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Lake Huron e-news - March 2013

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This months headlines...
Water. You Gotta Love It.

Water. You Gotta Love It.

March 22 is World Water Day. It’s a day to sit back and reflect on how we use water. In fact, take it one step further – Environment Canada has a “Water Calculator” to allow you to calculate how much water you typically use.

North Americans are notorious water hogs. We consume water like it’s, well, water. We who live next to the Great Lakes have this water abundance that is the envy of the world. When we stand on a beach, we look out over a seeming endless sea of fresh water. But compared with other OECD nations, Canada ranks second in the amount we consume on a per capita basis (US is first).

daily-domestic-water-use - Canada 2
(Source: Environment Canada)

Not surprising. On any given day we can see signs of water waste. Probably even in our own homes. I remember walking down the street last summer, in the midst of a drought, and seeing the odd island of green lawn. [That’s right water-hog neighbours, you’re busted!] In the middle of a hot dry summer, people were still obsessing on having the perfect lawn. This disconnect, between water as a precious resource, and excessive water use, is remarkable.

We tend to undervalue this resource, we tend to overuse it and, in some cases, abuse it. There is a price for it: billions and billions of dollars to clean up or prevent pollution. Sooner or later it presents us with a bill. In many cases we pay less than the actual cost of processing and delivery.

Evaluating our overuse of water begins at home. Compared to other countries, we pay very little to have water delivered to our kitchen and bathroom faucets. Canadian households use twice as much water as European ones and pay less than half as much for it.

municipal-water-prices - Canada vs world
(Source: Environment Canada)

Rural residents connected to a municipal water system have a higher per capita use of water than urban residents (StatsCan). What’s unnerving about this statistic is that many rural residents operate private septic systems. That’s why we’ve been appealing for years to Lake Huron (& Georgian Bay) cottagers to conserve water use. Overtaxing a septic system can not only reduce its lifespan, but contribute to the nutrient enrichment of groundwater and the lake. (Nutrients feed plants like algae).

For a well operating septic system, it’s important to minimize water use in order to keep solid sludge well settled on the bottom of the tank. Excessive water flowing into the septic tank, from overuse of toilets, laundry, dishwasher, showers, and baths, can cause the sludge to be disturbed and allow the solids to pass out of the tank and into your distribution box. These solids can clog your distribution box, your drainfield pipes and even your drainfield. ( LBW)  Avoid excess water use. Using too much water is the single biggest reason for system malfunction. (OSU)

This World Water Day, give some thought to your own water use. It may be time to reconsider your relationship with water, and the Great Lakes.

More on Canadian water consumption
Participate in Canada Water Week - March 18-24
Canada water week 2013



Buffer strips are vegetated areas of land used to intercept runoff before it can enter into local water ways or the lake. Vegetated buffers have been widely used by farmers to reduce pollution from agricultural related activities. They provide a naturalized barrier to slow stormwater run-off allowing it to slowly percolate through the buffer, infiltrate into the ground, and thus provide sediment removal. The vegetation also acts as a filter to remove nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorous. Studies of buffer strips indicate some effectiveness at bacteria removal too.

Coastal buffer strips are a low maintenance way to improve water quality associated with cottage runoff.  Sites with higher permeability soils (like sand) and more vegetation will reduce runoff rates to a greater extent. Coastal wetlands, sand dunes and woodlands are great filtration buffers that can help reduce lake pollution.
Kincardine dunes Aug 2003
Dunes filter polluted water flowing to the lake.

More information at Buffers Protect the Environment

Want to plant a buffer? Check out the Centre's Dune Planting Guide

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Share Your Pot O' Gold
{No, not the chocolates.)

Irish Toast
'Tis better to spend money like there's no tomorrow than to spend tonight like there's no money!
In honour of that wisdom, spend some money in the form of a donation to the Coastal Centre. We're always working for healthy beaches. Like the capital of Ireland, our efforts are always Dublin. (Ya, that was too corny even for us).

You can donate online through CanadaHelps, or send a donation cheque by mail. For more information on donating to the Centre, visit our donate page.

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