INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………………………..…….. 1
SEPTIC SYSTEM ………………………………………………………………………… 7
SHORELAND…………………………………………………………………………….. 10
AQUATIC PLANTS/FERTILIZERS………………………………………….……….. 13
WATER TESTING ………………………………………………………………………. 16
NOISE AND MISCELLANEOUS……………………………………………………… 19
REFERENCES/RESOURCES ………………………………………………………… 20
Municipalities of GORE and MILLE ISLES, Quebec
This booklet has been inspired by the Lake Barron Environmental Report which was based on the work
done by the Lake Louisa Association.
Prepared by:
Photo: (front cover):
Lake Hughes Association Environmental Committee
Kelly Fahey, John Lough, Heather McCullough
Bill Pollock
Celeste Benard, Pierre Gregoire, Kim Nielsen
Bunny McCullough
Kelly Fahey, Barbara Stolt
This booklet summarizes many of the environmental issues which have been discussed
over the years by the Lake Hughes Association.
The objective of the booklet is to provide some basic information about environmental
issues pertaining to Lake Hughes and to recommend some environmentally friendly
The continuous development of lakefront properties will ultimately have an effect on the
quality of our lake. Before beginning any practice, stop and think about the potential
risks to water quality.
Preservation of our lake is much easier and less costly than Restoration.
We are very fortunate at Lake Hughes as we do not have many of the most serious
sources of pollution such as:
Gasoline Motor Boats Lake Hughes is a “no gasoline motor boat ” lake
(Municipal – Provincial & Federal law)
No industry or agriculture
No golf courses
No municipal spraying with pesticides
We encourage comments and suggestions for future revised editions of this booklet and
we would appreciate any documentation or reference materials.
Being environmentally friendly requires understanding the consequences of our actions:
this is very well portrayed in the following story about “Wilbur and Harry in the
How Septic Systems Function
Septic Systems are a vital part of our homes and cottages and can be a hazard to our
lake environment when they fail to function. To understand how the septic system can
fail it’s necessary to understand how it works. The septic system consists of two major
components: the septic tank and the weeping field.
Septic Tank
The first stop for household sewage is the septic tank. Inside the tank the sewage
solids sink to the bottom, and are called sludge. Greases and fats float to the top and
are called scum. Liquid is left in the middle. Bacteria in the septic tank start the
decomposition of the sewage solids. The sludge and scum are retained within the tank
and should be pumped out on a regular basis.
The liquid flows out of the tank’s exit into the weeping field. In the soil it encounters
more bacteria, which finish the good work begun in the tank. The weeping field acts as
a natural sewage filtration and purification system. This natural filtering plant works
when the run-off fluid from the septic tank flows past the weeping field, through the
soil past the root systems of trees, shrubs and grass. This provides the lake with much
needed protection.
Failure to pump out a septic tank when required will result in sludge and scum being
carried into the weeping field. This in turn may clog the system. In this event, not only
will the tank have to be pumped out, but the weeping field may have to be replaced.
The size and type of septic systems is based on the size of the home and lot, so when
planning on building additions, such as adding a washroom, installing a hot tub, etc.,
check to ensure the system will handle the load.
Septic tanks must be pumped out regularly. Municipal by-laws require tanks to be
pumped out based on occupancy of home or cottage.
Seasonal residents:
Permanent residents:
Clean out every 4 years
Clean out every 2 years
Proof of Clean-out must be sent to the municipality.
Septic tanks must have structural integrity and be watertight. You should be informed
if the tank is damaged, leaking, rusting or of any other existing problems when it is
pumped out.
Ask for this information if it is not readily provided.
If your septic tank is 25 years old, it is recommended that you consider installing
a new system.
Avoid commercial septic tank accelerators and/or bacterial additives. They are
unnecessary preparations. Your septic tank contains the required bacteria to process
When winterizing the cottage, use only plumbing antifreeze, not automobile radiator
Weeping Field
The weeping field is best located in an open area clear of tree root systems. The area
over the weeping field should be grassed or left open to wild flowers so that maximum
evaporation can take place.
The weeping field should be protected from all vehicular traffic, including large lawn
tractors, snowmobiles, heavy equipment, etc. The weight of this traffic can crush the
pipes in the weeping field. Compacting of snow in this area increases risk of freezing
the septic field.
Warning Signs of a Failing Septic System
Odours near the septic system.
