Friends of the Tay Watershed

Newsletter - February 2003

    Friends of the Tay Watershed Volume 2, Issue 1
    February 2003

    Friends of the Tay Watershed is a non-profit charitable association of residents, associations, and
    other organizations interested in the welfare of the Tay River watershed, located at the top of the
    Rideau Valley watershed in eastern Ontario, Canada.

    We welcome your comments or questions.  To contact us:
    e-mail:  [email protected]
    Internet address:
    Telephone: (613) 264-0094
    Fax: (613) 264-9066

    Newsletter Editors: Cathy Hamlen (613) 264-2051, [email protected]
                                 Carol Dillon (613) 264-0680, [email protected]

    Welcome to the third edition of the Friends of the Tay Watershed newsletter. 

    The theme of this newsletter is looking back and looking forward.  It features reports and articles that describe accomplishments and activities for 2002, and plans and projects for 2003.  Please take a few minutes to read the newsletter to keep informed about what is happenings in your watershed.

    Index of Articles


    • International Year of Freshwater
      The UN has declared 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater.  This world-wide program promises to draw attention to freshwater and provides a special opportunity for the FoTW to focus awareness on our local water.
      The goal of the UN program is "to raise awareness and promote action on managing and protecting clean water resources".  This goal is meaningful no matter where you live in the world.
      UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan describes water as "the world's most precious resource" and stresses the importance of "improving stewardship of the water resources" - the same aim as the Friends of the Tay Watershed.  This international event encourages all of us to think globally and act locally in enhancing stewardship for the water closest to us.
      Watch for upcoming events that highlight and celebrate the International Year of Freshwater.

    • Reporting Well Problems
      The Association has recently been informed of several problems with wells in the Tay River watershed experiencing reduced flow or, in one case, complete loss of flow.  These reports have come mainly from one area of the watershed, and we are wondering if other wells have been experiencing similar problems.
      Given the changing conditions in the watershed, it would obviously be of value to record and track any well problems.  To this end, we are asking members if they have experienced or heard of well flow problems in the past 6 months and to pass along any information on the location.  Please contact either David Taylor (264-0094) or Carol Dillon (264-0680).
      Anyone passing along information will be listed to receive information or reports generated from this, should they wish.  If conditions warrant it, the Friends of the Tay Watershed Board will consider setting up a committee to handle monitoring and any necessary action.  This is being done in cooperation with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority with whom we will share the information.

    • Memberships Now Due
      Memberships in the Friends of the Tay Watershed Association are now due.  The fees, $5.00 per individual or $10.00 per family, are a small investment in the ongoing welfare of the watershed.  Your membership fee helps pay for the Association's running costs such as stationary, postage, hall rental, photocopying, etc. so that the volunteers can carry on the stewardship role.
      If you haven't purchased your 2003 membership card, please contact Orion Clark, our new membership officer, at 267-4939 or [email protected].

    • Friends of the Tay Watershed Now Has Charitable Status
      One of the important achievements of Friends of the Tay Watershed last year was the incorporation of the organization and achieving charitable status.  This means that receipts will be given for donations or donations in kind, and such donations are eligible as a charitable donation for tax purposes.  We hope this new status will encourage more donations to help meet the objectives of the Association, and we will be soliciting donations more actively in the coming year.

    • Email Addresses
      If you have changed your email address in the past year, would you please send a message to the Friends of the Tay Watershed at [email protected].  Some emails are being returned as "addressee unknown" so we are eager to update our emailing list.

    • Events
      Check out our updated Events page.

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    Advocacy and Action

    People who choose to become members of an organization such as the Friends of the Tay Watershed (FoTW) are usually people who already have an interest in the watershed and/or environmental issues.  Through affiliation with FoTW, that interest is nurtured and strengthened.

    The mandate of the Friends of the Tay Watershed is:
           to provide leadership in managing the health and welfare of the Tay River watershed,
           such that it meets the present and future needs of the community through research,
           natural resource management, environmental protection and balanced, sustainable
           and economic development.

    This is a broad and positive statement that can be set into action in many ways.  Some may provide leadership through a donation so that others may carry out the objectives on their behalf.  Others may take a more active role within the organization - perhaps serving on the Board of Directors.  Others may show leadership by investigating particular issues relevant to the health and welfare of the watershed.

