Lakes and watersheds
2013-2017 Strategic Plan for the protection of lakes and watersheds
The Municipality of the Township of Gore is particularly characterized by the presence of water. Among the hundreds of miles of streams and more than 300 bodies of water, there are 36 named lakes which 13 have attracted strong interest for residential development. The Township also has hundreds of different types of wetlands such as marshes, swamps and bogs.
The municipality recognizes that lakes and rivers in its territory are exceptional for its citizens. In addition to creating a variety of beautiful landscapes, these areas contribute to the quality of life for residents. Whether for drinking water, recreation and landscape, people have developed a sense of belonging to the water. Thus, the municipality seeks to protect the quality of these environments, to benefit the community.
Several pressures on these areas threaten their integrity and their purpose, and thereby the goods and services they provide to the community. The challenges of water management are numerous and deal with all the issues and stakeholders.
To address these management challenges, the Municipality of the Township of Gore adopted the 2013-2017 Strategic Plan for the management of lakes and watersheds on April 2nd, 2013. This plan provides the means to achieve sustainable development targets set out in the Environmental Policy. Orientations, objectives and actions proposed in this Strategic Plan will enable the municipality, as well as stakeholders, to improve the conditions of the current situation in the community, while respecting the limits of the natural environment, in order to protect the quality of life and quality of the environment for present and future generations.
The Strategic Plan for the management of lakes and watersheds was implemented to achieve the desired effects on the aquatic environment:
- Maintain water quality to allow water use;
- Maintain water level and flow to allow water use;
- Protect the integrity of aquatic ecosystems in order to preserve the goods and services the environment provides.
The implementation strategy aims to achieve the following results:
- Eliminate bacteriological and pathogenic substances in the water;
- Eliminate the intake of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen into the water;
- Eliminate the erosion and transport of suspended solids in the water;
- Eliminate sources of chemical contamination (pesticides, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, etc.);
- Maintain the water level of lakes to protect their value and their uses;
- Maintain water flow in order to preserve the ecosystem services they provide to the environment;
- Avoid the accelerated eutrophication of aging lakes;
- Eliminate anthropogenic pressures threatening the integrity of aquatic environments.
While keeping in mind the major environmental targets, the strategy of management of lakes and watersheds provides a management framework based on the following objectives:
- During situation analysis, focus on water management in the watershed, decision making and identification of solutions;
- Coordinate the acquisition of knowledge between different stakeholders in the community;
- Inform, educate and raise awareness of the stakeholders regarding the aquatic environment, problems and their roles in water management;
- Establish and maintain an effective regulatory framework;
- Consult the interests and concerns of community stakeholders in order to avoid conflicts and to establish a compromise regarding water use.
Eutrophication is defined as the natural phenomenon of increasing the productivity of a body of water. The natural evolution of a lake is usually very slow and takes place on a geological scale. However, this process can be accelerated by anthropogenic pressures which then lead to premature aging of the lake.
The main cause of eutrophication of lakes is the intake of nutrients, mainly phosphorus and nitrogen. The presence of these elements, whose repercussions are also felt on the wildlife community, highlights the significant growth of algae and aquatic plants in the water column and in the shallower waters. Indeed, increased plant populations provoke a change of wildlife species, thereby altering specific interactions between living organisms. Related to these changes, the increase of these relationships enhances productivity of the lake, leading to eutrophication.
A decrease in the transparency of the water, a decreased depth, an increase in temperature and a decrease of dissolved oxygen are found to be direct consequences of eutrophication. The water gradually transforms itself and the ecosystem alterations bring about changes in the dynamics of wildlife and floristic populations. Eutrophication also increases the risk of proliferation of cyanobacteria. For water users, all this translates into loss of recreational use, loss of aesthetic value of the environment and even loss of property values.
Eutrophication is a complex process linking multiple components of the living and non-living aquatic ecosystem. Therefore, accelerated and artificial increased aging of the body of water is due to anthropogenic activities and uses.