Spots of lush vegetation on or around the weeping field.
Ground becomes soggy over the weeping field.
Presence of thick black sticky soil near the weeping field.
Back-up of the sewage into the drains of the house.
High fecal coliforms present in the lake in front of the house. The Lake Hughes
Association conducts water testing each summer.
How to Help the Septic System Function
Minimize Water Consumption (Don’t Overload the System)
Many homes draw water directly from the lake and therefore enjoy an unlimited supply.
Remember that the septic system has to cope with the incoming liquid. The more liquid
we feed it, the greater the likelihood that solids will be carried into the weeping field to
clog it. This is the most common cause of septic system problems.
Here are some helpful ideas:
 Use water restricted plumbing fixtures, such as low flow showerheads and low
flush toilets.
 Repair leaking faucets and “running” toilets.
 Allow the septic tank to have a rest period between large loads of waste water,
i.e., when laundry load is completed, wait before draining a bath.
 Run the dishwasher only when completely full.
Septic System Hazards
Be careful as to what goes down the drain. Here are some ideas:
Limit the amount of toilet paper and choose one ply.
Do not allow food scraps, including coffee grounds, to escape down the drain.
Sink garbage disposal systems (garbarators) are not appropriate for septic
systems. The generated waste increases sludge and scum in the tank. Use a
composter instead.
Avoid chlorine bleach (Javel) as it destroys the bacterial action in the tank.
Alternatives are Borax or washing soda.
Do not allow grease, oil, household chemicals/cleaners, paint and thinners into
the system. Baking soda is an excellent substitute for cleansers. Avoid
commercial products used for unclogging household drains. Try a mixture of ¼
cup baking soda, ½ cup vinegar and 1 gallon of boiling water.
Switch to phosphate free detergents. Read the labels!
 Phosphate free laundry detergents are readily available in the
grocery stores and are not more expensive. Most companies have
phosphate free bleach free brands.
Some examples are:
All Laundry Detergent - 100% Phosphate Free
President’s Choice Laundry Detergent - Phosphate Free
Sunlight Laundry Detergent -100% Phosphate Free
 Phosphate free automatic dishwasher detergents are very difficult
to find, usually only available in a health food or environmental store.
One example is:
Nature Clean Dishwasher Powder - Phosphate Free
 Most hand dishwashing liquids are phosphate free, therefore this
method is much more environmentally friendly.
 Phosphate free cleaning products
One example is:
Vim - Phosphate Free
Municipal Regulations
The shoreland of Lake Hughes is a protected municipal conservation zone.
Mille Isles
Protected Zone – 20m/65.6ft
Protected Zone – 10m/32.8 ft (if slope is less than 30% *)
– 15m/49.2 ft (if slope is more than 30% *)
Before disturbing or altering anything in this shoreland area, consult the municipality for
the by-laws. Remember that these regulations and guidelines protect and preserve the
lake. Authorization And Permits Are Required For Certain Projects.
In the protected zone, the natural vegetation must be left undisturbed. An opening of
5m/16.4 ft in width is permitted, giving access to the lake. When the slope of the
shoreland is steep (more than 30%*) a stairway and the 5m access to the lake may be
obtained by only trimming and pruning trees and shrubs.
* A 30% slope is represented by leaning a board against the wall with the top at 3ft
and the base set 10ft away from the wall.
Anything done in the shoreland protected area should have the following two
1. prevent erosion
2. preserve and restore the natural vegetation
Note: In certain cases, when the stabilization of a slope is necessary, a rock- type
retaining wall may be used with the help of natural vegetation. Consult the municipal
inspector for specific details about what is permitted.
Activities Not Permitted In The Shoreland Protected Zone/Lake
Excavation, digging, levelling and landfilling in the shoreland protected zone.
Dredging and landfill in the lake.
Destroying, damaging and removing aquatic vegetation (weeds) in the lake.
Pouring cement in the shoreland protected zone as well as the lake.
Dumping sand on the beach is strictly forbidden.
Deck (Terrace)
 A wooden deck on posts (no cement) is permitted in the 5 meter opening giving
access to the lake.
 Maximum size 50 sq m/538.2 sq ft, must not occupy more than 5m/16.4 ft in
width as per the Municipality of Mille Isles by-law.
 Topography of the land must not be altered (no excavation/back-fill).
