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Lake Simcoe

Lake Simcoe is the reason we all live or cottage at McRae Beach. The lake is in serious jeopardy and this page will give you information on what you can do to ensure that the lake survives for us to enjoy.

The WAVE is about healthy yards… and healthy waters. The WAVE is about the power of people—and you’re invited to be part of it.

Lots of great stories of lake living and useful information in every issue

Burnie Creek - a local concern for McRae Beach

Burnie Creek drains into Lake Simcoe at Island View Beach which is next to South McRae Beach. Inland pollution has and is causing problems along its course and at the mouth. Silt and other run off is causing a significant degradation of the shore line. Although the muddy silt has mostly affected the beaches immediately west of the mouth it is a critical problem for the residents using Island View Beach. Their residents are attempting to have the LSRCA investigate the problem. Our association has agreed to support their efforts. It is possible the contamination may affect our beach residents if this pollution is allowed to continue unabated. For more information please click. Burnie Creek Cleanup

Ribbon of Life

With a surface area of 722 square kilometres, Lake Simcoe is southern Ontario's largest inland body of water exclusive of the Great Lakes. And while it's drainage basin sweeps all the way from the Oak Ridges Moraine to Barrie, Orillia and Beaverton — it is the Lake's shoreline that hosts one of the most biologically diverse areas in the watershed. Unfortunately, this narrow "Ribbon Of Life" hugging our shores is in danger of being destroyed.

You can help protect Lake Simcoe's "Ribbon Of Life" by following these recommendations:

  • Restore/preserve shoreline vegetation to enhance wildlife habitat. The Federation of Ontario Naturalists suggests gardeners looking to add a little colour to their waterfront properties try planting vibrant native species such as arrowheads, blue flags, pickerelweed, water parsnips, and cardinal flowers.
  • Use phosphate free soaps and detergents, and maintain septic systems to reduce the amount of phosphorus leaching into our waterways. Since every gram of phosphorous has the potential to generate 500 grams of plant life, it is important to keep this incredible fertilizer out of our waterways.
  • Naturalize your lawn and leave at least a metre-wide "buffer strip" of vegetation along the shore. You can reduce soil erosion, save time and money by converting grassy areas to an attractive collection of native ground covers such as Herb Robert, bearberry and wild strawberry plants.
  • Plant native trees along the shoreline to reduce soil erosion, enhance wildlife habitat and protect spawning beds.
  • Keep herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers out of our waterways as they upset local ecosystems.
  • Reduce boating speeds near the shore. This will help reduce wakes which have the potential to uproot plant, stress aquatic life, and create erosion.
  • Use non-toxic cleaners, and dispose of household hazardous waste responsibly. While household waste water can be treated by municipal and private septic systems, substances dumped into street gutters and down storm drains remain untreated and can ruin recreational areas and wildlife habitat as they make their way along our waterways into Lake Simcoe. Please call your local municipality to find out how best to dispose of all substances with warning labels.

Winning The War Against Algae

Lake Simcoe is in trouble. Phosphorus pollution from both urban and rural sources has contributed to the excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae, upsetting the Lake's dynamic ecosystem. The only way we are going to win the war against algae, and restore Lake Simcoe's health, is if we all work together to reduce the amount of phosphorus entering the Lake and its tributaries. "An Action Guide to Improving the Waters of Lake Simcoe" provides the information you need to help save Lake Simcoe. This 20-page booklet outlines water conservation strategies you can use at home, or at the cottage. It also provides advice on reducing soil erosion and naturalizing your lands. The booklet even has recipes for environmentally sensitive cleaners and pesticide alternatives.

You can find the complete version of the Action Guide on the LSRCA's website, located at www.lsrca.on.ca or you can call 905-895-1281 to have one mailed to you.

Until then:

  • Use fertilizers sparingly... Top dress the lawn with finished compost in the spring and fall, and leave the grass clippings on the ground to fertilize the lawn all summer long.
  • Reduce surface water contamination... use a bucket instead of a hose to wash the car; plant native species along drainage ditches; sweep the driveway rather than hosing it down; and use a pulsating sprinkler to deliver one inch of water to the lawn once a week.
  • Find out about the "Lake Simcoe Water Quality Improvement Program"... Landowners interested in reducing soil erosion, enhancing wildlife habitat and improving local water quality can find out if the conservation works on their land qualify for technical or financial support by calling 905-895-1281. Page 5 of this guide provides further details

Advice For Boaters

With their intimate knowledge of Lake Simcoe's health and beauty, boaters have a vested interest in protecting our waterways.

Here are a few "Green" tips for environmentally friendly boaters to follow:

  • Empty black water and grey water storage tanks at marina pumpout stations otherwise the bacteria, phosphorus and other contaminants may compromise local water quality.
  • Use phosphate-free cleaners so that a "ship shape" deck doesn't mean feeding the algae!
  • Reduce speeds near shorelines because "making waves" destroys wildlife habitat and causes erosion.
  • Place your garbage in the dock-side dumpster, not overboard, or else it could harm or kill wildlife.
  • Keep toxins out of our waterways... use "bilge pillows" to absorb harmful petroleum products, and avoid gas spills by easing up on the handle at the pump.
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