Communications Coordinators meeting, 2011-05-14

09:00-12:00 Saturday May 14, 2011
St. Joseph's Church basement, Kingsbridge

Coffee available 08:45

Attendees and invited guests

ACLA Communications Coordinators and designated alternates

attending from: Amberley Beach, Cedar Grove, Maple Grove, Menesetung, Mid-Huron Beach, Port Albert North, Shamrock Beach, Lakeland Estates, Huron Sands, Huron Shores.

not attending: Ashfield Beach, Birch Beach, Bogie's Beach, Brindley Beach, Buchanan's Beach, Goat Trail, Green Acres Cove, Horizon View, Huron Sands North, Kingsbridge Shores, Kintail Beach, Lake Huron Resort, Linfield Beach, Martin's Point, Port Albert, Sunset Beach, Victoria Beach, Vogel's Beach.

Invited guests

ACW Council: Ben Vandiepenbeek (Reeve), Connie Black (Councillor, Colborne ward)
Huron County Health Unit: Dr. Nancy Cameron, Bob Worsell
Maitland Valley Conservation Authority: Phil Beard
Huron Geosciences: Brian Luinstra

09:10 -- Opening remarks, introduction of guests (Roger Watt, Huron Sands)

On the file card provided, please identify the most important item that you want to see addressed at this meeting. We will discuss any items not already covered in the "other issues" closing session.

09:15 -- Pursuing the problems of pollution from runoff (Nigel Bellchamber, Amberley Beach)

A 2009 UoGuelph/MOE research report showed that agricultural runoff is the dominant source of E.Coli in the area surrounding the outflow of the 18 Mile River watershed. Nigel presented an analysis of HCHU beach-testing data showing that two public beaches in the Bayfield area have above-limit E.coli levels less than 20% of the time, but the other public beaches in the County have above-limit levels 40-50% of the time. Over the last year, representatives of ACLA, BSRA, and BRA have held several meetings with officials of MOE and other ministries, seeking to establish a project to mitigate the effects of runoff into our streams. Additional information will be presented in the MVCA Update session (see below).

09:35 -- Huron County Health Unit update (Bob Worsell, HCHU)

Beach water-quality monitoring

The beach-water-sampling monitoring reports for recent years are available at the Beach Water Quality section of the HCHU website. The focus for 2010 is on communicating results in a timely fashion (website, information phone line, and Twitter).

Septic-system inspection program

Huron County Council has approved the Health Unit's proposal for mandatory septic-system inspections. The next step requires approval by a majority of the nine lower-tier municipalities, which must represent a majority of the County's population. It is expected that that will happen and the program will start operation in 2012. HCHU will hire ten summer students, who will be trained as certified septic inspectors by the Ontario Rural Wastewater Centre at the University of Guelph. The cost of staffing and operating the program will be covered by adding a $31 fee to the annual property-tax bill in each participating municipality.

The program will operate on a cycle that will inspect every one of Huron County's 14,000+ septic systems every five years. The starting priority will be properties for which there are no records on file with HCHU, properties within 100 meters of a municipal drinking-water wellhead, lakefront properties, and properites with systems more than 20 years old. High-tech systems (such as Ecoflo, etc) will be exempt from inspection as long as the owner has records proving that the annual system maintenance is being done.

Program documentation will be provided on the HCHU website as soon as it is available.

Owners will receive written notification the year before their system is scheduled for inspection. The inspection will require a recent pumpout, at the owner's expense. HCHU will work with the area's pumpout operators to put in place a standard inspection report, a copy of which will be given to HCHU.

ACLA follow-up message to all lakeshore areas

Each ACLA Communications Coordinator is urged to inform the property owners in their lakefront area that if they are having their septic or holding tank pumped before the program starts, they should ask the operator to give them something in writing to show that their system is in good health, and keep it so that they won't need to have another pumpout when it comes time for the HCHU inspection. And if they know that their system is in need of some fix-up work, it would be a good idea to get that done now.

10:10 -- break

10:30 -- Maitland Valley Conservation Authority update (Phil Beard, General Manager)

The impact of climate change

A presentation by Brian Luinstra demonstrated that analysis of data since 1950 shows a rise in annual rainfall, rainfall intensity, the number of days in which the temperature does not go below zero, etc. This is causing significant increases in problems such as lake-bank slumping, gully erosion, and road washouts.

