Our lake is something we want to enjoy, and want future generations to enjoy as well. Over the past few years the lake water quality has fluctuated, and in the fall of 2019, it suffered a large Blue-Green algae outbreak. This is not only unpleasant, but can have serious health impacts to both animals and humans.
A number of cottagers have taken it upon themselves to look into what can be done to help our lake so we can all enjoy it for generations to come. A small group of folks are putting forward a plan on what can be done. With some effort, the health of our lake can be improved, but we MUST choose to do something now.
Troy Lake is shallow and replenished only by inflow from rain runoff known as a “drainage” fed lake. We also know that the lake is eutrophic, in that it’s nutrient rich, giving it the green colour. Lakes do become naturally eutrophic over thousands of years, but human eutrophication expedites that process, and is what we want to mitigate.
Human eutrophication is the addition of extra nutrients (Phosphors, nitrates) as a result of human activity. Things like farming, septic systems, fertilizers etc.
The high level (1000ft) plan is the following:
- Find Help
- Fund the Initiative
- Environmental assessment
- Deploy Mitigations
Step 1 - Find Help
In the outset the group started by conducting independent research, looking for possible solutions. The group found lots of studies, similar situations and many commercial “solutions”. Mitigations included, dredging, oxygenation, application of special phosphorous absorption materials, and so on. The final outcome was that this is a complex problem and requires expertise beyond our collective abilities. Guesses could be made, at a cost, but would have no scientific or factual evidence that anything proposed would aid the lake, and may even make it worse.
It was determined that external help is needed. An environmental engineering firm that can do some hands on scientific work, is required to quantify the problem and provide mitigation solutions.
The group is currently in communications with a few groups, and obtaining some ballpark quotes to move onto step two.
Step 2 - Fund the Initiative
Our association is currently road centric, only dealing with things like road insurance, maintenance of the road etc. So this venture expands the definition of the “Troy Lake Ratepayers Association” and will require consent from members to be a reality and effective. Once we have found a suitable engineering consultant or firm, our next task will be to announce our intensions, and collectively fund the initiative.
There are over 30 cottages in this association and a small number on the north side of the lake as well. This is a problem for all lake residents and we need to collectively decide on how we want to address it. We truly hope that people will step up and help on this front.
Once we have a formal quote we will send out a communication and ask folks if they would like to move forward with this initiative - the cost to be divided equally among participants.
Step 3 - Run an environmental assessment
Once funding has been approved, we move onto running the assessment. We don’t yet know everything that will be involved with an assessment, but it will likely involve multiple individuals collecting water samples, and running tests at various locations on Troy Lake.
The complete process will be shared to the collective once we have a confirmed contract in place.
Step 4 - Deploy Mitigations
To be determined….
Research, Correspondence etc…
This is some of the research and correspondence the group has collected during the preliminary part of this initiative.
In water bodies that have high concentrations of phosphorus, harmful algal blooms proliferate, leading to water quality, health and odor issues. Phoslock is a lanthanum modified bentonite material that binds phosphate. It was developed in the early 2000’s by Australia’s leading scientific organization; the CSIRO. Phoslock permanently binds phosphate and forms a new inert mineral called Rhabdophane. The new mineral becomes part of the natural lake sediments. Phoslock removes excess phosphate from the water and in turn significantly reduces the growth of harmful algae. If excessive concentrations of phosphorus are left in a water body; algal blooms dominate and throw out the balance of the natural environment. Phoslock has been successfully applied to over 250 water bodies around the world.
Elizabeth (Liz) Favot
Elizabeth is a Phd Candidate at Queens University, that we have been in contact with, and has given us numerous leads to consultants to aid our search to helping our lake.
Elizabeth (Liz) Favot, BEd PhD Candidate Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory Department of Biology, Queen’s University
She has published some interesting papers including this one specific to algal blooms in remote areas. Climate variability promotes unprecedented cyanobacterialblooms in a remote, oligotrophic Ontario lake: evidence from paleolimnology
Conversation with Robert S. Snetsinger - Biology Associate at Queens University (Retired)
These are summarized notes from a phone conversation.
- We are on the right track at looking into our phosphorous levels, that is where he would start.
- He looked at the geology/contours in our area for obvious signs of inflow. Nothing stood out to him. There are a couple of farming areas close by that could be a potential source of phosphorus, he was not sure what farming was done.
- His gut feel is that we have multiple sources of phosphorus coming into the lake. Because our lake is not large and it is shallow, and other adjacent lakes don’t seem to have the same high phosphorus levels, humans are to blame. (Lake capacity) Based on the age of the area, the standards for septic systems were not really great. There are likely units that are too close to the lake or are not functioning properly. We should concentrate on making sure that septics are up to snuff on the lake. Due to our lake perimeter is basically rock, with very little soil you would be surprised how easily runoff makes it into the lake.
- Mentioned that human waste in septic systems are one thing, but soaps and fertilizers are horrible for lakes.
- He mentioned a name of a fellow “Bob Vasily” that runs a mine on highway 15 (seeleys bay) that mines wollastonite, and they have some research done on small scale for reduction of phosphorus. https://www.canadianwollastonite.com. He said that Bob is very approachable and might have some ideas on mitigation. See specifically https://www.canadianwollastonite.com/applications/environmental-uses/
Contact with Bob Vasily
To summarize they are interested in a collaboration with MNR. They seem to have some type of research program at Queens University
Harris Ivens BA BEd MSc @ Canadian Wollastonite
Please keep us closely in the loop, we would be very open to working with the MNR to look at how wollastonite could be used in lake systems to sequester excess phosphorus. There is a very active lake research program at > Queens, I will make some inquiries and let you know of any potential leads.
Wollastonite is a high-grade, mined calcium silicate with unique chemical and physical properties that delivers environmental and economic benefits on a wide range of industrial, ecological and agricultural applications.