Positive effects of combating pollutants surface at Lac Gauvreau

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by admin on September 1, 2010

The Editor,

Re Lac Gauvreau dodges red light on blue-green algae (Low Down News, Aug. 18 edition):

Notwithstanding the unnecessarily alarmist headline, your report provides a mostly accurate and reasonable description of the blue-green algae situation on Lac Gauvreau.

In the 10 years since blue-green algae was first identified in our lake (2000, not 2002 as the article states), the Association pour la protection de l’environnement du lac Gauvreau has worked to reduce the impact of the pollutants that are a major cause of blue-green algae growth.

Acting as a focal point for co-operative efforts with lakefront residents, local farmers and their union and municipal and provincial officials, by encouraging environmental education, monitoring the levels of pollutants in the lake and funding studies to determine the local causes of and remedies for blue-green algae propagation, the association has provided a model for co-ordinated local action aimed at combating environmental problems. And there is increasing evidence that these efforts are having the desired results.

As noted, apart from the Parent Creek mouth, low coliform bacteria levels in the rest of the lake ensure that, overall, the quality of the water for swimming remains excellent. Also, municipal testing of phosphorous levels in the lake show an overall downward trend. At no time since they were first identified in Lac Gauvreau have the blue-green algae been tested as being toxic.
Such results are encouraging. But this does not mean that the work of the association or its partners can let up. The conditions that encourage the growth of blue-green algae over many years of human habitation at Lac Gauvreau and the environmental degradation of Parent Creek will take many more years to resolve. Beyond Lac Gauvreau and its riverine inputs, these same or similar conditions affect many rivers, streams and lakes throughout the Gatineau Hills. A number of these have also experienced the blossoming of blue-green algae.

So, far from being an isolated case, Lac Gauvreau has proved to be an early harbinger of a more wide-spread ecological problem, and the Association pour la protection de l’environnement du lac Gauvreau an example of productive community action to combat environmental pollution and ameliorate its effects.

John Leech

La Peche, Quebec