The Watershed Series
Storm sewer Pollutants remain constant concern
Editor's Note: The following article is a cooperative effort of the Bayfield Blue Community Team and the Bayfield Storm Sewer Monitoring Program that is supported by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority. It is the first part of a two part series.
A satellite image of the algae bloom on the Great Lakes. The green and light blue/green denotes algae. Note that it is prominent near Bayfield. (Submitted photo)
Fifteen years ago, studies were undertaken to establish a benchmark database of E.coli and phosphate flows from some Bayfield storm sewers into Lake Huron. Recent studies have demonstrated that little has changed over the intervening period.
This is a two part series designed to provide understanding of the problem, the evaluation process and to present alternative solutions. While the outflow of these potentially harmful contaminates is not regarded as critical, recent and past studies have determined that the results exceed recommended guidelines.
PART I: THE ISSUE
Understanding Escherichia coli (E. Coli): E.coli are fecal coliform bacteria commonly found in the intestinal tract of warm-blooded animals. The 2014 monitoring data provided by the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) says “while E. coli itself is not a threat to the environment, its presence in water collected from drains [and other bodies of water] may indicate contamination by other harmful bacteria, viruses, or parasites that are associated with animal wastes. Sources may include human, pets, livestock and wild animals.”
The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care (OMHLTC) established a recreational guideline for E. coli of 100 colony-forming units (cfu) per 100 mL.
E. coli is an essential organism to humans. The harmless strains are part of the normal flora of the gut, and can benefit their hosts by producing vitamin K2, and preventing colonization of the intestine with pathogenic bacteria. E. coli can live on a wide variety of in anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions such as in water and soil. The disease-causing E. coli strains live in the intestinal tracts of animals that ruminate, such as cows, deer and goats.
Scientists have established the fact that the dog’s gut harbors a particular type of bacteria known as the coliform bacteria. This bacterium includes the dreaded E. coli bacteria that cause symptoms of gastrointestinal disorders in humans and the fecal coliform bacteria. Dog feces also contain strains of salmonella and giardia (infection caused by a microscopic parasite). Although certain strains of the E. coli bacteria benefit dogs as they prevent the formation of pathogenic bacteria in the intestine, some strains are known to cause hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS) in humans. HUS is a severe illness that may lead to a complete loss of renal (kidney) function.
Values in bold denote concentrations that exceed Provincial Water Quality Objectives (PWQO).
E.coli readings were taken from three storm sewer drain sites in Bayfield during the summer of 2015. These sites on Colina, Tyull and Delevan Streets are the end points of ditches and pipes that begin near Hwy. 21 and flow to the lake. Of the 39 tests taken, 70 per cent exceeded the provincial guidelines of 100 cfu/100 mL. (cfu = colony forming units).
Understanding Phosphates: Phosphorus occurs naturally in rocks and other mineral deposits. During the natural process of weathering, the rocks gradually release the phosphorus as phosphate ions that are soluble in water. Phosphates have multiple uses. They can be found in fertilizers, detergents, water treatment facilities, as fire retardants in fabrics, for fighting fires, in building materials like drywall, in pottery and oven proof bake wear, for cleaning metal and in paper production.
Values in bold denote concentrations that exceed Provincial Water Quality Objectives (PWQO).
Seventy per cent of the readings for Total Phosphorus exceeded the Provincial Water Quality Objective of 0.030 mg/ml when samples were taken from the three storm water monitoring sites draining into Lake Huron along the Bayfield shoreline.
Note: Complete data for above charts can be found at
We all play a part in polluting. Water burdened with excessive phosphates is unattractive, creates unhealthy beaches and seriously impacts aquatic species. It is estimated that just one pound of phosphorus in the water will produce 500 pounds of blue-green algae.
At home we find phosphates in toothpaste for tarter control, mouthwashes, bath salts, cosmetics, vitamins and many more products. It is disingenuous to then place full responsibility for the phosphate presence in the rivers in the lakes solely on the backs of the agricultural industry. Keep in mind that 45 million folks discharge water, laden with phosphates, into the Great Lakes.
Residuals from products that we use at home go down the drain. From there they enter the sewage treatment plant. The treatment plant may reduce the impact of phosphates but some residual material will enter the lake. In studies of the major Lake Erie plume, the source of the phosphate has been attributed jointly to farm fertilizer runoff and emissions of phosphates along the Thames River from community sewage systems.
