at 905-895-1281 ext. 242. Visit to submit nominations online, or to print a nomination form.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Something's fishy in Lake Simcoe

Something's fishy in Lake Simcoe
Posted By Garth Mawhinney

To quote Alice's phrase in the Wonderland novel the Carp situation in the lake is getting "Curioser and Curioser"...

Several things have crossed my mind but my main suspicion is that the blame lies with either a local or provincial government adding something to the lake to "clean it up" and no consideration was given to the fact that it could kill the bottom feeding carp.

Here's how I got there.

We know that there is a move afoot to clean up the lake... that is a good thing.

The problem is that I think there is a cover-up going on and they don't want to take the blame .

Just imagine the government outcry if the carp died because of weed killing chemicals from residents' lawns... they'd go nuts.

But there is no outcry. There is no quaranting of beaches because of the dead fish.. They should close them up if they don't know exactly what has happened to the fish so that we can be assured that taking in a mouthful of deteriorated carp infested water can do no harm to humans.

They're not doing it are they?

That is because they know exactly what happened and are afraid to admit that they put something into the water that killed the fish.

The following is copied from a study done at McMaster University in Hamilton.

Stages of Carp Development



* A long lived and rapid growing fish

* May reach up to an age of 20 years or more

* In North America the largest reported carp was 60 pounds

Mortality Factors

* Carnivorous fish such as pike

* Fish-eating birds, which selectively prey on carp up to one year old


* The agility and rapid growth of the young carp allow them to reduce the amount of predation

* Young carp may hide in aquatic vegetation, again reducing predation

* Carp have strong spines which make them unsuitable for many predators

Why Are They So Successful?

* Carp have the ability to tolerate unfavorable environmental conditions such as:

o Salinity of up to 14% in marshes

o High temperatures

o High levels of water contamination

o Low oxygen levels

* They can tolerate waters with dissolved oxygen as low as 1mg/L O2

I've lived in Gilford for 20 years and this is the first time I've seen this magnitude of dead carp. Coincidence, I think not.

Cover-up for a municipality/provincial government screwup.. I'd believe the latter.

I'd like to be a "fly on the wall" in the chambers of whoever is responsible.

So far I haven't seen them spending taxpayers' money to clean up the mess.. except of course for the curb side bag pick up.

The whole matter "smells fishy" in more ways than one...

If I'm wrong then I'd like the powers that be to prove it..

Just another unsatisfied taxpayer....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Carp - Simcoe watershed residents can soon breathe easier

Simcoe watershed residents can soon breathe easier — literally.
The carp die-off in Lake Simcoe seems to have run its course, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources.

John Almond, area supervisor with the Aurora district of the ministry, said no new dead fish have been found in the lake and the die-off appears to be over in the lake, but still might not have run its course in neighbouring waterways.

Dead fish now being found died some time ago, he said.

Test results on 13 of the 26 carp and one bullhead submitted for testing have come back from the lab at the University of Guelph and show nine of the carp died of the koi herpes virus.

Three other types of bacteria found in the fish naturally occur in the lake, but were found in elevated levels in some of the fish, Mr. Almond said.

Some environmental factors contributed to the fish kill as well, including fluctuations in water temperature and carp spawning activity "that can also make them susceptible to disease," he said.

Koi herpes poses no health risk to humans, but one of the bacteria found can be harmful to people with suppressed immune systems or who have open sores or cuts. Those people are being urged not to go in the water, especially if there are dead fish present.

York Region Health Services safe water program manager Bernard Mayer said people should not go in the water if they have an open sore because of the presence of natural bacteria, dead fish or no dead fish.

"Currently, there are no health concerns for the public for the time being," he said. "Those bacteria that were found are naturally found in the environment, so they're always present. From indications we got, there is no increase in those bacteria."

The public is cautioned that further test results on the remaining fish are still to come.

The Ministry of Natural Resources also advises anglers not to consume any fish that appear to be sick, dying or already dead.

As with any dead or dying fish or wildlife, pets should not be allowed to eat or come into contact with dead or dying fish.

If you find dead fish along your shoreline, you are advised not to handle them with bare hands.
Wear gloves and use shovels or rakes to move the fish. Dispose of the gloves and bags in the garbage. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling the carcasses. Wash and disinfect with mild bleach the shovel or any other tool that came into contact with the animal.