Information sheets have been developed on the impacts of climate change on bluff stability (see "Recent updates" section of the ACLA website). Brian stressed the importance of managing runoff and water around all buildings and subdivisions. Most subdivisions do not have a stormwater management plan. With the increasing intensity of rainfall and warmer winters, stormwater management will be increasingly important, not just in the gullies but for all the land between the gullies. A lot of these fields will just drain over the bluffs if they receive enough rainfall and/or snowmelt (this happened at Kingsbridge Shores in December 2008, and at many lakefront areas in July of 2010).

Proposed gully-management development policies

Phil Beard highlighted the magnitude of effort needed to address the impacts of climate change and nearshore water quality. Maps have been developed to show the extent of the erosion of each of the 130 lakeshore gullies in the Maitland Valley watershed by the time they reach Highway 21. A workshop to discuss the gully-management development policies that are being proposed by MVCA will be held 9am-noon, Saturday June 4, at the Columbus Centre in Goderich.

The Lake Huron Steering Committee

Continuing on the topic introduced early by Nigel Bellchamber, Phil reported on the recent formation of the Lake Huron Steering Committee, a body under the sponsorship of MOE and OMAFRA, involving four provincial ministries, the six Conservation Authorities from Sarnia to Tobermory, and a number of other groups. The Committee will oversee a five-year project that will select and study five subwatersheds that are significant carriers of nutrients and pathogens, and report on recommendations.

The first priority is prepare a watershed plan for each project so that the Steering Committee and landowners know what needs to be done and how much it could cost. The Steering committee is meeting later this month to discuss ways to help fund conservation work in each of the 5 pilot areas. It has been given no on-going budget, although it was given $100,000 of year-end money that it can allocate to the five subwatershed projects. The bulk of the funding that will be needed will have to come from applications to existing programs.

The Garvey Creek / Glen Drain Project

One of the five areas selected is the Garvey/Glen subwatershed. Farm operators have been contacted by MVCA to solicit participation in mitigation programs, and many have expressed interest. However, much effort remains if the program is to be effective. MVCA estimates that the costs of properly addressing the problems in this one subwatershed exceed $2M.

ACLA follow-up message to all lakeshore areas

With the provincial election this October, each lakeshore area should urge all of its property owners to begin lobbying current MPPs and other candidates, both here and in their home ridings, to convey the message that:

We need to put a good estimate on the number of properties at risk, their total value, the value of their property-tax contributions, and the value of their other contributions to the local economy.

11:00 -- ACLA environmental program Mike McElhone, Port Albert North)

Mike noted that much of the update on ACLA's environmental activities has already been mentioned in discussion of the preceding reports from Nigel Bellchamber, Bob Worsell, and Phil Beard.

2010 stream testing

The 2010 results show that the levels of E.coli, nitrogen, and phosphates in the streams continue to be a problem. The levels are slowly increasing, which underscores the importance of the work to be overseen by the Lake Huron Steering Committee.

2011 stream testing

The stream-testing costs are expected to be $10,066 for 2011.

Ausable Bayfield Maitland Valley Source Drinking Water Protection

The ABMV Source Water Protection Committee is in the final phase of its work, to develop proposed regulations to safeguard municipal drinking-water systems. That must be completed by 2012. After that, the Source Water Protection effort is expected to continue in some restructured and reduced form.

Comments on HCHU beach-testing data

Analysis of HCHU data for the last three years shows that conditions were worse at three of the four locations in ACW in 2010.

The HCHU advises that if you cannot see your feet when you are standing waist-deep in the lake, then it isn't safe to be in the lake at that time. However, measurements of clarity do not correlate well with E.coli geometric means (provincial standard for safe swimming is 100cfu/100ml). There are times when E.coli is above the safety level even though you can see your feet, and times when you can't see your feet even thought E.coli is at a safe level.

11:25 -- ACW Council update (Ben VanDiepenbeek, Reeve)

Reeve Vandiepenbeek brought greetings from ACW staff and Council (Council members Connie Black and Roger Watt also present).

