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REDSTONE LAKE COTTAGERS ASSOCIATION

Protecting Your Lake
Bitter, Burdock, Little Redstone, Pelaw & Redstone
RLCA Logo

RLCA

Protecting Your Lake
Bitter, Burdock, Little Redstone, Pelaw & Redstone

Fall 2017 FOCA Meeting

Note to the RLCA Board of Directors on the Fall 2017 FOCA Meeting – held at the Boulevard Club in Toronto on November 4, 2017

I was privileged to attend the 2017 Fall FOCA Meeting held on November 4, 2017.  Terry Rees, the Executive Director opened the meeting with a short update on the current work being undertaken by FOCA.  This includes climate issues, such as the flood events in cottage country, a workshop and report on climate change in Muskoka and invasive species monitoring and prevention programs.  New signs were made available at the meeting which direct boaters to clean boats before entering from other lakes to avoid transfer of invasive species.  Terry also spoke of organisations FOCA is working with, such as NSERC Canadian Network which is conducting in depth sampling of over 700 lakes in Canada to assess the health of our lakes.

For me, the highlight of the meeting was the presentation by Alex and Tyler Muffin, who call themselves “The Water Brothers” ( http://TheWaterBrothers.ca ).   Alex has a degree in International Development and Environmental Studies from Dalhousie University and Tyler is a grad of UBC with a major in film production.  He is an award-winning videographer and director.  The brothers work together and have produced several series for TVO over the last five years.  They grew up cottaging on Georgian Bay and now chose to work on fresh water issues.  You can catch their work by going to their website and the TVO website.  Here is some information from their presentation that made me stop and think:

  • Canada has 20% of the world’s supply of fresh water, but most of the watersheds in Canada flow to the artic, and what we use is from only 7% of the world’s supply
  • 3% of the water on the planet is fresh water and most of that is locked up in glaciers, which flow into the oceans that are being seriously polluted
  • 30% of the 3% is ground water but we are using that up in an unsustainable way—the aquafers in India and the Northern China plain are being used up rapidly and we will see massive water refugees from that loss
  • 1% of the 3% is surface water
  • There are no new sources of water, except perhaps from asteroids which would not be desirable.  So, the water we use has been here forever and what we have will be used by future generations
  • Desalination is very energy intensive and you still have the salt to deal with after the process
  • Re-using waste water will be important—Israel is a leader in this, re-using 80% of its waste water for agriculture.  The Brothers made a video for TVO on the NASA water recovery system.  In the future we will need to re-use our waste water, and therefore it is necessary to ensure that it is not contaminated
  • Climate change is having an impact—too much water in some places and none in others.  Without water there is no agriculture, which results in movement of people and unrest.  Agriculture uses 70% of our water and that will have to change.  Too much water means flooding which often results in major dumps of raw sewage into our lakes because the sewage systems cannot handle the excessive water.
  • As glaciers melt they produce power, but by the end of the century 90% of all glaciers on earth will be gone.  The snow pack is our main water bank and if we get rain instead of snow then we have flooding issues. 
  • There are experimental lakes in the south west corner of northern Ontario where studies of the impact of climate change are taking place.  (See the Water Brothers video:  On Thin Ice, which is available on their website.) The air temperature has increased by one degree since the 1960s and we now have 2 weeks per year less ice cover—Lake Superior is the second fastest warming lake in the world.
  • The warming of the lakes impacts the fish—lake trout are pushed further down where there is less food to eat.  As a result, they are becoming smaller and have more difficulty reproducing and hunting.  Warmer lakes allow other species to do well—such as the Asian carp
  • Pollution from plastics contaminates water and at least one half of the plastic sinks.  The Pacific Ocean and the Great Lakes now suffer from plastic pollution, which takes the form of a “soup” found throughout the water column.  Plastic can act as a sponge, absorbing heavy metals and toxins.  The fish and the sea birds eat the plastic and the pollutants in the plastic accumulate in the fish.  80 % of plastics in the water come from the land and 20% come from people travelling on the water. 
  • The Great Lakes have millions of little plastic pieces in them.  Lake Ontario has the most because they flow from the other great lakes.
  • Micro beads (plastic) found in tooth paste and cosmetics are now banned, but they are finding their way into the lakes.  Sani wipes are being flushed because they are marketed as “flushable” although they are made of plastic.  Fleece clothing contains a lot of plastic and the fibres come off in the wash, are not caught in the septic systems and end up in the lakes.   
  • Changes required—it is not good enough to shorten the length of our showers or to use less water when we brush our teeth.  We need to be thinking about the bigger picture.  For example. it takes about 1 year of showers to produce 10 hamburgers.  It takes 8,500 litres of water to make a pair of jeans.  Changes in what we eat and what we wear can save water and affect the quality of our waste water.  More importantly we need to make sure that young people are aware of how precious water is, and are interested in finding ways to ensure that this non -renewable resource is preserved for future generations.  The Water Brothers are focussed on doing this, using their video skills, knowledge, energy and sense of humour.

The balance of the day was spent talking about how to increase membership in Lake Associations, how to engage younger members and what gaps there are in skills that are preventing Associations from achieving these goals.   Group discussions occurred at each table and the discussions were summarized and presented to the entire group.   The summaries are available from the FOCA Event Summary posted on the FOCA website at https://foca.on.ca  I will print and bring the lists to the next board meeting so that the board can be sure it is doing everything it can reach our membership goals.

A panel discussion with 3 analysts who described specific experiences in engaging younger members and optimizing volunteerism in their organizations followed. 

The day ended with the presentation of a FOCA video project called “Lake Associations” made by a graduate student Chelsie Xavier-Blower.  Here is the link to the video:  https://foca.on.ca/lake-associations-a-video.

Barbara LeVasseur

Secretary, RLCA

16 December 2017
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