Lake Huron is not pristine. Satellite imagery shows an extensive algae plume that extends from the St Clair River to Kincardine extending at least 1 KM off the shoreline. What we do in Bayfield is either part of the problem or part of the solution and for the moment it is part of the problem.
What the Experts Say: Matt Pearson, Planning Group Leader for B M Ross Engineering, provided data from storm drain phosphate and E.coli testing done in 1997. These studies preceded the installation of communal sewers. The results from these earlier studies are similar to the results from 2014-15 tests. He indicated that recent and past results are representative of other results along the coastline.
Mari Veliz Healthy Watersheds Supervisor at ABCA, and her colleagues, view the results as a wakeup call. The ministry sets standards for a reason and if both E.coli and phosphate readings exceed these standards 70 per cent of the time they feel we should be concerned and act.
Part II of The Watershed Series, "Problems and Solutions" will appear in the next issue of the Bayfield Breeze.
Last summer, volunteers Sandy Scotchmer, Kate Lloyd-Rees and Erica Clark signed up to collect water samples from stormwater drains along the beach at Bayfield. (Submitted photo)
Interested in being part of the solution? Contact Sandy Scotchmer of the Water Monitoring Team by email at email@example.com or visit the Blue Community Website and contact any of the Blue Community Team http://www.bayfieldbluecommunityproject.com/
Editor's Note: This series is based on an article that first appeared in the Nov. 1 edition of "The Paper" published by Cheryl Heath. The original article provided data on the coastline beyond Bayfield in addition to Bayfield.
CONCERN OVER VARNA WATER PROVES UNFOUNDED
BY KEN LARONE
The plan to connect the Varna water system with Bluewater’s system has been put on hold.
During last week’s budget discussion Bluewater council was told water in the Varna system was polluted in one of two wells that service the community. The news shocked Bluewater Council.
The news was wrong.
It took almost four days for council to be sure the Varna well water was safe to drink.
Councillor Dave Roy was sure the information was wrong. He had been drinking the water for years. He knows most people in the village because he has represented them on Bluewater council for years. In that time no one had complained to him about polluted drinking water.
As of Jan. 11, Mayor Tyler Hessel, Deputy Mayor Jim Fergusson and Bruce Grant, acting CAO for Bluewater, are sure the well water is safe to drink.
Last year council agreed to connect Varna with the Bluewater water system. More than 50 homes and businesses are involved. The cost was expected to be around $400,000 or about $8,500 for each household.
Last week council got into the possible Varna water problems as part of the budget discussion.
After the stunning news of possible polluted water Fergusson sent an email to Grant complaining, “I spent eight years on the Lake Huron Primary water system, two as vice chair and two as chair. The lack of information provided yesterday caused alarm to myself and also to two members in the gallery.”
He added, “There seems to be a pattern of insufficient information which is a risk for our decisions.”
Grant replied, “I agree you received partial information on this matter…because it is currently a private system the operator is required to report ‘treated water’ quality to the health unit but not the ‘raw water’.
“The bacteriological issues are not e-coli. I understand the treated water has been consistently acceptable,” noted Grant.
The mayor agreed with Grant’s explanation but wanted more information. Hessel spoke to the county health unit about the problem last week. He believed a third party expert should be hired to evaluate the system for Varna residents as well as the municipality.
Hessel says he wants more time to discuss the problem with residents and system operators. The cost to Varna residents may increase and it may be a problem for them to switch to Bluewater water if it becomes more expensive for them.
The mayor expects council to continue to focus on the Varna water needs as council evaluates its budget options.
Editors note: Ken Larone, Geordie Palmer and Dave MacLaren are members of Bayfield Ratepayers who regularly attend Bluewater Council meetings.
Cash incentives to butt out
Quitting smoking is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. And it’s not too late to start – for the rest of January there is a contest that will help you stay motivated so you can reach your goal. And, you could end up winning big!
For young adults and post-secondary students of all ages, “Leave the Pack Behind’s wouldurather… contest” features two grand prizes of $2,500 each. There are categories for people looking to quit, to cut back or to stay smoke free. The contest is open to young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 and post-secondary students of all ages. Register by Jan. 24 at www.wouldurather.ca.
“Quitting is a process, not an event, and it’s important to get support,” said Public Health Promoter Sam Docherty from the Huron County Health Unit. “Not only is joining the ‘wouldurather contest’ a good way to make a quit attempt with friends, family or peers for the chance to win cash, it’s also effective in helping smokers to quit.”
