Manitoulin Streams enjoyed a year of working diligently on area watersheds

Water quality expert Jeff Wahl of Wahl Water proviced an indepth presentation on water contaminants and treatment during the Manitoulin Streams annual general meeting. photo by Michael Erskine

SHEGUIANDAH—The accolades garnered by Manitoulin Streams Improvement Association would bury just about any glory wall and despite the challenges presented by a drought of funding while the province was focused on battling the pandemic, the community-based organization still managed to move a number of projects forward.

Manitoulin Streams held its 2022 annual general meeting in person recently at the Sheguiandah Seniors’ Hall. Attendees heard a presentation on water contaminants and treatment delivered by water expert Jeff Wahl and an overview of Manitoulin Streams’ activities through the past year.

The executive for the coming year will include chair Ted Williamson, vice-chair Brian Ramakko, treasurer Algis Tribinevicius, secretary Elsa Lindfield and board members Neil Debassige, Delmer Fields, Lynn Hughson and Bob Florean. It was noted by Mr. Williamson that members must be in good standing for three months before standing for office.

Among the business conducted at the meeting were funding applications to the Nature Infrastructure Fund for $83,471 through Billings Township. The meeting also learned that Manitoulin Streams has received $1,000 from Lukeystrike705, $2,500 from Billings Township, a $1,069 final payment from Canada Summer Jobs, $14,000 from the Ontario Community Environment Fund, $5,000 from Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Community Environmental Fund and $97.50 from the United Way.

Program manager Seija Deschenes noted the organization completed the M17.1 gravel stream restoration and tree planting program and the board was asked to approve the first invoice from Ferguson Aggregate in the amount of $62,507.03 for the gravel.

The board also learned that drone photos taken of Island boat launches have been uploaded to the Manitoulin Streams website and relayed the success of the Manitoulin Agricultural Fair minnow races that were hosted by Manitoulin Streams.

Mr. Wahl’s presentation covered a host of water contaminants and their usual source in Island water bodies, including phosphorus, pathogens such as coliform bacteria and Escherichia coli bacteria (more commonly known as e-coli), nitrates and perfluoroalkyl and polyflouroakyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are a large, complex group of manufactured chemicals that are ingredients in various everyday products, many used to keep food from sticking to packaging or cookware, make clothes and carpets resistant to stains, and create firefighting foam that is more effective—PFAS are also used in industries such as aerospace, automotive, construction, and electronics.

Mr. Wahl noted that most contaminants are essentially invisible, being colourless, odourless and dissolved in water—but added that not all are consumed in levels that would be harmful.

Ms. Deschenes informed the board that Manitoulin Streams has been successful in its education outreach with local schools planting 100,000 trout eggs in Norton Creek, and working with the MSS Robotics team on the METAL STEM and Sustainability Conference.  Presentations were made at the Providence Bay Fair by April James, to the Lake Manitou Association’s 65 members, during National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations and at the Mindemoya Summer School, during the Teddy Bear Picnic, Gore Bay Harbour Days, Haweater Weekend, Manitowaning Summer Fest and a host of river tours. In all, Manitoulin Streams presented four stream tours, 11 displays and 17 educational sessions that reached 703 youth and 884 adults for a total of 1,587 contacts over 20 events.

As well as the in-person events, Manitoulin Streams has leveraged social media through posts and presentations totalling 285 posts that had a reach of 253,106 that generated 13,073 clicks garnering 3,223 reactions.

Manitoulin Streams and its partners planted 445 trees and shrubs over the course of 2022, including two sites on the Manitou River, during the Manitoulin Metal STEM Conference and Manitoulin Secondary School Earth Day.

Other successful events included Phragmites Day, an Island-wide garbage pickup, and fundraisers that included a Father’s Day Gourmet Food Box, painted planters built by Cody Clarke, a fire pit from Steel North as well as items from Matt’ Plumbing and Echo Rental, J. Casson Photography and Wahl Water.

In addition, there was a silent auction with contributions from 69 local businesses. All in, the fundraising efforts pulled in a whopping $23,169.

Manitoulin Streams total accomplishments to date include: repairing and enhancing 12,297 linear metres of shoreline, 126,478 square metres of aquatic in-stream habitat, enhanced 362,266 square metres of riparian habitat, planted 59,229 trees, installed 6,062 meters of fencing, eight nose pumps and 11 watering ramps to keep cattle out of streams and 100,000 brook trout eggs stocked.

Since 2003, Manitoulin Streams has brought $6.3 million in funding and in-kind support, employed two full-time employees, one invasive species liaison, one community stewardship resource liaison and summer job positions for students.