Halifax approves program to test for contaminants at 74 lakes

·2 min read
A blue-green algae advisory sign at Lake Micmac in Dartmouth, N.S., in August 2019. (David Laughlin/CBC - image credit)
A blue-green algae advisory sign at Lake Micmac in Dartmouth, N.S., in August 2019. (David Laughlin/CBC - image credit)

A new water quality monitoring program has been approved for the Halifax region that will see 74 lakes sampled beginning in spring 2022.

The lakes will be tested for algae blooms and E. coli, as well as phosphorus, chlorophyll and chloride.

According to the municipality's manager of environment, the lakes have been chosen based on scientific criteria.

"It's based on our current understanding of their vulnerabilities," said Shannon Miedema. "We do have a thousand lakes within our municipal boundaries."

Lakes to be monitored include Albro, Banook, Russell and Williams. The full list is found in this report from 2020.

Jack Julian/CBC
Jack Julian/CBC

Coun. Tony Mancini said the monitoring program comes at a critical time.

"Climate change is here, the development and growth we have going on in our municipality is all around us and that does have an impact on the quality of our lakes," said Mancini.

Miedema said lakes could be added or removed from the list based on what the samples indicate.

A risk advisory was issued for Grand Lake because of the presence of an algae called benthic mat, and high bacteria levels have closed the Kinap Beach on West Porters Lake.

Albro Lake Beach had also been closed due to high bacteria levels, but reopened on July 2 after followup testing found the water once again safe.

There are also ongoing issues with weed control in lakes Banook and Micmac.

Coun. Sam Austin supports the creation of the monitoring program because he said it's not just a provincial responsibility.

Help from community groups

"The stresses are municipal and the impacts are municipal as well, so it doesn't make sense to say it's not our job," said Austin.

City staff plan to work with community groups who play a role in monitoring the health of specific lakes.

"We also need to help communities build those stewardship associations because it's certainly not equal across the board," said Coun. Patty Cuttell. "But at the end of the day, all lakes matter."

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