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Celebrate your Lake - reduce your wake - on world enviroment day

Steps We Can Take To Protect Our Lakes

With June 5 being World Environment Day, and with the arrival of warm weather, swimming, boating and cottage season are now here. And with the start of summer our water needs to be protected if we're going to keep enjoying it.

Right now, many of Ontario's lakes are impacted by phosphorus. It enters our water from a variety of sources - our homes, our farms and our industries. Phosphorus is actually a nutrient, but too much of it harms lake water because it causes excessive plant growth. When this growth decays, it consumes oxygen that fish need to live. Excessive plant growth also interferes with recreational activities on the water - anyone who has had their motorboat or fishing line caught in the weeds can attest to that.

What can you do? Here are some ways you can help lower phosphorus levels:

1. Reduce soil erosion; when the soil washes into the water, so does phosphorus. Watch your boat wake around shorelines.
2. Look after your septic tank and make sure it is functioning properly.
3. Reduce runoff from your property. Naturalizing our shorelines and streambanks with trees and shrubs helps reduce runoff and soil erosion.
4. Use phosphate-free detergents.
5. Use a more environmentally-friendly method of fertilizing your garden. Instead of fertilizer, try compost.

If we all adopt these simple steps, we can go a long way to improving the conditions of our lakes. Environmentalists, communities, farmers, industries, governments and individuals are also trying to reduce how much phosphorus gets into our water. A scientific panel appointed by the Ontario government has been asked to recommend a new program to clean Lake Simcoe, one of our most important recreational waterways. It's the first step that will lead to new rules for keeping the Lake clean and protecting it - rules that will be drawn up after consulting with everyone who lives or works near the Lake or enjoys it.

Charlotte Wilkinson, Communications, Ministry of the Environment

Charlotte Wilkinson,    5/21/2008


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