    Your Board has supported in 2002, and will continue to support, legitimate activity required to ensure that the long term health of the watershed is being protected.  During 2002, this required that the Board and Association assume a pro-active role in supporting the decision of the Environmental Review Tribunal on the OMYA Permit to take water from the Tay River.  In appealing the ERT decision, the company has challenged several important clauses in the decision that would ensure complete transparency of, and community participation in, the monitoring of this and future major water permits.  It is not well known that the FoTW, and three other community organizations, are listed in the ERT Decision to receive information on the water withdrawal from the Tay River.  This subject was explained in more detail in our last newsletter.

    On occasion, individual members of the FoTW will identify an issue of particular concern to them, and will engage in action and advocacy for this issue.  The Association benefits from these actions through better understanding of the issues, increased information about the watershed and enhanced liaison with responsible agencies.

    However, the public often has difficulty in distinguishing between actions undertaken by members as individual citizens and actions taken by Friends of the Tay Watershed Association.  The Association cannot and should not support all initiatives undertaken by individual members.  The difficulty is one of consensus and timing.  FoTW represents many different areas, interests and points of view.  Sometimes issues involve conflicting points of view.  In order to maintain a broad base in the community, your Association has tried to avoid "taking sides" on any issue that is divisive in the broad community of the watershed, unless it carries serious implications for the health of the watershed which cannot be ignored.  In addition, for FoTW to declare support for an issue requires consensus from the Board of Directors - a task which often cannot be accomplished quickly enough to meet the time constraints of an ongoing issue.

    FoTW has tried to reach a balanced compormise in this important area.  Individual members are free to act and advocate on any issue as individual citizens.  They may state that they are a member of FoTW, but must get Board agreement to state they represent the Association.  In this way, the Board recognizes individual rights and freedoms, the need for advocacy, and the responsibiility of the organization to all of its members.

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    Report on the Annual General Meeting

    The 2002 Annual General Meeting of the Friends of the Tay Watershed was held on November 13, 2002, at the Perth Public Library.  Approximately 65 people attended.  The meeting began at 7:00 pm with a "meet and greet" so that those attending could enjoy refreshments and view a variety of related environmental displays.

    The following tables and displays were featured:

           Entrance Table - staffed by Barbara Erb, Janet Taylor, and Cathy Hamlen

           Membership Table - staffed by Orion Clark (24 memberships signed, $225 in revenue collected)

           Literature and Comments Table - staffed by Cam MacLeod and David Crowley
                  (Included copies of the Tay Watershed Management Plan and
                  Watershed and Environmental Comments by guests)

           Rideau Valley Conservation Authority Table - staffed by RVCA personnel

           REAL/LL Green Table - staffed by Susan Brandum

           Water Permit Display - staffed by Don Boyle, Frank Roy, and Carol Dillon

           Lanark County Stewardship Council Table - staffed by Jeff Ward

           EcoPerth Table - staffed by Alfred von Mirbach

    A short business meeting followed which reviewed the Association's activities in 2002, discussed plans and priorities for 2003, and appointed a new slate of officers for the Board of Directors.  These three items are reported in more detail in other parts of this newsletter.

    Special presentations on ongoing activities in the watershed were made by the following people:
           Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
                   - Matt Craig (Environmental Planner) spoke about planning and shoreline work
                   - Bruce Reid (Water Co-ordinator) spoke about the multi-year
                         Tay Watershed Plan and the Clean Rural Water Program
                   - Lynn Preston (Watershed Planner) spoke about Watershed Watch.

    A panel moderated by Cam MacLeod addressed the importance and development of sub-watershed plans.  Joe Slater (Bobs and Crow Lakes Association) spoke about their three-to-five year lake management project.  They have hired a student from Carleton University to design a survey to be used with 1200 residents next summer to determine their vision for the lakes.  Reg Genge, an independent expert on lake assessments, spoke about his study for the Perth Utility Commission (waterworks) on the water source - the Tay River between the municipal intake and Christie Lake.  Reg also spoke about his work in developing a lake management plan for Charleston Lake.  Bob Sneyd spoke on the role that the Lake Links Program and the Centre for Sustainable Watersheds could play in developing lake management plans.

    Cam MacLeod reviewed progress towards developing the concept of a Discovery Centre, which would be an important centre of information and focus for the renewed Perth Tay Basin.  A site location in the Tay Basin has been approved by the Town of Perth and funds have been requested through the Provincial OSTAR Development program.  An attractive log building is being sought for the multi-function watershed information centre.  The "off-site information" system would provide a publically available data base system for the watershed, with links to other organizations.

