Newsletter from Friends of the Tay Watershed July 2004

Message from the Co-Chairs

This newsletter will provide you with an update on the activities of the Friends of the Tay Watershed during the first six months of this year and early notice of some of the upcoming initiatives.  Your Board has been busy pursuing the Association’s goals and working on water and watershed issues at the local and provincial levels. 

We are pleased to welcome Lynn Preston back to full time work with Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA), as the Watershed Planning/Community Monitoring Co-ordinator.  Lynn was the driving force behind the development of the Tay River Watershed Management Plan and its supporting studies.  She is already busy facilitating work with lake associations and studies by summer students.  Welcome back Lynn!  ([email protected])

On the other hand, we regret that Board member Cathy Hamlen has had to resign from the Board as she is moving.  Cathy has been our technical wizard, managing both our website and the formatting of the newsletter.  We are very grateful to her for the time she took training on web management, in order to bring better skills to the Friends’ website.  We wish Cathy and her family well in BC.

Cathy’s move leaves the Association in need of someone to manage the FoTW website.  We can arrange training - which Cathy has advised is easily acquired.  If you think you might be interested in this, kindly contact one of the co-chairs. 

The ‘Friends’ are also in need of volunteers for short-term projects - such as staffing our ‘Maplefest’ booth - or helping with the ‘Pitch-in’ water edge clean up.  If you’d like to organize a ‘Pitch-in’ clean up in your local area to coincide with this national initiative, please let us know.

We hope that you are enjoying your part of the watershed this summer be it your permanent or seasonal residence.  We’d be pleased to hear your thoughts and priorities for the watershed.  You can reach us through the FoTW email at [email protected] or directly through our personal email addresses.

Finally, and not least, if you have not renewed your membership since last summer, please consider doing so.

Best wishes for a happy summer.

Your co-chairs,

David Taylor    [email protected]  

Carol Dillon      [email protected]

Friends of the Tay Watershed - Newsletter

FoTW Receives Annual Rideau Valley Conservation Award 

We are pleased to advise that the ‘Friends’ have been awarded the 2004 ‘Conservation Award’ of the Rideau Valley Conservation Foundation which is presented annually for voluntary work in improving the health of the Rideau Valley watershed.  The nomination came from the Rideau Environmental Action League (REAL) for, amongst other activities, ‘developing, and assisting with the implementation of, the Tay River Watershed Management Plan’.   

Second Implementation Meeting on the Management Plan

Implementing the Tay Watershed Management Plan is one of our primary objectives.  This second implementation meeting was organised and hosted jointly with the RVCA, in April.  Once again it received strong support with over thirty watershed stakeholders, from federal and provincial government ministries, local municipalities and counties, industry, and associations, including the Perth & District Chamber of Commerce. 

In these meetings, we review progress on the 24 recommendations of the Management Plan, and, particularly, to document gaps to be addressed in future activity.  The reports from the various stakeholders will be placed on the FoTW web site. 

A great deal has been accomplished on the Management Plan to date.  For example: lake associations are moving ahead with sub-watershed plans and studies; Tay Valley Township is carrying out septic re-inspections; Lanark County has reduced the amount of salt it uses on winter roads to mitigate runoff problems.  Under the ‘Friends’ education program, Carol Dillon has provided local schools with watershed maps and information materials and Orion Clark has worked with the RVCA to produce watershed geology maps.  

Lake Management Plans

The Tay Watershed contains 46 lakes, some of which are now embarking on lake or sub-watershed management plans.  The development of lake management plans is one of the key recommendations of the watershed management plan.  The FoTW encourages these and, with one of the lake association groups, is investigating the availability of grants to facilitate them.

Work on lake plans is now underway on Greater Bobs and Crow Lakes, Otty Lake, Long Lake, and Little Silver and Rainbow Lakes.  Karen Hunt, Otty Lake President and FoTW Board member, has organised joint lake management planning workshops for a number of local groups to begin to explore some aspects of the process.

If your lake has not yet embarked on lake/river planning, we urge you consider it - contact Lynn Preston at RVCA.  There is help available to start, but the initiative must come from your group.

