- Glen McNeil
- Phil Beard, Chris Van Esbroeck, Patrick Huber-Kidby
(Maitland Valley Conservation Authority)
Communications Coordinators and designated alternates:
Ashfield Beach North,
Ashfield Beach South,
Huron Sands North,
Mid Huron Beach,
- Not represented:
Green Acres Cove,
ACLA financial update
- According to our records, we started the 2021 season with a bank
balance of $17,573. We had no income because we did not ask the local
associations for their normal $10-per-property contributions. As expenses,
we contributed $10,000 to initiate the ACLA/MVCA follow-on to the previous
stream-testing program, and we paid $148 to continue our annual "website
hosting and domain registration" service-provider contract. We are
therefore starting the 2022 season with a bank balance of $7,425.
- Jim Baird resigned as Treasurer last year, so we need to appoint a
new Treasurer, and we need to update the signing authorities for cheques
and other banking transactions. It is suggested that we have the Treasurer
and two additional people as signing authorities, with any two of the
three signatures being required.
- Those present at the meeting accepted the offers of Beth Ross (Mid
Huron Beach) to take over the Treasurer responsibilities, and Morten
Jakobsen (Kintail Beach) and Roger Watt (Huron Sands) as additional
signing authorities. They will work with Jim Baird to complete the
required changes with our bank.
- No decision was made at the meeting re resuming the request to the
member associations for the annual contributions. We will consider
re-initiating that for the 2023 season.
- Huron County statistics show that ACW is currently experiencing the
highest rate of growth and continues to have the lowest tax rate of the
county's nine municipalities.
- ACW's 2022 budget includes a tax-rate increase of 4.7%; adding
County and Education, the result is an overall 2.8% increase.
For details, see the Treasury section of
the ACW website.
- Lakeshore road improvements in the budget include Golf Course Road
(spillway and slope restoration, resurfacing from the highway to the
golf-course entrance, and paving from there to the west end), Zion Road
(paving from the highway to the bridge), and realignment of Birch Beach
Road at the new culvert and spillway).
- Processes to facilitate future residential development are
progressing in four areas: the southwest portion of Port Albert, the area
immediately south of the Airport, and two areas in Saltford / Century
- Commencing with this year's municipal election on October 24, Council
has eliminated using the one-per-ward system for three of its five
Councillors. The Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and all five Councillors will be
elected "at large" by all ACW voters. For details, see Municipal Election on
the ACW website.
Questions from the floor:
- Is ACW actively pursuing the creation of policy to regulate the
operation/impact of short-term rental properties?
Not at this time. ACW has a
Noise and Sound By-Law that it believes is sufficient to deal with
properties that are causing disruption. If you are experiencing problems,
please contact the Township office.
- Are there any municipal/provincial/etc grants available to help
fund lakefont property owners to install "seawall" shoreline protection to
combat further erosion of the bank?
Not to our knowledge.
- Is there any word on when Waste Management will implement the
intended move of recycling pickups from clear plastic bags to individual
WM put that intent on hold at the start of the COVID pandemic, and has
not yet stated if/when/how that will change.
- Are there any details yet as to any financial impact to ACW
related to the province's changes to make producers responsible for the
costs of recycling?
- Would ACW be willing to add the month of May to the current
June-September weekly lakefront garbage/recyling pickups?
We could investigate that at the next contract-renewal discussions with
WM, if there is sufficient interest throughout the lakefront
- On a related aspect, ACW has recently acquired a one-ton truck that
will be used during the winter to plow tight-access areas where the large
snowplows cause some damage to the roadside. This summer, ACW intends to
use that vehicle in an experimental project to do curbside garbage and
recyling pickups along several lakefront-area sideroads that currently
have "transfer point" designations because they aren't serviced by the
large WM trucks (on David Drive off South Street in Port Albert, and
Churchill and Gibson Drives at the west end of Zion Road). If that
experiment goes well, ACW will consider extending it to additional
lakefront areas next year.
Maitland Valley Conservation Authority
- The municipalities of ACW, Goderich, and Central Huron are funding a
three-year MVCA project that uses aerial ultra-high-resolution LiDAR to
update the floodline, toe of bank, top of bank, and 25- and 100-year
erosion lines along the 5,000 hectares of shoreline in the MVCA
- The LiDAR flight occurred last year. Work over this and next year
involves processing the data, generating the maps, and producting the
- The new mappings will be orders of magnitude more precise than what
has been available previouisly. This will enble MVCA to properly ensure
that any new development will be set back from the hazard areas
- MVCA has formed a volunteer "Community Liaison Group" whose purpose
is to provide a forum for the community to be informed about the mapping
project. The first of two public "community information" sessions is
currently being scheduled for July 18. Details will be communicated as
soon as they are available.
