How you can help protect Dartmouth lakes

A municipal councillor in Dartmouth is asking for people to step up and help protect lakes in the community. 

The lakes are under increased pressure from intense housing and commercial development, said Sam Austin the representative for Dartmouth Centre. 

That creates runoff with increased phosphorus from fertilizers used on gardens, which feeds algae, weeds, and other unwanted growth in lakes.      

The weeds that have grown up in Lake Banook have interfered with paddling and Little Albro Lake is full of an invasive species called Yellow floating heart, which also makes it difficult for swimming and boating.

Anjuli Patil/CBC

Other lakes have suffered from blue-green algae blooms and increases in bacteria like e coli, both of which can shut down beaches frequented by swimmers, said Austin. 

"Dartmouth would not be Dartmouth without the lakes, right, there's a reason the nickname was city of lakes, and it's part and parcel with who we are," said Austin, "And we have to take care of them." 

Elizabeth Chiu/CBC

And there's a lot citizens can do to help out. 

He said people who have property on a lake can make sure there is a buffer of vegetation to help cut down on runoff.

Trees and shrubs can help do that by acting as a natural filter by trapping sediments laden with nutrients, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada's website. 

Austin also suggested that people use fertilizers as sparingly as possible to cut down on how much ends up in the lakes.

"Being that squeaky wheel for a lake, calling government when they notice a problem, making those reports to the department of environment, a little political pressure doesn't hurt," he said. 

Elizabeth Chiu/CBC

The Halifax Regional Municipality is also working to keep the lakes in good shape, it currently removes weeds from Lake Banook and is looking at putting out weed matts in Little Albro Lake to block the sunlight that's helping fuel the growth of Yellow Floating Heart.

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