Coordinators Meeting 2005-05-13

St. Joseph's Church, Kingsbridge
Saturday May 13, 2005
9:00 a.m. to Noon

There was broad representation at the meeting with 16 different member beach associations or groups attending. As well Council was represented by Ben van Diepenbeek (Reeve) and Marilyn Miltenburg (Councilor, Ashfield Ward).

A moment of silence was observed in memory of Geoff Walker who was a founding member of the Ashfield Lakefront Association before it became ACLA. Geoff was a strong environmental advocate and promoted and helped with the current stream testing program.

Financial

2004 Financial Statement

The financial statement for the past year, prepared by our treasurer Carolyn Carter, was approved. Member association contributions, which are our primary source of revenue, remained strong with 16 associations contributing. There were also several personal donations as well as a $1500.00 contribution from ACW Council.

Administrative costs were very low with all almost all of our revenue being directed to the stream testing program. We have a healthy working balance on hand, which permits us to proceed with confidence with the 2005 stream testing program.

2005 Fees

The fees for 2005 remain at $10 per year per member in each association. Fees can be sent directly to our treasurer:

Carolyn Carter
906 Baker Avenue South
Listowel, Ontario
N4W 3B7

Or

Ashfield Colborne Lakefront Association
Box 277
Goderich, Ontario
N7A 3Z2

2005 Spending Decisions

Spending decisions for the coming year were approved as follows:

  1. Continue current stream testing program even though lab costs have increased. Mike McElhone will pursue alternative sources of funding or alternative more cost competitive lab fees as he feels are appropriate.
  2. A $1000.00 contribution towards a “Stewardship Manual” for non-farm residents and cottagers. This project was initiated by the Friends of the Bayfield River with contributions towards costs coming from various sources. It will be available for distribution in 2006.
  3. To continue to pay for the ACLA Post Office Box $205.44 and to renew our web hosting contract and domain name (www.northwesthuron.com) for a total of $140.92.

Water Quality

Huron County Health Unit beach testing

Copies of the Huron County Health Unit beach water quality monitoring program were distributed at the meeting. HCHU encountered a number of delays getting the report issued.

Results vary along the Lake. Generally E.Coli levels were up in 2004 vs. 2003 at all locations. Ashfield Beach will be posted as "unsafe" for swimming for the 2005 season. Amberley Beach results were also very poor. On the other hand Sunset Beach continues to show very good results, although there were a couple of spikes in early and mid July. We continue to wonder why the HCHU cannot simply post the test results weekly on their website as they did until a couple of years ago. (Note: Their reasoning is complex and not without some validity. For information on this issue please consult the HCHU website or phone 519-482-3416.

Water quality guidelines require action to ensure that beaches near urban areas should be open 95% of the time. Why can this not be expanded to rural beaches?

Blue Flag

The "Blue Flag" program was briefly discussed. This program is based on international standards which certifies beaches safe for swimming if they meet the standard 80-85% of the time. Five beaches in Toronto qualify and Sauble Beach is applying for certification. Based on the HCHU results, our beaches (such as Ashfield, Amberley, Port Albert, and Goderich Main Beach) would not qualify.

E.Coli in the beach sand

Environment Canada has been conducting studies along several beaches in the Province, including Amberley Beach. Samples were taken in deeper water off-shore and showed low E. Coli levels. In the shallow waters adjacent to the beach, samples showed E.Coli levels consistent with HCHU beach-water-quality findings. Most surprising, however, was that core samples in the sand several yards in from the water's edge showed high levels of E.Coli. Then, further in, E.Coli levels dropped off again. The speculation is that E.Coli thrives in the sandy beach environment closer to the water's edge.

Stream Testing

Mike McElhone distributed copies of the 2004 Stream Testing Results prepared by the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority (will be posted on our website soon). This is our fourth year of stream testing and our cooperative arrangement with the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority. We have been told that our test results are an important part of the data base the MVCA is accumulating in regard to water quality. Key findings include:

  1. All streams were above the recreational level for E. Coli at least 44% of the time and one watercourse over 80% of the time.
  2. High levels of nitrate and phosphate were evident which are a major factor in algae growth along our beaches and can harm aquatic organisms were also found in many of the samples.
  3. As in other years heavy rainfall events contribute large amounts of bacteria in the streams.

Mike also distributed a list of local and provincial contacts to whom he had sent the stream testing results to ensure that our stream testing results have continuing impact.

