Mindemoya Lake stewardship group to test water quality with Central’s help

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Organizations also seeking support from Billings and M’Chigeeng for ongoing water monitoring

MINDEMOYA – Central Manitoulin municipal council will allocate funds in its 2022 budget to assist the Lake Mindemoya Stewardship association in continuing to do water testing for Lake Mindemoya. 

This comes after the chair of the LMS group, Stan Drystek, made a presentation at the Central Manitoulin water, waste and education (WWE) committee recently. He raised concerns the group has in regard to water quality and activities that have taken place on the lake that are affecting it.

“There has been a dramatic increase in waterfront development around the shorelines of Lake Mindemoya,” said Mr. Drystek. “The result has been the destruction of the shoreline natural vegetation, despite the fact that property owners do not even own the 66-foot marine allowance.” 

“The stewardship association is concerned that the present by-laws do not sufficiently protect the destruction of this marine allowance or are not being enforced,” said Mr. Drystek. 

“So, what’s the big deal about preserving our natural shorelines? First off, the property owner does not own the 66-foot marine allowance, you do,” said Mr. Drystek.

“Secondly, the natural vegetation along shorelines prevents shoreline erosion and acts as a natural filter of heavy metals, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous which are dissolved in run-off and ground water,” said Mr. Drystek. “The root systems of the natural vegetation intercept these pollutants as they take in soil moisture and release it through the leaves in a process known as transpiration. A healthy oak tree can absorb and transpire as much as 150,000 litres of water in one growing season.”

Mr. Drystek explained, “as the September 27 meeting, minutes indicate that we also had another blue green algae bloom on Lake Mindemoya this summer. The first one occurred in 2012. This is the only lake on the Island that has had blue green algae outbreaks. The most common cause is phosphorous and nitrogen from fertilizers and poor sewage management systems combined with water movement, turbidity and temperature. Once again, this underscored the importance of natural vegetation to filter these elements out.”

“To that end, the association wishes to recommend that the bylaws of the municipality, in particular but not exclusively, section four “administration” should be amended as stated on page two of your correspondence from the stewardship association,” said Mr. Drystek.

“As indicated in our September 27 meeting minutes, we have also embarked on Lake Mindemoya water quality testing,” continued Mr. Drystek. “Seven locations around the lake were tested and as pointed out by Jeff Wahl, there is some concern in some of the test results. Specifically, higher total dissolved solids (TDS) as well as e-coli and coliform readings at two sites (Stanley Park and Oakes Bay). It has been recommended by Jeff Wahl that regular water quality testing should be done on a monthly basis during the spring, summer and fall to monitor water quality. Our problem here is costs. This first round of testing was paid for by donations from Enviroenergy (Jean Marc Petri) and Wahl Water (Jeff Wahl). This is not sustainable, however, so we need funds if continued testing is to be conducted.”

“At our November 1 meeting it was suggested that these costs be covered by Central Manitoulin and Billings Township,” said Mr. Drystek. “Why test? To monitor changes in water quality over time.” 

Lake Mindemoya is the water source of the town of Mindemoya, pointed out Mr. Drystek. “Many taxpayers on waterfront properties use Lake Mindemoya as a water source. We project the costs of testing the same locations over the seven spring, summer and fall months to be about $3,500. prorated to $3,000 for Central Manitoulin and $500 for Billings. Stewardship members will collect all the samples, do the testing, record and report all results to the municipality.”

“I would like to thank Stan and his group for your observations,” said Richard Stephens, mayor of Central Manitoulin, at the WWE meeting. “I’m a little surprised that you are bringing up the issue that there have been lakefront changes and that it has not been picked up ourselves. We may need to have a liaison between this group and the municipality so we are aware of the changes that have been made on the shorelines.”

“We truly want to be part of the solution,” stated Mr. Drystek. “Our property owners are owners that live around the lake as well.”

“You mentioned Billings Township as possibly contributing to the water testing. M’Chigeeng First Nation is also on the lake. I’m just wondering if your group has approached them as well about contributing to these costs?” asked Mayor Stephens. 

Mr. Drystek noted that he has made four attempts inviting M’Chigeeng to be part of the stewardship body but has not received any reply as of yet. 

“Regarding the shoreline modifications and trees being taken down, I was always under the impression that any work on the shoreline was under the Ministry of Natural Resources jurisdiction,” said Councillor Steve Shaffer. 

Mr. Drystek noted the natural resources ministry is responsible for modifications made in the water. However, the municipality has authority on work done on the shorelines. 

“We’ll do all the water testing work,” stated Mr. Drystek. “All we need is the funding.” 

“I think this is very important,” stated Councillor Rose Diebolt, in putting forward the motion which passed by the WWE committee to recommend to council to allocate $3,000 in the 2022 budget for the water testing.

Central Manitoulin council, at its meeting November 11, passed a motion to allocate $3,000 in the 2022 budget to assist the Lake Mindemoya Stewardship group in the water testing of Lake Mindemoya.