Healthy Lake Huron update
- The HLH program is jointly chaired by the Ministries of
Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MOECP) and Agriculture, Food, and
Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), and includes representation from the five
Conservation Authorities whose watersheds extend from Sarnia to Tobermory.
Provincial funding has been secured through 2023.
- HLH has recently created a mayors/reeves committee, being chaired by
John Grace, the Mayor of Goderich.
- Recent HLH activities have been focused on analysis of soil-erosion
potential, municipal-drain reviews, and cover-crop initiatives. In the
MVCA watershed, 60 landowners are participating in planting stream-buffer
vegitation and windbreaks in the 18-Mile River and the Garvey-Glenn
subwatersheds, and plans are being made to extend the programs to the
Water quality results
- MVCA now has 10 years of results from monitoring
improvement in the Garvey-Glenn project. The data shows that 70% of the
soil-erosion runoff occurs during the non-growing season, which
validates the need for and the value of cover crops.
ACLA/MVCA follow-on to the Stream Testing program
- Last year, ACLA initiated a new program as a follow-on to Mike
McElhone's stream-testing work, and allocated $10,000 as a start-up
contributions to fund that program.
- The intent of the fund is that it be used on projects that provide
demonstrable benefits towards the goal of beach water quality improvement.
- Initially, projects will be aimed at watercourses that drain into
Lake Huron in ACW's Ashfield and Colborne wards, assisting landowners to
establish and maintain stream buffers in near-shore tributaries. With
additional funding, it should also make it easier to increase diversity by
including herbaceous species and going beyond the typical planting
- MVCA has identified two specific projects in which it proposes to
use ACLA's funding this year, leveraged by additional funding sources if
Huron Perth Public Health beach-testing progam
A representative was invited to give an update, but, due to the
demands of COVID on the HPPH teams, they were unable to participate.
Hopefully next year things will be more normal. In the meantime, we are
invited to document any questions/concerns we have, and they will
from Nigel Bellchamber, Amberley Beach
2021 was not a good year for the Amberley and Ashfield Park beaches
as per the results posted on the HPPU website, and in fact 2020 and 2019
were not particularly good either. And when two consecutive tests (one
being a follow-up) exceeded the allowable range I am not sure where or how
they posted the warning/no swim advisory. People should be informed where
We know from the work that Mike McElhone/ACLA/MVCA did over many
years that the beaches are under the influence of watercourses that cross
HWY 21, particularly the rivers.
We also know that E Coli can overwinter and reproduce in the
interstitial zone from the work Todd Howell of MOE (now MOECP) and
colleagues did and published.
Further, Todd Howell and others went on to try and determine the
original source of the E coli and determined it to be overwhelmingly
livestock in origin, with some wildlife and little human waste
The Abstract for the research report reads as follows:
Repetitive element-polymerase chain reaction (REP-PCR) DNA
fingerprinting and library-based microbial source tracking (MST) methods
were utilized to investigate the potential sources of Escherichia coli
pollution in recreational waters of southeastern Lake Huron. In addition
to traditional sources such as humans, agriculture, and wildlife,
environmentally persistent E. coli isolates were included in the
identification library as a separate library unit consisting of the E.
coli strains isolated from interstitial water on the beach itself. Our
results demonstrated that the dominant source of E. coli pollution of the
lake was agriculture, followed by environmentally adapted E. coli strains,
wildlife, and then humans. A similar ratio of contributing sources was
observed in all samples collected from various locations including the
river discharging to the beach in both 2005 and 2006. The high similarity
between the compositions of E. coli communities collected simultaneously
in the river and in the lake suggests that tributaries were the major
overall sources of E. coli to the lake. Our findings also suggest that
environmentally adapted strains (EAS) of E. coli should be included as one
of the potential sources in future microbial source tracking
Ashfield Park Beach and Amberley Beach are the two beaches in ACLA
that most frequently test over the limit, for e-coli. At the moment, the
other ACLA beaches do not. This information is contained in the current
spreadsheet published by HPPH.
The only seemingly positive correlation between the excess tests at
Amberley is with wind direction-generally from a southerly direction. Wave
height, turbidity, and rainfall did not seem to offer significant
And what is south of Amberley Beach?
Ashfield Park Beach where
the 18 Mile River outlets to Lake Huron, less than 1 km south of Amberley
Beach. That is where Howell's studies took place. The 18 Mile also is the
tile and municipal drain outlet for the the land to the east and south of
Amberley which are subject to liquid waste from extensive livestock
operations being sprayed at several times during the year, but most often
That spraying has also been the subject of frequent calls to the
Provincial Spills Action Centre. Local farmers also comment on the
"nutrient management" practices of the farm operations involved. As one
recently put it, when sprayed and not worked in, or not injected, "what
you smell is money being lost". But apparently the practice meets the
requirements of the operator's nutrient management plan.
