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 a disaster.
That's not surprising to many people who had to gaze at beautiful Lake Huron only to know the water was so polluted for many days this summer that it was unswimmable. It may not be new, but the statistics do prompt us to take another look at this pressing concern.
Our economic livelihoods could be threatened by this stain on our tourism record.
How much are we willing to stand? How much are we willing to support? How bad do things have to get?
How long before someone gets sick by swimming in polluted water? Would a lawsuit be far behind?
There has even been a rumour that someone became life- threateningly sick from a swim in a local lake in the past year. This remains unconfirmed but it does force us to take a critical look at this important issue.
Who is to, blame for this awful mess? Is it cottagers and their septic systems? How about farmers? How about municipalities and their sewage bypasses?
The truth is we have all contributed to the pollution in our lakes.
It is time we stopped talking about whom gets the blame and start thinking about how we are going to help become a part of the solution. - ( T. C.)

Beach E.Coli levels not acceptable

Seventy-one per cent of 135 beach readings over guidelines

By Tim Cumming
Signal Star Editor
November 7, 2001

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 level of E. coli in local beaches is consistently far and above provincial guidelines for acceptable levels in swimming water, according to members of the Ashfield-Colborne Lakefront Association.

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
Camp Kintail 547
Amberley 253
Black's Point 731
Ashfield 386
Fall's Reserve 342
Main Beach (Goderich)520
St. Christopher's Beach (Goderich) 525
The Cove Beach (Goderich) 141

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

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 .