    As the meeting was running considerably over time, Kevin Esseltine reported briefly on the fisheries study carried in Christie Lake in spring 2002.  He will be holding an information night in Perth in February to discuss this in more detail.

    Because of the large number of often similar programs operating in the watershed, it is the Board's intention to produce a list of these as a guide available for landowners.  This list is being developed for circulation at a later date.

    The meeting adjourned at 10:10 pm.

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    2002 Tay Watershed Awards

    A new initiative for the Friends of the Tay Watershed this year was to recognize contributions to the stewardship of the watershed by individuals and groups.  Three categories of awards were presented this year:

    • Contribution to the Environment
      Presented to Lynn Preston, RVCA, for her guidance of the Tay River Watershed Management Plan over a four year period, leading to the successful completion of the Plan, and also, the commencement of several activities proposed in the Plan, including the inception of the Friends of the Tay Watershed Association.

    • Contribution to the Watershed
      Presented to the Citizen Appellants and Participants who appealed the Permit to Take Water from the Tay River, issued by the Ministry of Environment to OMYA (Canada) Inc.  The Appellants' intervention resulted in an Environmental Review Tribunal decision which provided, amongst other elements, for the community participation in the management of local water resources, and the inclusion of municipalities and community groups including the FoTW, Greater Bobs and Crow Lakes Association, the Lanark County Citizen's Action Group, and the Perth Community Association in Scheule A of the permit.  The ERT decision also recognized the need to follow an holistic watershed approach in assessing the impact of major water-takings.  The Appellants were Carol and Mel Dillon, Michael and Maureen Cassidy, Sulyn Cedar, Ann German, Eileen Naboznak, Kathleen Corrigan, and the Council of Canadians.  The participants were Greater Bobs and Crow Lakes Association, and the Perth Community Association.

    • Support to the Watershed
      Presented to three potters in the watershed, Jackie Seaton, Rita Redner and Glenn Gangnier, for their contribution through the sale of "Taycups" as fund raisers for the citizen appellants, and also for their "Empty Bowls" project in the community in aid of the Food Bank and Youth Action Kommittee.

    The award consisted of a certificate of appreciation for each individual/organization.

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    Board of Directors - 2003

    We are pleased to introduce the Friends of the Tay Watershed Board of Directors for 2003.  We will continue in our goal to have all areas of the watershed represented on the Board of Directors.  The Board meets four times a year and had its first meeting January 14, 2003.

    • Don Boyle (Pike Lake)
    • Susan Brandum (REAL LL Green; Port Elmsley)
    • Sulyn Cedar (Lanark Citizens Group)
    • Orion Clark (Christie Lake)
    • Wayne Conboy (Agricultural community)
    • David Crowley (RVCA, Town of Perth)
    • Marilyn Devolin (Town of Perth, Tay River)
    • Carol Dillon (Glen Tay, Tay River)
    • Barbara Erb (Glen Tay, Tay River)
    • Cathy Hamlen (Town of Perth)
    • Martin Hiltz (Farren Lake)
    • Jim Humphrey (Little Silver Lake)
    • Cameron MacLeod (Town of Perth, Long Lake)
    • Joe Slater (Greater Bobs and Crow Lake Association)
    • Robert Sneyd (Centre for Sustainable Watersheds)
    • Christopher Stone (DeWitt's Corners, Tay River)
    • David Taylor (Glen Tay, Tay River)

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    Activities in 2002

    In the first newsletter of 2003, it is a good time to reflect on the activities and accomplishments of the past year.  It has been a busy year with lots of achievements and firsts.

    The Association's activities in 2002 were based on the directions established by the membership in the first annual general meeting in November 2001.  These directions requested that the Board, acting in the role of an Interim Board:

    • recommend the structure for a permanent Board and the Association
    • develop plans and objectives for the future work of the Association
    • assist in the completion of the Watershed Management Plan, and
    • begin to develop programs and projects to implement the Plan recommendations.

