Ontario's Big Dirty Lake Gets a Clean-Up

lake simcoe.photo

Lake Simcoe is the twelfth largest fresh water lake in Ontario and it's got trouble. Close to a big city and surrounded by cottages, farms and permanent residences, the spill-off from farming and people has upset the ecology and left it in a perilous state. The problems include too much toxic phosphorous, too little oxygen (so fish were dying), and the impact of 35 adjacent rivers and streams emptying dirty water into the lake.

The eco-system was fragile and serious action was needed to save the lake. To the rescue came a number of community activist groups, including the Windfall Ecology Centre, a regional conservation authority and the Ladies of the Lake.

ladies of lake.photo

Image from Ladies of the Lake

Comprised mainly of wealthy cottagers, the Ladies of the Lake are the liveliest of the bunch, with a fundraising calendar featuring many of them in the nude. The Ladies produced a report called the Naked Truth which was a comprehensive research project on the condition of the lake. It also outlined a series of actions to restore the Lake to health.

This impressive group of activist women lobbied the provincial government and received solid and substantial funding to back up their plans. This autumn they will be holding a conference, Where Waters Meet, to discuss new ways of living in the watershed area.

Not content to stop there, they organised a film project for 100 students this summer, called W.A.S.T.E. ( We are Saving the Environment). Open to students living on all shores of the lake, they bought a vintage motor home, retrofitted it with solar panels and hit the road.

waste film.photo

Image from WASTE

They visited 4 towns around the lake and in each one held a two-week session teaching the students how to write, shoot and edit a film, all on the topic of the environment. Since all of the young film makers were lake residents they knew about the changes in the lake's eco-culture all too well.

The films will be shown in the autumn at the conference and at a festival. : WASTE

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