The Health Unit wants to support Huron County smokers in their quit attempts. For more information on local quit smoking supports and services available, please contact the Huron County Health Unit at 519-482-3416 or toll free at 1-877-837-6143.
Donors improve circle of care
The upcoming expansion of the Bluewater Area Family Health Team (BAFHT) clinic at 43 Main Street in Zurich will go a long way towards meeting growing health care needs. This significant capital project, set to start in early 2016, will more than double the clinic’s footprint and transform the facility into a comprehensive health care hub with 13 examination rooms, an exercise area, and a meeting room for health and wellness workshops.
The BAFHT expansion is being funded in part by a $1.48-million grant from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. But $600,000 more is needed to deliver on the goals of the project. With the holiday season now in full swing, BAFHT is calling on everyone in the Bluewater area and in surrounding communities to contribute to this important effort to build a bigger and better BAFHT.
There are several ways to contribute, from Circle of Care donations of between $1,000 to $25,000 – which will be recognized with a plaque at the clinic – to room sponsorships, in-kind donations, legacy gifts, and Friends of BAFHT gifts starting at $10. BAFHT can also customize a sponsorship plan that aligns with a donor’s philanthropic goals.
A donation to the BAFHT expansion project is a gift that will pay dividends for years to come, for everyone in the Bluewater area and beyond. Making a gift is easy: just e-mail Administrator, Ann Brabender at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (519) 236-4413.
An Adult Coloring Club has started at the Bayfield Public Library on Wednesday afternoons. (Submitted photo)
Adults have recently learned what children have known for years, coloring is both relaxing and fun! In keeping with this popular trend, the Bayfield Public Library is hosting an Adult Coloring Club on Wednesdays from 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Grown-ups are invited to attend and add a splash of color to their week. Folks can bring their own coloring supplies or choose from supplied coloring pages and available pencils!
Saturdays at the Library
Friends of the Bayfield Library (FOBL) are once again offering up their “Saturdays at the Library” series starting with a morning with local wine aficionado Richard Fitoussi at the Bayfield Public Library.
Fitoussi, who has long been associated with the hospitality industry and is a consultant on the development of wines in Huron County, will provide an informative presentation on evaluating wines and how to pair them suitably with cheese at the library on Jan. 23. The session will run from 10:30 to noon.
The Bayfield Historical Society (BHS) will hold their Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Dinner, catered by the United Church Women, on Jan. 25 at noon at St. Andrew's United Church.
Author Barbara Brown, of Bayfield, will be the guest speaker at this event. The fact that artists have been attracted to the village for generations was the inspiration behind the book, “Reflections of Bayfield” created by Brown and fellow author Joyce Lambert. Brown and Lambert assembled a collection of art, in several genres, that otherwise would never be available for the public to enjoy as they were in private collections. Brown will share their experiences in assembling and producing this book at the AGM.
All are welcome to attend this event. Tickets are available now for $20 and may be obtained by calling Pat or Bud Langley at 519 565-2894.
The New Year is a great time to start a new activity or get reacquainted with an old favorite. For this reason folks are invited to lace up their skates and head to the Bayfield Arena.
Skating is offered free to the public on the afternoon of Jan. 17 from 1-3 p.m. due to the generosity of sponsors Brian Coombs Remax Reliable Realty and Jim, Christy, Ashton and Wesley Sherratt.
“One of this weeks ice sponsors is a well known business in Bayfield. And we thank them very much for their continued support,” said Ron Keys of the Bayfield Arena Community Partners Association (BACPA). “Our second sponsor is a family that has recently moved to Bayfield. On behalf of the BACPA I would like to thank the Sherratt family for their generosity and welcome them to the village.”
In addition to public skating on Sundays there is now more time available for youngsters who love to be out on the ice. Due to popular demand, ice time is now being offered on Mondays at 7 p.m. for kids’ pickup hockey. New players are always welcome.
town hall cabaret
“Bayfield at the Oscars” is the theme of the Bayfield Town Hall’s fifth annual cabaret to be held on Feb.12-13.
The movie theme should provide attendees with a great evening of fun and frolic. Seating is cabaret style and there will be a cash bar at this fundraiser. The curtain will rise at 7:30 p.m. both evenings. Those who wish to attend are advised to get their tickets early, as the cabarets are always a sell out with only 90 seats available for each night.
Tickets are available now for $20 per person. Please contact Pat Lewington at 519 565-2202 or Margo Robeson at 519 565-2827, to reserve tickets early.
