Leech Lake, Muskoka

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Lake Water Quality

2006 water quality report has been published on the District of Muskoka web site. Leech Lake is doing poorly, we are designated as 'Moderate' and 'Over Threshold'.

Moderate means we are at risk to algae growth during the summer and new construction should be limited on the lake. Over threshold means our lake has too much phosphate in it based on a mathmatical module developed by the District of Muskoka.

Our lake threshold is 9.51 micrograms of phosphate per liter of lake water, in May of 2006 the records show the lake had 11.6 micrograms of phosphate per liter of lake water. The recommended goal (as per the District) for our lake is 6.34 micograms per liter.

Why are we so high? Recent (last summer) District studies have identified the primary source of phosphates contamination is coming from the cottage waste systems, septic and grey water treatment systems are allowing too much phosphate into our lake. Second is the rain water running off from our properties and into the lake. The buffer zone around the lake is not retaining enough of the nutrients caught up n the rain water, therefore these nutrients are carried into the lake further contaminating it.

The Stewardship Committee at the lake is running 3 programs with the District to monitor and report on the quality of the lake water. The data collection and reporting will tell us the lake is getter better, worse or breaking-even with any attempt on correcting the problem.

Correcting the problem, we have been told by the District that the property owners and property users with lake frontage need to produce fewer phosphates, which in turn will reduce the level of phosphates entering the lake. The more property owners and the more property useage around the lake will require even more phosphate being restricted into the system. Secondly, it has been recommended that we do not use anymore than 10% of our lake buffer zone for decks and water access. Rebuild the buffer zones and retuen the shorelines to the way it was found.



At 7:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phosphates are not the issue, phosphorous loading is. Phosphorous is necessary for life and is present in human waste. Septic systems don't remove phosphorous. Making Leech Lake a no poop zone is impractical, of course. Poorly designed, placed or malfunctioning septic systems make the problem much worse and also contribute bacterial counts as well. The suggestion around buffer vegetation zones between the lake and sources of phosphorous, septics and lawn fertilizer is a sound suggestion. But there are a number of other things that could and, frankly should be done.

Leech Lake is not the worst in the area, by a long shot. What is important here is, in my opinion, taking action which influences the trend. Note that Bigwind, Brandy, are much worse. McKay and Healey are comparable, whereas Wood and Bird are considerably better. This likely traces to size, depth and water volumes, in all likelihood.


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