Main potential causes:
- Input of anthropogenic nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen;
- Input of sediments from erosion or other sweeping sources of sediment;
- Intensive development along lakes and artificial shore lines.
Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)
For years, they were called blue-green algae, refusing to consider them bacteria. Unlike other bacteria, they contain chlorophyll and draw their energy from sunlight. They are commonly known as blue-green algae because the first identified cyanobacteria were blue-green in color. However, this is not the case for all cyanobacteria: some are olive green or dark green, others are rather purple.
In recent years, an increasing number of rivers in Quebec had to be closed to swimming and boating due to the proliferation of cyanobacteria. Consequences in humans are coetaneous, but they can have a significant impact on the liver and digestive system if contaminated water is swallowed. If you suspect you have been in contact with toxins and you have these symptoms, rinse your skin and consult a doctor immediately.
For the average homeowners, their main residence is the biggest investment of their lives. Residents’ lakeshores are certainly the most directly threatened by the proliferation of cyanobacteria.
It is also important to notify your municipality of the presence of cyanobacteria on any body of water.
Naturalization of shorelines
Shoreline compliance of inhabited lakes is an important part of 2013-2017 Strategic Plan.
The purpose behind the by-law for shoreline protection is to recreate the plant filter we eliminated by clearing our land. One of the problems facing our lakes and streams is that they receive too much intake of nitrogen and phosphorus. This contribution is, among other things, our septic tanks, but also all kinds of products that we use in everyday life. The plants are quite capable of assimilating nitrogen and phosphorus, in fact they need it. Remember that the three main components of fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. However, when the amount is too high, they do not succeed. Deforesting our land has eliminated much of the natural vegetation filter. Today we talk of land on lakes and rivers, but in fact it is the same for all our land ... Think of the watershed, and share it with your neighbours...
The objective is clear: we want to recreate the plant filter, and this is as true in situations where grass or other ground cover extends to the lake as to where walls are built. A stone or concrete wall is a thermal mass that absorbs heat and redistributes it into the water; this warming effect becomes an aggravating factor. The main objective in such a case would be to cover it with plants, for example with a vine. Remember, it is forbidden to repair a sagging stone or concrete wall. Obviously, you are still entitled to a five (5) meter access to get to the lake or to your dock. Access should be at an angle to the water, to prevent it from becoming a surface water channel without filtration.
Plants to use for naturalization are mainly native plants of Quebec and perfectly adapted to our climatic conditions. To maximize your chances of success, you must consider the type of soil and sunshine, but obviously the moisture content of the soil, since it is a shoreline.
Your municipality has the power to legislate on the environment. The current requirement for naturalization applies to the first ten (10) meters from the shoreline. This means a ban on cutting the grass, or cutting anything else in the first ten (10) meters from the shoreline.
Proper maintenance of your septic system is extremely important for your family and your neighbours, but it is even more important considering the direct impact it has on the quality of the water basin in Gore. A simple defect can cause consequences far beyond the cost of repairs.
Leakage of sewage from a faulty septic system favours the growth of algae and plants and a lower index of dissolved oxygen. Your installation may blurt nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrates, whose presence promotes significantly the proliferation of cyanobacteria. Improper operation of the system also favours the development of harmful bacteria, protozoa and viruses which can contaminate groundwater, streams and lakes, as well as expose the public to the many risks arising from direct contact with waste water.
Regular maintenance is the most effective way to prevent the risk of breakage of any septic system.
The Municipality requires that all owners empty their septic tank:
- Every two (2) years for full-time residents
- Every four (4) years for part-time residents.
A copy of the septic cleaning bill must be submitted to the Municipality.
Here's what else you can do:
- Monitor your septic field regularly paying attention to soft ground, reflux liquid, odour and soil compaction.
- Regularly monitor plumbing (sinks, toilets, showers) to prevent leakage.
- Run appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines, as well as valves, one at a time.