No charges have been laid by MOECP reps as spills are hard to observe
by the time they respond. Contact with OMAFRA regarding better practices
has been positive but indications are that it will take some time for
significant farm practices to change with this operator.
I think that ACLA needs to ask HPPH to take duplicate samples of
Ashfield Park and Amberley Beach so that DNA testing can be done where the
results are well over the allowable limit for safe bathing so that the
source can be confirmed if not pinpointed.
Why should other beaches in ACLA care?
The question was posed in the Ottawa Citizen in 2003 "What is Fouling the
Beaches of Huron"? At that time no one was sure. We are sure now, given
the work of Provincial scientists in response to the article's
It may take a combination of higher fertilizer
prices, peer pressure, HPPH, municipal and and Ministry staff attention to
improve safety for the thousands that visit and unwittingly swim in these
two well-attended public beaches in ACW each year. Now is not the time to
sit back and wait.
Recommendations from the floor
The recommendations highlighted below received responses from
- Whenever the testing results are above the
accepted limits, HPPH should be posting "unsafe for swimming" signs that
are prominently visible at the beach and at the nearby 18-Mile
riverside, until subsequent results are within limit.
HPPH responded:When beach sample results warrant posting, HPPH
does have signs posted at each beach which are subsequently affixed with
our warning placard to notify users of the risks associated with the beach
due to the adverse results. Unfortunately there are circumstances where
signs get removed by the general public and public health is not notified.
This is the case for your particular location, however, a sign should be
located at the beach access. As an FYI we are in the process of updating
our signs and once complete we will be replacing previous signs with new
ones. There are also alternative methods available for the public to
obtain public beach information – our website’s public tableau dashboards
Huron Perth Recreational Water Quality
or via our
We also have a phone line which provides up to date information regarding
postings (1-888-221-2133, extension 2501).
- HPPH should include DNA testing of the follow-up samples that
are taken each time results exceed the limits, to help determine targets
for corrective action. If HPPH requires additional funding to make that
happen, ACLA and the immediately-affected local beach associations should
consider doing that.
HPPH responded: Public Health is required to implement a beach
water quality program according to the Recreational Water Protocol, 2019
and the Operational Approaches for Recreational Water Guideline, 2018
(under the Ontario Public Health Standards). Within this program we are
mandated to complete E.coli sampling only and our assessment of public
beaches is very prescribed. Our staff conduct environmental surveys during
every sampling session to assess potential sources which may impact sample
results. It is beyond our mandate to include additional or other
exploratory sampling. DNA sampling can help provide information to better
understand local pollution sources, however a robust analysis and
inclusion of all potential sources – wild and domestic animals,
agricultural, human must be considered and included. In the past, beach
owners have explored this type of sampling through careful research,
development of a plan and contracting appropriate private laboratories.
Of the DNA sampling programs public health was involved with, our role was
to assist with the interpretation of data and conduct the sampling. If you
are interested in exploring DNA sampling for your beaches we would be
happy to provide you with the contacts/laboratories that have expertise in
this area and can provide you with cost estimates for sample shipping and
processing. The former Huron County Health Unit did participate in cost
sharing for sample shipping and processing when it was able to do so
however, HPPH does not have money to contribute in 2022 nor do we
anticipate that changing in 2023.
- ACW should assess its potential legal liabilities for promoting
these areas as public beaches.
HPPH responded: From a public health perspective, any
recreational water body has inherent risks both from a safety and health
perspective. Users of recreational water spaces, like a public beach must
understand and utilize these spaces knowing that they are often unstaffed
(eg: no lifeguards) and that the water is untreated and subject to natural
pollution sources. Public Health, through signage at public beaches along
the Lake Huron Shoreline and education and information on our website,
allows the public to make informed decisions about where to swim. As an
untreated body of water, there are risks which cannot be mitigated.
- It seems that existing regulations re the application of
liquid manure are not being enforced. ACW, MVCA, and ACLA should pursue
opportunities to work with Healthy Lake Huron, MOECP, OMAFRA, and the
Huron County Federation of Agriculture to improve "normal farming
practices" and nutrient-managment programs. Perhaps liquid manure should
be required to be injected into the soil at the time of planting rather
than being spread on the surface.
HPPH responded: This is not something public health can
provide comment on as it falls outside of our jurisdiction.
Issues from the floor
The meeting adjourned at 11:05. Next year's meeting will be
at 9am on Saturday May 13, 2022; method and location TBD.