    The Board and many of the Association's volunteer members have had an extremely busy year in carrying out the above mandate.  In summary, in 2002 the Board of Directors:

    • organized or participated in 10 major local public events, such as festivals, conferences, and annual meetings
    • assisted in the completion of the Tay River Watershed Management Plan
    • initiated 6 projects to commence follow up to the Plan
    • made technical presentations to various authorities on behalf of the watershed, and
    • supported the Environmental Review Tribunal decision providing for community input to major water-taking permits.

    A primary objective of the Assocation has been to develop a unified voice in the watershed of the numerous associations and other organizations concerned with its welfare.  A first step has been made towards this in the past year, as the Association finalized membership exchange agreements with 16 lake, cottage and resident associations and other organizations that are interested in the long term protection of the watershed.  These assocations represent well over 700 seasonal and full-time residents, and their families.  Thus, many projects will continue to be cooperative efforts between one or more organizations with similar objectives.

    In 2002, Board meetings were held on January 28, April 10, May 2, and August 29.

    It is estimated that over 50 volunteers contributed to various activites and events of the Friends of the Tay Watershed (FoTW) this year, especially assisting with EcoFest and the exhibits at MapleFest, Bobs Lake AGM, and the Tay Valley Township open house.

    It is not possible to recognize all members and volunteers who contribute to the Association. However, special thanks to:

    • Helen Park of Glen Tay for organizing and maintaining our membership and mailing list, including computerizing it
    • Jan Forsythe of Balderson who kindly took over the books and accounting for the Association last summer
    • Cathy Hamlen of Perth who has done double duty - designing and publishing the newsletter, and learning the intricacies of web site design with which she has updated and ammended our website.

    We achieved charitable incorporation status, effective January 1, 2002.  Thanks to Donald Rasmussen and Chadwick Boyd of the law firm of Rasmussen, Starr, and Ruddy in Ottawa - with considerable input from Orion Clark and David Taylor.  This was not a small accomplishment, especially in such a short time, and will be of great value to us when we decide to pursue grants, donations and other financial assistance for projects.

    The FoTW Association was formed to carry out the recommendations of the Tay River Watershed Management Plan and, for the past four years, many of our Directors and members have contributed to its development.  The Plan was released in June, at the Tay River EcoFest, and has been a focus of the Association's activities since then.  Copies may be obtained from the Association and RVCA.

    Our first booth in MapleFest was a great success - in the exposure, interest and support received, and even memberships sold.  Thanks to the organizers of MapleFest who gave us a street site on the bridge overlooking the Tay River.

    The FoTW again participated in the organization of EcoFest and this year also provided financial management for it.  Although attendance was not large, those who came were enthusiastic in their support, and the events were both educational and a lot of fun.

    FoTW member, Sulyn Cedar, organized a FoTW presence at the Stewart Park Festival that included presentations on the watershed and the river.  The Board will consider the possibility of moving the EcoFest venue to the more central location of Stewart Park and a partnering with the Stewart Park Music Festival for next year.

    The FoTW table at EcoFest, in cooperation with the Tay River Legal Defence Fund, also received good support and interest.  Any proceeds from EcoFest will be directed to providing maps and information on the Tay River watershed to a number of the schools in our watershed.

    Carol and Mel Dillon and Sulyn Cedar staffed a table at the Tay Valley Township Open House in July to provide information on the watershed and management plan.

    At the invitation of the Greater Bobs and Crow Lakes Assocation, the FoTW presented a table and information on the management plan and our activities.  This fits the priority the FoTW is placing on cooperating with, and promoting other associations throughout the watershed.

    Because of efforts directed to other activities, the Association did not participate in the Perth Fair in 2002.  It has participated at this event for five years (1997-2001) with excellent results, but decided to try other events this year.  We might re-consider the Perth Fair for next year.

    Carol Dillon made a presentation to the Ottawa session of the Ministerial Committee on the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Her comments, noting gaps in the Act addressing groundwater and water source protection generally, were well received by the Committee and Minister, as well as other related agencies.

    Carol Dillon also responded when the Ontario Environmental Network (of which we are members) asked the FoTW for a speaker at its AGM, held in Lanark this year.  Carol spoke about using the Environmental Bill or Rights.  A number of our Directors and members also attended.

    David Taylor addressed the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority's Upper Board (which covers the upper Rideau system) and also its executive board to seek support for the establishment of a one-stop board or agency to manage the Tay River watershed.  This is an important recommendation of the Watershed Management Plan, aimed at eliminating the confusion and overlap in the management of the watershed's water resources.  The RVCA Board did not support the idea at the present time.