Other Items of Interest

Website

As of this writing (end of June) our website www.northwesthuron.com has a new look. If you have not visited the site recently, please do so. You will find it informative, easy to navigate and most of all it loads quickly for those of you without high-speed internet connections. Our thanks go to Roger Watt for the terrific work he has done on the site.

Goderich

Goderich will receive a grant of $1.5 million which allow the town to complete the separation of storm and sanitary sewer and, most important, to upgrade the sewage treatment plant to eliminate the release of occasional partially treated sewage into the Lake during periods of heavy rainfall.

Nutrient Management Act

The regulations in Nutrient Management Act have undergone a major revision. These revisions have received strong endorsement from farming organizations. For details please see the news release and backgrounder.

Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation

Several individuals from ACLA member associations have volunteered to assist the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation in collecting various information on lakeshore conditions, such as wave action, wind direction, beach debris, weather, precipitation, water clarity and air and water temperature.

Huron County Septic System Re-Inspection Program

Pilot Program

A septic system re-inspection pilot program will be conducted this summer under the direction of the Huron County Health Unit. Based on a risk assessment analysis six communities in 4 municipalities have been chosen:

ACW:Amberley Beach, Port Albert
Central Huron:Bluewater Beach, Blacks Point
Bluewater:St. Joseph's Shore 1 and 2
Huron East:Egmondville

An Information session will be held in July for the property owners who will take part in this program.

There are an estimated 14,000 septic systems in Huron County and it has been estimated that 50% will need some form of repair (from pump out to full replacement). It is hoped that the experience gained with the pilot program will facilitate a county wide re-inspection program which will then serve as a model for province wide re-inspections.

ACLA has consistently called for septic system re-inspections for the past three years. It seems that our efforts are finally bearing fruit.

An Informaiton Meeting?

There was strong interest for a summer information meeting such as was held last year in Goderich, which was organized by the Friends of the Bayfield River with assistance from ACLA. A focus on alternative septic systems was suggested. A number of attendees offered to show their newer systems as on-site working examples.

Wind Turbines

We understand that 22 wind turbines will be erected this year by Epcor in ACW Township. Epcor has also bought Port Albert Wind Farms (which owns the existing turbine near Port Albert) and with it, according to newspaper reports, 12,000 acres of land leases in ACW which could possibly result in another 150 turbines being built in the future.

While the 22 turbines being constructed this year are all located east of Highway 21 it is reasonable to assume that some future turbines will be located west of the highway.

Township

Taxes

2005 Taxes will increase by $120 for each $100,000 of assessment. The main reason for this increase is the 17% increase in the county portion of our taxes which now is 46% of the total tax. The other two components are 30% for the township and 20% for education.

For 2005, property assessments have been frozen at 2004 levels as the province shifts from a June 1 cutoff date to January 1.

Roads not maintained by the Township

Roads maintained by lakeshore associations were discussed. Currently the lakeshore property owners pay a hefty portion of property taxes (appr. 50%) of the total township budget. In ACW, some lakeshore association fund the entire maintenance of the un-assumed roads leading to the lake. However, Bluewater Township (to the south of Goderich), when faced with a similar situation, has provided some funding to the associations. Some members expressed interest in forming a team to organize a brief to council. If a group has a strong interest in initiating this effort, please send us email. Your email will be distributed to the ACLA Communications Coordinators to find associations with a similar interest. This could be a difficult sell to ACW Council, but if successful would provide an annual benefit to some ACLA member associations. Reeve Ben Van Diepenbeek agreed that roads-inventory information could be made available by Roads Superintendent Kevin Cook.

Next Meeting

The next annual spring ACLA Business and Information meeting is scheduled for Saturday May 13, 2006, in the basement of St. Joseph's Church, Kingsbridge.

Note: The Steering Committee will meet Saturday April 29 at a location yet to be determined.

Comment -- ACLA is having an impact!

ACLA's stream-testing program and associated promotion has got attention at the local, provincial, and federal level and has helped focus attention on water quality on Lake Huron beaches, and specifically on Huron County. The stream-test data has been acknowledged to have a high level of integrity and is an important piece of the overall water-quality information.

Another example of ACLA's effectiveness has been that ACLA has been the catalyst for the implementation and acceptance of a septic system re-inspection program in Huron County.

ACLA volunteers are helping to collect information for the Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation to better understand the many factors that affect our beaches.

Finally, ACLA provides member associations with information that helps them to be more aware and to shape those things that might impact us now or in the future.

Prepared by Dave Cooper.