- Wait a few hours between loads of laundry, taking only full loads.
- Direct all drains from the entrance, the roof and the terrace away from the septic field.
- Avoid additives for septic systems; they are redundant and have no impact on the frequency of emptying. In addition, these substances pass into the septic field and inevitably end up in our streams and lakes.
- Avoid the use of garbage disposals. They generate a high rate of organic solids which favour the growth of bacteria and other unwanted microorganisms in the earth.
- Avoid using products that kill bacteria, because they also cause damage to the organic components essential to the good functioning of the septic system:
- Antibiotics (used to kill bacteria);
- Household cleaners that contain bleach, acids or disinfectants;
- Polishing products;
- Caustic drain cleaners;
- Avoid products whose labels contain health risks such as ingestion and skin contact;
- Never dispose of grease or oil down your drain;
- Avoid any products such as phosphates and nitrates that are found in many household detergents. They directly contribute to the outbreak of cyanobacteria and prevent adequate dissolved oxygen in the basin;
- Never throw cigarette filters, sanitary napkins and other non-organic solids in the toilet.
Here are some alternatives to toxic cleaners:
Soap: Choose phosphate-free products and non-toxic
- Scouring powder: Baking soda;
- Fibreglass cleaner: Baking soda paste;
- Floor Cleaner: A cup of vinegar to five gallons of water;
- Glass Cleaner: A cup of vinegar and a cup of warm water;
- Copper Cleaner for copper: Lemon juice and salt;
- Brass Cleaner: Worcestershire sauce or a paste of salt, vinegar and water in equal parts. Rinse;
- Chrome Cleaner: Cider vinegar, polish with baby oil;
- To unclog drains: Pour vinegar and baking soda down the drain. Add boiling water;
- To remove mildew: Equal parts lemon juice or vinegar and salt;
- Wood Cleaner: Three parts olive oil and one part white vinegar.
Your septic system may be defective even if it seems to work well. A well-maintained system is designed to last 20 to 30 years. Breakdowns are frequently caused by the saturation of the soil surrounding the system by organic deposits from plants, but many other factors can cause the premature failure of a septic system:
- Blocked hose or damaged by roots;
- Saturation of the soil by heavy rains;
- Broken tiles;
- Installation poorly located, designed or installed;
- Installation poorly maintained.
Here are some symptoms of a malfunctioning septic system:
- Smell of rotten eggs inside or outside;
- Sewage backup from toilets or bath drains;
- Seepage of sewage above the septic field;
- Gurgling sounds in the plumbing system;
- Light green grass above the septic field;
- A test is available at the municipal office for all registered taxpayers which can be performed by the home owner.
Here's what to do in case of breakage:
- Immediately contact our municipal inspectors, Jason Morrison and Donald Presse at 450 562-2025. They will advise you on the spot about the action to be taken;
- Have your system inspected to determine the cause of failure. Correct the problem to prevent future breakage;
- Repair your system immediately. You are required by law. Please note that the municipality will take the necessary actions in case of neglect or refusal to cooperate.
The Municipality of the Township of Gore is studying the feasibility of establishing an Eco-loan program locally. This program would allow the municipality to buy and replace outdated septic systems and reach an agreement for reimbursement with residents. At this phase of the project, the feasibility study is to evaluate and identify the winning conditions for the implementation of the Eco-loan program. To achieve this we need to identify the best types of septic systems to meet environmental conditions, develop the capital structure of the program, develop the framework of municipal management of the program and analyze the different scenarios for septic cleaning and sludge management. Note that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Argenteuil MRC showed their support by participating financially in the Eco- loan program planning.
Once planned, the Eco-loan program would be available to citizens of Gore, ideally, from the year 2014. The municipality would be the first in Quebec and Canada to implement this type of program. In addition, the feasibility study approach could be used for dozens of municipalities affected by this issue in Quebec who seek to establish a similar program for their residents.