Daily Gleaner – 31Jan2013


31 JAN 2013 04:27PM

Concerns about the health of local lakes has prompted a group of citizens to keep a close eye on what’s going on in the water and on the shore.

Bonny Hoyt-Hallett, president of the Yoho Lake Association, said representatives with interests in six lakes have been working together to monitor conditions and educate people on what they should and shouldn’t do with their respective bodies of water.

The effort has been dubbed the Collaborative Work Project.

“We have been working with the Department of the Environment,” Hoyt-Hallett said.

“They have been doing water monitoring on some of our lakes for a while, but they can get out only so often. We sort of partnered with them on a training program last year and we went out and did testing on our lakes for certain parameters every other week.”

Participating lakes include Harvey Lake, Davidson Lake, Yoho Lake, Magaguadavic Lake and Lake George. Oromocto Lake recently came online and at least two others are looking to join.

The yet-to-be-named coalition is applying for Environmental Trust Fund money to be used for monitoring in an effort to maintain the good quality of the lakes.

Hoyt-Hallett said the group received $8,500 in funding last year and is looking to get at least double that in 2013.

“When we do the monitoring, we use our own boats and our people are volunteers,” she said.

“We are looking at lake shore monitoring (and) to have people along the lake shores actually monitor in front of their property. They can do that even if we don’t get the money.”

Hoyt-Hallett said the lakes have good quality conditions and they want to keep them that way.

But last year, because of weather conditions, climate changes and other factors, a few lakes in the province had blue-green algae, she said.

“The rest of us were sort of sitting there thinking we have got to make sure that doesn’t happen to the lakes we’re sitting on,” Hoyt-Hallett said.

“We want to make sure we educate people about how they use the lake, what they put into the lake, what they’re putting into their grey water, or their systems, that may make its way into our lakes and, therefore, cause them over time to not be as healthy.”

Hoyt-Hallett said the group supports efforts by Eastern Charlotte Waterways Inc. to form a provincial association.

Donald Killorn, executive director of Eastern Charlotte Waterways, a not-for-profit environmental resource and research centre, said a union would assist the volunteer lake-monitoring program.

“A provincewide alliance of lake associations would make that much easier to do,” Killorn said.

“In terms of our objectives, it would be to share knowledge and best practices and also to give a common voice to lake issues. We would also be very interested in helping other lakes who, perhaps, aren’t represented by a lake association. We would want to support them in the creation of a lake association.”

He said a provincial association would be able to obtain equipment needed to monitor lakes and distribute it to whoever required it.

“It would take fewer resources to produce a better result,” he said.

“You could collect more data using fewer resources if you had a common body that everyone was a part of.”

Killorn said he will have a better indication by this fall as to whether the idea of a provincial lakes association will sink or swim.

Hoyt-Hallett said each provincial lake association will have to decide if they want to be part of a provincial body.

“There’s still some work that needs to be done so people will understand what the group would do and what it wouldn’t do,” she said.

“The associations at each of the lakes still will have their own autonomy but the provincial group will give us a chance to share more and be a bit stronger.”