Cam McLeod, FoTW Board member, from Long Lake, reports that property owners in the area face increasing challenges in protecting and preserving their lake property and lake resources.   Amongst other problems, zebra mussels have now been identified in nearby Otty Lake; many residences on Long Lake (43%) were broken in to in 2003; noise and disruption from PWCs is increasing; septic systems are aging and need replacing or upgrading; algae and weed growth has increased; and E. coli. is a concern and little is known of the lake’s carrying capacity.  

The Centre for Geographic Information Systems (CGIS) in Perth has been working with Otty Lake, Long Lake, Tay Valley Township, and the Frontenac Environmental Partnership to input data into the CEP (Community Environmental Partnership) information management system.  This system will provide valuable data for planning and decision making in these two areas.

Water Legislation and FoTW Participation

Water quality has received considerable attention recently, due largely to the Walkerton tragedy.   The Ontario Government is instituting the Walkerton Report recommendations to improve water management in Ontario, through a number of new or amended Acts, including: ‘The Safe Drinking Water Act’; ‘The Nutrient Management Act’; the ‘Source Water Protection Act’, and reforms to the ‘Land-Use Planning Act’.   The primary objective is better management of water resources in Ontario with increased emphasis on conservation.

In addition to changes emanating from Walkerton, the agreements among the Great Lakes’ basin states and provinces are up for renewal and will be under review for the next two years.  The Great Lakes may seem distant from the Tay Watershed, but we are part of that basin and decisions affecting Great Lakes water transfer, bottling, and clean up efforts may well influence what happens on our own water doorstep in the future. 

As a watershed organization, the Friends of the Tay are generally pleased with all this attention on water.  The proposed source protection legislation is particularly friendly to our objectives and puts into law many of the principles supported by watershed organizations for years.  For example, the new Source Protection Act and reforms to Land-use Planning propose to:

manage  water on a watershed basis

use Conservation Authorities as the lead authority in each watershed

 develop and use tools such as water budgets for better water management.

One outcome of all this attention on water, is what is being called a rural backlash against the new water legislation.  Unfortunately, there is a tendency on the part of the general public to see all of this legislation as one initiative and thus the good things sometimes get condemned along with the not so good.  For example, there are the legitimate concerns of rural churches, daycare centres, campgrounds, etc. with the prohibitive costs of bringing private, rural water systems in line with new safe drinking water standards.   No one disagrees with the concept of safe water, but the added costs associated with some of the proposed changes create hardships for small businesses and community groups that need to be addressed.   

The FoTW have been active in commenting on these changes.  Board members have participated in province-wide conferences on the proposed changes, bringing a rural, eastern Ontario and watershed perspective to the proceedings.  We have deemed this participation as essential because the source water protection legislation proposes a much larger role in water management for individual watersheds and will be in place for many years to come.

Currently, there is a 60-day comment period concerning the proposed Source Water Protection Act. (Summary of proposed legislation at http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/envregistry/023184ea.htm   - Environmental Bill of Rights Registry # AA04E0002).  Members and lake associations are encouraged to submit their comments by the August 22 deadline.  The current attention to water issues will set in place regulations that will affect water management for many years to come.  The government is seeking public opinion and your comments will help produce the kind of regulations that we would want for our lakes and rivers in the future.

The ‘Friends’ will also be submitting comments on the Ontario Land-use Planning reforms.  Information on this is available at <www.planningreform.Ontario.ca> - the ‘Strong Communities (Planning Amendment) Act, 2004’.  (This Act also addresses mineral aggregate resources.)

Recent Activities of the ‘Friends’

In the first six months of this year. the ‘Friends’ have carried out a wide range of activities, including:

·        Organized, in cooperation with the RVCA, the second ‘Tay Management Plan Implementation Meeting’, (Carol Dillon, Lynn Preston, David Taylor, Perth, April 7);

·        Presented information booths and tables at:

o       ‘Maplefest’, Perth (Orion Clark, Perth, April 24)

o       ‘Well Aware’ Forum, Perth (Sue Brandum, David Taylor, April 28)

o       World Environ’t Day Fair/Workshop, Sharbot Lake (Carol/Mel Dillon, June 5)

o       Otty Lake Association’s AGM, Otty Lake (Carol Dillon, July 10);

·        Provided submission to the Ontario Provincial Government ‘White Paper on Source Water Protection’ (Carol Dillon, April);

·        Participated in the Source Water Conference, and follow up exchanges, of the ‘Water Action Group’ of the Environmental Non-government Organization on the Ontario Government’s proposed legislation for this issue (Carol Dillon, April 12);