Dead fish may be buried at least two feet deep, or double-bagged for disposal in landfills.

Residents are urged to check with their municipality to see what arrangements have been made for collection or transport of the dead fish to waste disposal

Monday, July 14, 2008

Carp die-off in Lake Simcoe may last a while

Carp die-off in Lake Simcoe may last a while;

During the Canada Day celebrations, we received many questions at our booth about the local carp deaths. This is a major concern to residents as the remains

are visible, often washing up on shores and public beaches. Due to the interest we decided to cover this as our first article on invasive species.

Carp is an exotic invasive species. This means they are not originally from this area, but were brought here by early settlers. They originally entered Lake Simcoe in the late 1800s when flooding caused the small millponds where they lived to overflow into the Holland River at the south end of the lake. Carp are generally local to the eastern parts of Asia and to Russia, although many people believe they are native to

North America. They compete with native fish for resources, can

carry diseases, and disturb the natural

state of water bodies (such as upsetting sediment which can settle on eggs from native species or slow plant growth).

Last year, a similar problem with carp die-offs occurred in the Kawarthas, particularly in Lake Scugog. The peak for the die-off lasted approximately two to three weeks, but it may take longer to exit the local waterways because of the size of our lakes.

Last year, koi herpes virus was found in some of the carp tested and, although this may also be found in local carp, lab results have not yet been confirmed. It is always very difficult to determine the original source or how long the virus has been around before it began affecting the carp.

However, there are a number of possible pathways of diseases. One includes the aquarium trade. It is extremely important that you never release any aquarium water, plants or fish into the environment as any of them could carry diseases that would adversely affect resident aquatic life. It is illegal to release bait bucket water into any body of water.

Other cases of species dying, like the brown bullhead, have been reported, but the vast majority are carp. The hotline for reporting cases of deceased fish is 1-866-929- 0994. They are especially interested in hearing about sick fish that could be collected for further testing by the lab. Water quality concerns should be addressed to the local health unit at 721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.

Keep in mind that landowners are responsible for the cleanup of private shorelines. Municipalities are responsible for public beaches and shores, whereas the Ministry of Natural Resources is responsible for provincial parks. There is no assigned responsibility for open waters, and fish typically wash up on shore before they are collected.

You should never touch a dead animal with your bare hands. When cleaning up deceased fish, wear gloves, disinfect tools, and wash your hands.

For disposal, if numbers are low, you can bury them. Alternatively, or for larger quantities, double bag the remains and either set them out for garbage pick-up or take them directly to the waste facility. Do not throw dead fish back into the water or allow them to rot on shore.

We hope to write a follow-up article later in the summer when more information becomes available. Please check back for more information and, in the meantime, enjoy our other articles on invasive species and species at risk.

Visit us at the Kids For Turtles office or call us at 325-5386 for more information or Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters handouts on invasive species.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wind Farms proposed in Innisfil - 5th Line

Trouble swirling over wind farm

Group says location of proposed wind turbines in Innisfil is all wrong

Opposition is blowing strong and hard against a proposed wind turbine farm along Highway 400.

The Innisfil Wind Watchers are trying to whip up interest about the project, which would build five, 390-foot-high turbines on 200 acres of agricultural land on the highway's east side.

Group members say it's the wrong location for a project of this size.

"It is not a wind farm, it's an industrial wind power plant," said Mike Escheli of Wind Watchers.

"It's huge, and it's going to be there for a long time," said Isabelle Wagner,

another Wind Watcher.

"It's just too close to where people live," said Jim Roberts, an organic farmer with 300 acres of land.

"This does not make good business sense," said Gaye Trombley, also of Wind Watchers. "If a wind-turbine project is built, that will block long-term commercial or residential development (along the Highway 400 corridor)."

Wind Watchers' members have also expressed concerns about the noise from turbines, the shadow flicker from its blades and how it will affect area property values.

Nearby businesses say it will hurt their bottom lines, and there are also safety concerns.

"The location of the wind turbines couldn't be worse," said Joe Chow of Skydive Toronto, which operates out of nearby Cookstown Airport. "It's an accident asking to happen."


