Lake Scugog Q&A’s

The Lake Stewards asked their Facebook readers to give us questions that we might be able to answer for them about the lake. If you have any questions either send us a note to scugoglakestewards@gmail.com or bkarthein@yahoo.ca, or message our Facebook page. We will answer and will post it here on our website. We will not use your name in our posts.

QUESTION #1 – CAN A GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING BE HELD ONCE A MONTH IN THE EVENINGS?

2016-07-07-06-27-33-640x480Every year we ask our directors when would they prefer to have meetings, every year we get a reply that they like them late in the afternoon finishing in time to have their evenings free — this is both those who have jobs and those that are retired but put in endless hours during the day at meetings about going forward on our various projects. Most of the time we are the only ones at these meetings who are not paid.

The Chamber has graciously allowed us to use their board room once a month free of charge. It is not large. Our agendas are packed with detailed work that would be very difficult to do in a large meeting. Yes, open membership meetings would be great for greater communication, but we would have to have a second meeting to actually get the scut work done. We are, however, always open to communication and will send you our minutes and agendas should you wish. Just let us know. We will, however look into a minimum of one fall meeting, our AGM meeting and perhaps one in the early summer.

QUESTION #2 – WHAT CAN WE DO TO KEEP MORE WATER IN THE LAKE? This question was sent in by e-mail.

This is a huge question and believe me, the Stewards are following it up 100%. A total study of the Lindsay Lock/dam site has revealed 5 sources of water loss.
scan0068-3+ The DAM – but it is relatively tight and was closed this year on May 25 — its max. height 250 m. above sea level.
+ The LOCKS — busy throughout the summer, mandated by the Trent-Severn, Parks Canada. Max height – 250 m.
+ The 60 ft. or more long SPILLWAY next to the dam to prevent flooding. Height: 250.07 m. Two inches above the dam only.
+ The old MILL — this water was dammed approximately 50 years ago with a max. height of 250 m. but its logs are 50 years old and leaking, and there is considerable flow under the mill dam.
+ LINDSAY WATER INTAKE. This was new to us and we are following up. Two 24 inch water intake pipes on the Lake Scugog side of the dam that provide water for the whole town of Lindsay take considerable water out of the lake year around. The bigger Lindsay gets the more water it will draw. Its out-take is on the other side of the dam.

What we have found (see www.scugoglakestewards.com) is that water cannot be stockpiled beyond the 250 m. above sea level. It will either go over the locks, the dam or the mill and if it goes higher to 250.07 it will go over the massive spillway. Recognize too that all building around the shorelines of Lake Scugog is built keeping that 250 m standard in mind. We are working closely with the TSW water engineer to base management of the dam on winter snow pack, watershed soil saturation and predictions of Environment Canada for the summer. We are also working with MNRF to change their protection of spawning areas in the lower Scugog river area to considering the spawning area of the whole of Lake Scugog therefore allowing logs to be placed in the dam sooner.

Over and above that, the Stewards are part of a Low Water Response team of senior level folks from Kawartha Conservation, MNRF, the Townships including City of Kawartha Lakes (Lindsay), Agriculture Canada, — even including the Golf Course Association, to try to work out regulations for water use and restrictions that would also help Lake Scugog in years of drought like this one.

We are working hard to follow up on all these points and will do our best for you in the future. Picture 1 is of the whole site and picture two is of the Lindsay water spillway.

QUESTION # 3 IS LAKE FOAM THE SIGN OF POLLUTION IN OUR LAKE?

2016-09-14-02-34-45-640x480Lake foam is most often seen on a very windy day when the surface tension of the water is reduced and air is mixed in, forming bubbles. It is probably not an indicator of pollution. It is a natural process that would have been going on before settlement around the lake.

Old synthetic detergents of the 50’s and 60’s had surfactants in them that caused foaming, sometimes in huge quantities. By law now, all detergents must be biodegradable and quickly lose their ability to cause foaming.

All lakes contain organic matter, such as algae and plants, and when these decompose they release natural cellular products (surfactant) into the water which lessens the surface tension. When the wind blows, the waves on the lake agitate this surface agent and create sudsy white foam. Currents and boats also mix air with the organic compounds present in the lake to produce foam. On windy days, foam collects in large quantities on windward shores or gets stuck on surface growth of plants.

Natural foam has a somewhat earthy fishy aroma and may have an off-white, or taupe color. Detergent foam in contrast will have a noticeable perfume smell.

QUESTION # 5 – I USED TO SWIM OFF MY DOCK ALL THE TIME, NOW I CAN’T? WHY NOT?

This is a complicated question so bear with me. First, it must be stated that ALL lakes fill in eventually but obviously at different rates. Our lake is such now that 1 ft. of water level drop makes a huge difference.

Our lake is surrounded by soft, nutritious soil, farms and housing. The natural phosphorus and nitrogen in the soil has been added to through years of fertilizer applications on those farms and properties.

Until recently the main credo of civil engineering and public works was to “take water away” and that meant feeding rainwater as quickly as possible to neighbouring culverts, streams and ultimately the lake. Unfortunately it meant that, instead of percolating into the soil to replenish groundwater, it developed volume and speed enough to gather up a load of silt, sediment, nutrients from the watershed and 2015-04-10-05-45-01 take it, untreated, right into the lake!

This was a double barrelled problem, not only do all the open and hidden culverts around the lake bring in soil and grit, it also brings in all sorts of nutrients – fertilizing the lake to produce overwhelming plant growth. This plant growth has its season of impeding recreation, then it falls to the bottom and decomposes to create more nutrition. It also creates a soupy muck that when tested this year was over 90% water.

What can you personally do to slow down this process? Unfortunately the solutions are not easy or cheap. Percolate water into the ground on your property using low soakaway areas or rain gardens and therefore remove direct pipes or swales to the lake. Plant buffer strips of native plants, shrubs and trees to hold back and absorb nutrients and silt. Pump out your septic system regularly and do not use fertilizers on your lawns. Make your shoreline erosion proof and have buffers both on the shoreline and in the water to keep back the nutrients, pollutants and the heavier solids.

Support the Township’s drive toward stormwater ponds, engineered wetlands, buffer strip planting, tree planting and more. When budgets are prepared it is important to make sure that each year stormwater infrastructure and regular clean outs are supported – not only in urban areas but all around the lake.

Ideally, each road around the lake should form a street action group to study how their own community might be adding to the problem, then slowly but surely, fix those problems. If you want help; Kawartha Conservation, the Township or ourselves would be very pleased to give some counsel.

Drought conditions as experienced this year are a totally different thing!