·        Promoted participation in the Pitch-In Spring clean-up program, by encouraging local organizations - including Perth schools, ecoPerth, the Legion and services clubs to become involved, with excellent results (Marilyn Devolin, April 19-25);

·        Attended RVCA's WIX meeting in Manotick to on use of the the new watershed website (Frank Roy, June)

·        Tour of the upper watershed Meisel Woods Conservation Area and attendance at RVCA Board of Directors’ meeting (several Board members, June 24);

·        Cooperated with the Perth and District Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Committee in planning for a Tay Walk along the river in Perth and increased public use of the lower Tay and Canal area (David Taylor, July 12 and ongoing);

·        Participated in conducted tour of the Mississippi River, sponsored by Lanark Stewardship Council (several Board members, July 13);

·        Participation in workshop on Ontario Government Proposed Reforms to Land-use Planning Act submission to follow (David Taylor, July 20);

·        Completed our program of providing watershed maps to all area schools (Carol Dillon, Orion Clark, July);

·        Participated in several water and environmental committees including:

o       The RVCA Upper Advisory Board (provides community input on the upper Rideau Valley watershed)

o       The Steering Committee of the RVCA ‘Rural Clean Water Program’ (to upgrade active wells and decommission old ones, repair septic systems and enhance farmyard water protection).

·        Supported the ‘Well Aware’ program, and its Public Forum (Perth, April, attended by 85 people) and the ongoing 'Well Aware' Guided Self Assessments - a project of REAL, delivered by LLGreen;

·        Commenced a sign installation program for turtle crossing areas in the watershed (Orion Clark);

·        Commenced a review of potential funding sources for a grant for selected watershed projects (David Taylor).

In addition to the foregoing, your association has continued to:

·        Promote the concept of a Discovery Centre in the Perth basin

·        Maintain and upgrade our website as an information source

·        Respond to numerous telephone, e-mail and mail requests for information on the watershed and water legislation from residents, ministries, university students, etc.

Upcoming Events of the FoTW

In the coming months, the ‘Friends’ will be involved with the following events:

-         Submission and follow up to the Ontario Government Water Source Protection Act legislation review (Carol Dillon, July)

-         Submission and follow up to the Ontario Government Proposed Reforms to Land- use Planning Act (David Taylor, August)

-         Meeting with Bobs and Crow Lake Association, and government officials, on their lake management plan (David Taylor, Cameron MacLeod, August 6)

-         Investigating sources of grants for various watershed projects, in cooperation with

several lake/cottage associations (Karen Hunt, David Taylor, August 3) 

-         Review of alternative sources of insurance for non-profit associations (an ongoing issue, due to increase in cost of insurance) (David Taylor)

Flash News and Information on the Watershed:

·        Our new CD ROM of Tay Watershed Information and Maps will be available to the public in early August.  This is a comprehensive library, on one CD, of information on the watershed, including the technical reports, the management plan, watershed maps, and water resource data (contact [email protected]).

·        Comprehensive, on-line information on the Tay, on area watersheds and on Ontario’s water resources is available at the following sites:

o       At the ‘Friends’ site: www.tayriver.org, we are continuing to add Tay watershed-related data and information.  

o       http://www.rideauvalley.on.ca/watershed/index.html, a Rideau Watershed Information System/repository for planners, community groups, etc.; will include: water quality, quantity, groundwater, aquatic habitat, and watershed planning.

o       http://www.oen.ca/dir/ - the Ontario Environmental Network provides an environmental portal, with access to directories, a search guide and related environmental research materials.

o       http://www.cgiscentre.com - Centre for Geographic Information Systems website.

o       http://www.watersheds.ca/ - Centre for Sustainable Watersheds site. 

o       http://www.rideau-info.com/local/local_links.html - a comprehensive Rideau watershed information site.

·        Residents of Perth could be interested in the consultant study of the Haggart Island Dam reconstruction, which is due out in September (Perth Town Hall).

Management and administration Finally, and not least, our thanks to Orion Clark for his ongoing work as Treasurer and also Membership chair; to Jan Forsyth, our accountant; and to Helen Park for her efficient management of our membership lists.   

Signed:

Your Co-Chairs           Carol Dillon                              David Taylor