The vast majority of people surveyed at the recent Celebration of Lake Simcoe event in Innisfil said they were aware of pollution problems facing the watershed, according to a survey conducted by local environmental lobby groups.
Most people surveyed identified the top reasons for the pollution of the lake, mentioning scientifically proven causes such as phosphorus pollution resulting from development, erosion, farming, sewage and septic systems. This is a change from 10 years ago, when the general perception that farming, and the Holland Marsh in particular, was responsible for the lake’s problems, said Claire Malcolmson Campaign Lake Simcoe advisor at Environmental Defence.
Nine per cent of the responses put invasive species, such as zebra mussels, as top causes. Another nine per cent attributed problems to sewage, and 29 per cent identified phosphorus as the main problem.
“The results suggest that all the education efforts around pollution problems facing the lake are really starting to pay off,” said Malcolmson. “Now that (residents) are armed with the knowledge about what is causing the lake’s problems, they can do something.”
The survey, created by the Rescue Lake Simcoe Coalition, also asked people for their opinions on what local governments should do to protect the lake. Six options were offered, based on things local governments are urged, but not required to do, under the provincial Lake Simcoe Protection Act and related plan. Most of the 129 respondents identified all of the options on the survey as ‘the most important’ activities for their local government to save the lake, which indicates strong support for improvements to municipal environmental practices.
A majority of those surveyed chose an investment in the building and repair of stormwater management systems as the best way to improve the quality of the lake. Declaring 40 per cent of the town as protected forest area, and updating building regulations also scored highly on the survey.
“Our volunteers were impressed by the interest of those approached and their willingness to participate in this survey to help assure the restoration of the lake,” said Innisfil District Association board member Don Avery, whose organization conducted the survey during the event. “We sincerely hope that the Innisfil council will respect the priorities requested by the results of this survey.”