    A number of our Directors also served on related committees and agencies, in some cases in the name of the Association.  These include:

    • John Miller - Tay Valley Township representative to the RVCA,
                          Chair of the RVCA Executive Board
    • Cam MacLeod - alternative Tay Valley Township representative on the RVCA Upper Board
    • David Crowley - representative for Perth on the RVCA Upper Board
    • David Taylor - member of RVCA Review Committee for the Clean Water
                            and Rural Water Program

    The FoTW assisted in organizing and some members participated in the annual RVCA Tay River Canoe Trip in the Spring.  Special thanks to John Miller who stood waist deep in the cold spring waters to ensure a safe passage for all canoes around the tricky, fast water at Bowes Bridge.

    Orion Clark, Don Boyle and Chris Stone assisted the RVCA in a macro-invertebrate sampling program demonstration with PDCI students at Pike Lake and Glen Tay.

    Cam MacLeod has vigorously promoted the concept of an information and learning centre in the re-built Tay Basin in Perth.  The "Discovery Centre" concept has gained considerable support and has potential to receive funding under a provincial grant.

    FoTW assisted Marilyn Devolin in developing a planting day with PDCI students on the river edge at the Senior Citizens home on Harvey Street.  It is hoped that this will eventually become part of a larger project to address problems of water quality in the Tay River at Perth.

    The Association, through Cathy Hamlen, has continued to pursue a water quality monitoring program in Perth.  Discussions were held with staff from the Perth Municipal Water Board regarding daily and monthly water quality testing at the Water Treatment Plant.  Cathy is looking into modelling opportunities in cooperation with the Minicipal Water Board and Town of Perth.

    FoTW Board member, Joe Slater, has been assembling water level data for Bobs Lake and Crow Lake from historical information, in a two year project.  The material will be included in the Environment Canada database for this area.

    FoTW assisted Mike Campbell from Carleton University in a study into water replenishment of Christie Lake from non-river sources.

    FoTW Board member, Orion Clark, attended a nutrient information conference as part of the on-going program to monitor this area of serious concern in the Tay River watershed.  Check out the previous newsletter for information on this topic.

    FoTW Board member, Cathy Hamlen, took a training program in web design and has re-built the FoTW website.

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    Proposed Activities for 2003

    1.   Build and maintain FoTW Association through the following activities:
    • promote membership
    • pursue funding sources as required
    • continue developing the Board and committee structures of the Association
    • seek partnerships with other organizations, associations, agencies and ministries
    • seek membership exchanges
    • request exchange with RVCA Board for a membership representative on the
      Upper Board
    2.   Education and Information:
    • maintain a base of information on the watershed and related subjects
    • monitor selected information sources, including websites (eg. Ontario Environmental Network, H2Oinfo, Environmental Bill of Rights)
    • promote awareness and knowledge of the watershed, the Watershed Management
      Plan, FoTW Association and its work with the public and local schools
    • possible participation in events such as MapleFest, EcoFest (in conjunction with
      The Stewart Park Music Festival), International Plowing Match, winter evening
      speakers, and cooperative events with lake associations promoting the watershed
    3.   Recommendations from the Tay River Watershed Management Plan:
    • select activities that FoTW might carry out alone or in partnership, including
      Education, addressing "hot spots" in the watershed and promoting a Perth
      "Swim Again" program, and formulate goals
    • promote development of a Discovery Centre in the Tay Basin
    • endorse and assist with Sub-Watershed Management Plans
    • cooperate with other organizations, including lake associations and the Centre
      for Sustainable Watersheds, on selected priority areas
    • organize water level and water quality monitoring teams throughout the watershed,
      in cooperation with RVCA.
    4.   Call for volunteers:
    In order to progress on the objectives outlined in the Tay River Watershed Management
    Plan, people are needed to help with the following:

    • Management Plan Implementation
    • Education and Public Awareness
    • Information/Communications
    • Archives
    • Emergencies and Opportunities - Reactive Committee
    • Memberships
    • Fund Raising
    The Board will investigate the potential for inviting representatives from the following
    agencies as ex-officio members of FoTW Board of Directors:

    • Rideau Valley Conservation Authority
    • Ministry of Natural Resources
    • Ministry of Environment
    • Department of Fisheries and Oceans
    • Parks Canada
    • Ministry of Agriculture and Food.