From the Editorial Page - Goderich Signal Star, November 7, 2001
Enough is enough
The Ashfield-Colborne Lakefront Association has prepared charts which
suggest the quality of water in this area is approaching the level of
Beach E.Coli levels not acceptable
Seventy-one per cent of 135 beach readings over guidelines
By Tim Cumming
A group of Ashfield and Colborne residents wants to find out if poor
water quality in local beaches is a trend and, if so. what's causing it
and what can be done to clean up local water sources.
The association has developed a spreadsheet summary of E. coli readings in Huron County beaches in 2001.
Provincial guidelines for E. coli in swimming water set a maximum acceptable number of 100 E. coli bacteria per 100 millilitres of water.
Eight of the Huron County beaches, according to the summary, had average readings from July 23 to August 30 that exceeded the acceptable level of 100.
The results are as follows:
Port Albert 258
Seventy-one per cent of the 135 readings for Lake Huron beaches on the group's chart were over the guideline.
The information on the charts has been gleaned from Huron County Health Unit data but assembled by the Lakefront Association.
Dave Cooper and Heinz Puhlmann are members of the Ashfield-Colborne Lakefront Association.They call the state of our local beaches "deplorable."
"It's a concern from a health point of view," said Cooper. "If it continues like this it's going to affect tourism and property values ... we've got to start doing something about this.
" Cooper and Puhlmann say farm run-off, municipal treatment systems and septic systems at waterfront properties are all contributing factors to the pollution in the water.
They say there's a lack of specific information, however, to determine how much each of these three factors is contributing to the problem.
"The lack of information results in finger-pointing," according to a press release from the group, suggesting action is less likely if each of the three groups considers someone else a bigger contributor to the problem.
"Perhaps the time is here to take aggressive action on all three," say Cooper and Puhlmann.
The spreadsheet chart was completed, said Cooper, because the group wanted to see the pattern of water quality for the beaches.
The odd high reading might be understandable but, he said, the Amberley and Ashfield beaches, among others, are bad "week after week."
Agricultural run-off may be a significant contributor to the poor water-quality, according to the association, but the members say they aren't pointing fingers only at farms.
The association has encouraged its own members to test their septic systems for possible leaks and repair or replace them if necessary.
"We are part of this problem too," said Cooper.
Fifteen people took part in a volunteer septic pumping exercise initiated by the lakefront association.
"At this point, let's stop finger-pointing and let's start dealing with it all," said Cooper.
Information on the beach water quality statistics can be obtained through the Internet website at the address of northwesthuron.com
The information collected by the group was sent to Huron-Bruce MP Paul Steckle, Huron-Bruce MPP Helen Johns, Minister of the Environment Hon. Eli~abeth Witmer, to Goderich Mayor Deb Shewfelt and members of the council of the Township of Ashfield- Colborne-Wawanosh .