Treat your sweetheart to some warm, comfort food on Feb. 14th at the annual Bayfield Town Hall’s Soup’s On event.
Local restaurants and community organizations will compete for the bragging rights of tastiest soup voted on by the people in attendance. This event will begin at 2 p.m. and winners will be announced shortly after 4 p.m.
Anyone who would like to participate, or has questions, are invited to please contact Patricia Baker at 519 955-1456.
milk bag mats
Students from Huron Centennial School display some of the milk bag mats and knitted items they have made. (Submitted photo)
Students at Huron Centennial School in Brucefield are taking part in the Homeless Connect initiative weaving sleeping mats for the homeless in Toronto using milk bags. Donations of 100 per cent acrylic yarn would also be appreciated.
The group of 25 youths has to date made almost three-dozen mats but to keep the momentum going they need more clean, 4L milk bags. It takes 100 to 125 bags to make one mat and about three hours to complete one.
Currently there is a drop off location for these bags at the Nip N’ Tuck and the library in Bayfield and people are encouraged to save them from their recycling box and drop them off.
As the initiative grows the young people hope to make mats for homeless veterans and supply other agencies in cities like London with them as well.
bluewater budget challenges
BY KEN LARONE
Bluewater Council is challenging its staff’s proposed 2016 municipal budget that would raise taxes more than 33 per cent.
Council spent eight hours at a special budget meeting last week analyzing and arguing about items in the budget that should be cut or saved. Later this week council hopes its municipal staff can recalculate their numbers that will show a substantial reduction in the proposed 33 per cent.
Before Christmas council knew the total tax increase could be 10 per cent higher than 2015 taxes. When Manager of Finance, Ansberth Willert showed her numbers to council last week, council knew it faced many tough days of debate because voters would not accept a 33 per cent increase in taxes.
Councillor John Gillespie, told his colleagues, “I think we have a long ways to go.”
Back in December council started speculating on the size of the 2015 shortfall of revenue to cover costs. The guestimates by council ranged from $600,000 to $800,000.
On Dec. 1, council held its first 2016 budget meeting. Councillor Gillespie told the meeting some of the administration staff were not showing financial control because there were too many surprises in the 2015 budget.
At that meeting Councillor Bill Whetstone said, “Staff should warn council” when they see potential problems. At that time council was trying to solve a surprise Hensall debt of $450,000 on two problems - its town hall restoration and its polluting dump.
The combined increase in cost by Ontario Provincial Police and Ausable-Bayfield Conservation Authority will be $650,000 for Bluewater tax payers. This increase adds 6.5 per cent to the municipal taxes by the provincial government that Bluewater must accept.
Councillor George Irvin said the Bluewater tax problems started back in 2014 when it couldn’t control its budget and the debt was over $193,495.
Deputy-Mayor Jim Fergusson asked council to start looking at ways to divide funding expensive projects across two-or-three years. The storm sewer project and rebuilding the Main Street of Bayfield was one of his examples.
“It tells residents that council has put the project on its priority list,” he explained. “If project grants come available from the feds or province we may get some funding help for our priorities.”
Gillespie supported the idea. Some gravel roads south of Bayfield could be assumed by the municipality for snow plowing, grading and keeping the roads in good shape with gravel.
The deputy-mayor also asked council to take a hard look at the cost of trucks, graders and plows.
“The low Canadian dollar will cost us much more to replace some of our equipment,” he added. “It may be a good reason to investigate contracting out some of our work.”
Mayor Tyler Hessel said the cost of cutting down hundreds of dead trees in the next few years could cost more than $l00, 000. It could become a surprise budget cost if council doesn’t estimate the total cost now.
Electronic speed-controlled signs seem to be needed in some specific locations throughout the municipality. The mayor asked staff to look at solar mounted devices because they can be moved to a variety of locations.
BIG DONATION FOR LITTLES
The Docks Restaurant & Bar in Bayfield held a fundraising event in November and designated the proceeds from this event to Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Huron (BBBSNH). Colin Corriveau, owner of the restaurant, recently presented a cheque for $1,500 to Elaine Osborne, executive director of BBBSNH. Osborne stated that the proceeds would directly benefit youth within the community. On hand for the presentation were Little Sister Megan and Little Brother Danny. BBBSNH is a non-profit charitable organization meeting the needs of youth between the ages of six to 16 years. (Submitted photo)