Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com
BURLINGTON — In 2010 at the Muskoka G8 Summit water was high on the public agenda, but not for former prime minister Stephen Harper.
The gathering of world leaders on Peninsula Lake was the perfect photo-op for the Conservative leader with blue water and Muskoka chairs in the background.
Nine years later, across Central Ontario water is again top of mind.
If it ever left.
Muskoka’s relation to lakes and its reputation in the field of water studies is well recognized across Canada, as being among the most studied watersheds.
Water rates here are the second highest in Ontario because of all the money governments pour into them to ensure their quality.
As half of the federal riding with Parry Sound, the eastern district shares an interest in Ottawa’s announcement on Great Lakes water quality.
One in four Canadians draw their drinking water directly from the Great Lakes, says the federal government in an announcement Aug. 7.
As citizens groups tried to emphasize at the Huntsville summit, clean water is one of the essentials for life.
And the Great Lakes are a vitally important environmental, economic and cultural resource for millions of Canadians, the Liberal government understands today.
They say that more than 40 million Canadians and Americans live in the Great Lakes basin.
And the Great Lakes region represents the third-largest economy in the world, if measured as a country, supporting 51 million jobs or nearly 30 per cent of the combined workforce on both sides of the border.
Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, says in a release that Ottawa is “committed to protecting and restoring the water quality and ecosystem health of the Great Lakes, so Canadians can benefit from clean water, a healthy environment and the jobs and economic opportunities they support.”
Two projects close to Parry Sound-Muskoka funded by the federal government both involve Trent University in Peterborough.
Project: Addressing Nonpoint Source Phosphorus Loading to the Bay of Quinte
Proponent: Lower Trent Region Conservation Authority
Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $186,000 over 3 years
Project description: This project will engage local partners and landowners in reducing phosphorus runoff from their properties by using best management practices including livestock fencing, buffer planting shoreline rehabilitation, rain gardens and naturalizing areas with native plants, part of the Bay of Quinte Area of Concern remediation effort.
Project: Reducing Releases of Harmful Chemicals into the Great Lakes by Ozonation of Municipal Wastewater
Proponent: Trent University
Great Lakes Protection Initiative funding: $100,000 over 2 years
Project description: The project will evaluate the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of ozonation in the removal of perfluorinated compounds and brominated flame retardants from municipal wastewater. This is one of the innovative approaches being piloted to reduce releases of a small group of chemicals designated as Great Lakes Chemicals of Mutual Concern, which continue to enter the Great Lakes despite being heavily regulated in Canada.
McKenna announced $1.06 million in funding Aug. 7 over three years for 10 projects, part of the additional investment of $44.84 million for the Great Lakes Protection Initiative announced in Budget 2017.
She made the annoucement at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters next to the Burlington Skyway.
Projects funded this year include:
Addressing the toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, blooms that are spreading faster and farther as a result of climate change.
Another project will create and restore aquatic habitat in the bays and coastal wetlands of Toronto’s Tommy Thompson Park, by installing underwater reefs and managing invasive grasses.
She said the government “recognizes the important role that our partners, including Indigenous peoples, play in protecting and restoring the Great Lakes.”
Since 2015, Canada has contributed more than $18 million to support 123 conservation and restoration projects led by organizations and communities in the Great Lakes basin.
McKenna also participated in a roundtable discussion today with Great Lakes advocates representing a diverse range of perspectives. The discussion centred on Great Lakes priorities, challenges and opportunities.
“By investing in projects led by knowledgeable local partners, we can ensure the Great Lakes continue to offer generations of Canadians safe drinking water, clean beaches and vibrant ecosystems that support good middle class jobs and diverse economic opportunities,” added McKenna.
The Great Lakes are one the worlds largest repositories of freshwater—they contain 20 per cent of the world’s surface freshwater.
The Great Lakes contain one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth — sustaining more than 3,500 species of plants and animals.