"People will not want to jump out of an airplane with a wind turbine around," said Trombley, who operates nearby Avalon Orchards.

This project is being proposed by Schneider Power Wind Turbines, and Sarah Reatsen, one of its environmental planners, says opposition has been minimal to this point.

"I think it's just been from a few individuals we have heard negative comments from," she said. "Wind energy is such a positive thing for the world, not to mention Ontario and Canada."

Reatsen said Schneider intends to meet with Wind Watcher officials later this month.

Wind power is a clean, renewable source of energy and turbines reduce the need for electricity generated by fossil fuels, which contribute to global warming.

If approved, Schneider's project would connect to a 44 kilovolt grid on Innisfil's 5th Sideroad. To do this it would require feeder lines and a substation.

But local residents might not see any direct benefit from the electricity from the wind turbines, expected to generate a total of 10 megawatts annually.

"We may never see the hydro that this project generates," Escheli said. "It will go somewhere else."

The Wind Watchers also say the proposed turbine locations don't get much of a breeze.

"There are a lot of problems with that site because of the lack of wind," Roberts said. "It isn't going to be very effective in producing energy."

But Reatsen says Schneider has done wind testing and studies, and that it expects the turbines to be turning 98 per cent of the time. She said 75 per cent is normal.

So Schneider believes there will be enough wind.

"We wouldn't be going ahead if there wasn't," Reatsen said.

The Wind Watchers are also concerned that allowing one turbine farm could lead to others.

"Once you have one (wind turbine farm), there is no incentive for the others not to put up one," said Roberts. "You could be looking at wind farms all down the 400 highway."

Schneider would strike a long-term easement ag reement with the landowner, paying an undisclosed amount of money for the right to place turbines on the land -- which could still be farmed.

The company has asked the town to rezone the land, and amend Innisfil's Official Plan, to allow turbines to be built. A public meeting is expected this fall, perhaps as early as September.

The wind turbine farm could be operational by the summer of 2010.

In Barrie, Bob Jackson of Jackson's Toyota on Mapleview Drive wants to build a 400-foot wind turbine at his automobile dealership, which would produce enough electricity to power about 500 homes.

City planning staff are considering Jackson's plan, then it will go to Barrie councillors.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Connection between Phoslock treatment and carp die off?

A pilot project was launched this Spring in the Lake Simcoe Southern Basin (costing $250K) to experiment with a new water treatment solution called Phoslock which is said to remove phosphorus in the lake. This is the first instance of this being added to the water (this Spring) and to my recollection, this is the first year I have ever seen such a mass die-off of the carp. The Phoslock affects the lake bottom adding a layer of material that is said to be harmless to fish, I believe Carp are bottom feeders, is it possible that there is a connection?

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Things aren't going swimmingly for Carp in local waters.

Things aren't going swimmingly for Carp in local waters.

Large numbers of the dead fish are washing up along the shore of Lake Simcoe and unconfirmed reports say the die off is also starting to affect carp in Lake Couchiching.

A message on the telephone at the Midhurst office of the Ministry of Natural Resources says the department is currently monitoring a die off in Lake Simcoe and offers the following information for those dealing with carcasses.

"For assistance in the removal of dead fish from shoreline please contact a private dead stock removal company who can assist for a cost."

The ministry spokesperson was out of the Midhurst office until July 2.

With calls coming in from residents Mayor Bill Duffy is frustrated with the response.

"The public already know the fish are dying. They want somebody to do something," said Duffy. "

That somebody turns out to be the County of Simcoe. The County is implementing special provisions to help residents removing dead fish from their property.

Fish matter will be accepted free of charge during the die off at the Mara Waste Transfer Station located on County Road 169 during regular hours.

An additional five bags of fish material will also be accepted at curbside on regular scheduled pick up days. Fish must be double bagged and can't weigh more than 20 kilograms (44 pounds). The County is also reminding residents to take precautions when handling the dead fish.

As his level of frustration grows with the MNR and Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority Duffy is happy with the County's decision.

"As far as Lake Simcoe (region conservation authority) and the MNR are concerned they have been absolutely no help," said Duffy, noting he'd made several calls Monday and hadn't received satisfactory answers. "I'm very glad the County has stepped up to help us here."