ACW budget for 2011

Council approved a 3% increase in the budget for 2011. Costs of purchased materials and services continue to rise, and while everyone would like to see a zero increase, that would not be possible without cutting back on services. Budget items include: stormwater drains and paving for London Road in Port Albert (from Highway 21 to the bridge, scheduled to begin in August); engineering and environmental studies for the expansion of the Ashfield landfill site and the replacement of the Cranston Line bride; paving worn-out parts of Zion Road and St.Helen's Road; purchase of land to increase the McKenzie Camp Road allowance to 66 feet in preparation for road reconstruction (and possibly paving in some future year); ACW website upgrade, with abilities to interact with the newly-upgraded Huron County website; "welcome to ACW" signs where the county and provincial highways enter the township. Additional budget information is available on the ACW website.

ACW Official Plan update

Council and senior staff have completed a first-draft update of the 2003 ACW Official Plan. The 2011 document will be added to the ACW website as soon as it is available, and two Open House meetings have been scheduled for public input (Saturday June 25 at St.Joseph's Church in Kingsbridge starting at 9:30am with presentation at 10am, and Wednesday June 29 at Brookside Public School starting at 6pm with presentation at 6:30pm).

ACW recycling-bin experiment

Last season, the Cedar and Maple Grove lakefront associations jointly contracted for a new recyling-bin service introduced by Waste Management Systems, and found that this worked much better than ACW's every-second-week curbside/transfer-point recycling pickup. Also, after its fall meeting, the Huron Sands lakefront association petitioned Council to do away with the curbside/transfer-point recycling pickups in the Huron Sands subdivision and instead provide a lockable recycling bin. Council stated that it would look into that for 2011, and if the costs were workable, would also consider offering that as an alterative to the other lakefront associations.

Consequently, Council has accepted a proposal from its Supervisor of Public Works to offer a recycling bin as an experiment to two lakeshore associations this summer ... Cedar/Maple Grove, and Huron Sands. WMS will bill ACW an extra $60 for each recycling-bin load that it has to divert to the landfill if it contains garbage. If that happens, ACW will terminate the experiment and revert back to the curbside/transfer-point scheme, so each association will be responsible for managing this experimental service to ensure that people do not put garbage in the recycling bin.

11:40 -- Treasurer's report (Jim Baird, Amberley Beach)

Jim distributed copies of the financial statement for the 2010 season, covering the period from May 2010 through April 2011. We started with a balance of $14,570. The largest expense was $8,575 for stream-testing lab fees, offset by contributions of $5,900 from individual lakefront associations and $2,500 from ACW. We ended with a balance of $13,970 -- a net loss of $600.

Since the Steering Committee's target is to maintain a budget surplus sufficient to cover one year's costs with no offsetting contributions, the annual contribution requested for the 2011 season will remain at $10 per individual lakefront-association property owner.

The cheque for the 2011 contribution from particpating lakefront associations should be made payable to "Ashfield-Colborne Lakefront Association" and sent to Jim Baird, 343 Ascot Place, Waterloo Ontario, N2J 3V9. For your convenience, an Excel spreadsheet statement can be downloaded, printed, completed, and mailed to Jim with the cheque.

11:50 -- Other issues

Increasing participation in ACLA

Several people volunteered to seek contacts at non-participating lakefront areas: Kingsbridge Lane (15 properties just north of Birch Beach), Martin's Point (9 properties at the end of South Street in Port Albert), Buchanan's Beach (11 properties at the end of Golf Course Road), Goat Trail Cottage Association (12 properties at the end of Church Camp Road), and Airport Road (16 properities).

Update on wind-turbine projects

Capital Power is holding the second-to-last Open House on its 150-turbine Kingsbridge II project, 5-8pm on Wednesday May 25 at Brookside Public School (Huron Road 20 just west of Huron Road 1). Construction is expected to being in 2012, and operation is expected to begin in 2013.

It is reported that a company headquartered in Spain is currently offering to buy leases on farmland west of Highway 21, but the timing of the project and the number of turbines is not known.

The province's plan to allow wind turbines in the Great Lakes is temporarily on hold pending additional information on concerns such as disturbance to the lakebed.

12:10 -- Adjourn

Thanks to all speakers and participants. See you same time next year, 9am on the Saturday before the Victoria Day weekend. Have a safe and happy summer.