 The deck must be situated entirely on the shoreline and not in the lake.
 A space must be left between the ground and the platform to permit the growth
of natural vegetation.
Wharf (Dock, Quay)
 A wharf on posts or floating platforms is permitted. However, it must not
interfere with the free circulation of water.
Municipality of Gore:
size not exceeding 20sq m/215.3 sq ft
Municipality of Mille Isles: size not exceeding 2m x 6m/6ft x 20 ft
The Lake Hughes Association does not recommend treated wood.
(Arsenic, part of the preservative in treated wood, can leach into the
lake. Arsenic may cause cancer in humans and is especially toxic to
children. ).
The importance of natural lakeside vegetation cannot be over-emphasized.
Trees, bushes and shrubs along the shoreline provide a good network of deep roots
which helps stabilize the soil and prevent erosion.
This root system also acts as a natural filter to stop harmful nutrients from reaching the
lake. This filter strip of vegetation, especially between the septic system weeping field
and the lake provides significant protection for the lake.
This vegetation also uses some of the nutrients that reach the ground water from the
septic system, and although good for the vegetation, excessive amounts of certain
nutrients are harmful to the lake, encouraging algae (green scum) and plant growth in
the water.
The shallow area of the lake around the shoreline is the most productive part of the
lake. Any disturbances or disruptions of this part of the lake threaten the fragile
equilibrium of the lake’s ecosystem and should be avoided. Landfill (sand) dumped on
the shore eventually washes into this sensitive area and destroys spawning beds and
aquatic life.
Swamps also play an important role in the life cycle of the lake. There are regulations
protecting them from being disturbed or altered.
Good Shoreland Practices
Preserve all the trees, shrubs, bushes, plants and flowers already present. A
mature tree is a powerful filter which can absorb more than 250 gallons or 1125
liters of water per day!
Cutting the shrubs and vegetation to ground level is prohibited except
in the 5m access to the lake. When your shoreland property is on a
steep slope (over 30%) shrubs and vegetation may only be trimmed or
pruned in this 5 m access.
If the natural vegetation has already been removed, restore it by planting native
trees, shrubs, etc. normally found along the shoreland.
The following are some recommendations for shoreland planting:
Conifers such as, cedar, spruce, white pine.
Let hardwoods seed themselves.
Myrica gale, alder, spiraea, willow, cinquefoil.
Lab Ecolo or Lab 2000
Special mixture of grass seeds for shoreland.
Do not put high maintenance lawns or gardens which require compost or
fertilizer near the lake.
Natural sandy beaches are rare at Lake Hughes and artificial sandy beaches
are prohibited. A good alternative is a dock with stairs and a raft.
Small to moderate amounts of aquatic plants are essential to the life of a lake. These
plants thrive on available nutrients, light and heat in exactly the same way as other
plants. If a lake becomes over fertilized (eutrophication) and/or the water temperature
rises, the symptoms are excessive algae and aquatic plants. The decomposition of this
excessive algae and plant growth depletes the supply of dissolved oxygen in the water
threatening the survival of all living things in the lake. A healthy lake is one with an
adequate supply of dissolved oxygen.
Control of Excessive Aquatic Plant Growth
Phosphorus (Phosphates) is the key nutrient in
stimulating algae and aquatic plant growth. The main sources of this
Limit Nutrients.
nutrient are:
1) Septic system sewage due to the phosphates found in laundry detergents and
automatic dishwashing products, etc.
2) Fertilizers used on lawns and gardens.
 Protect or restore the natural vegetation on the shoreland to provide shade,
prevent erosion and to act as a natural filter.
 Avoid cutting the weeds in the lake or pulling them out by hand as this often
promotes greater plant growth.
The nutrients in the fertilizers used on lakeshore lawns and gardens can leach into the
ground water and eventually arrive in the lake where they become a source of pollution
promoting algae and aquatic plant growth.
The numbers on the fertilizer label refer to the percentage of nutrients contained and
always in the sequence: Nitrogen – (Phosphorus/Phosphates) – Potassium.
Organic does not mean safe for the lake, it means a substance derived from plant or
animal material, e.g. bone meal is an organic fertilizer high in phosphorus made from
steamed and ground animal bones.
The Lake Hughes Association requests that lakeshore property owners avoid
using FERTILIZERS as well as PESTICIDES, which also include HERBICIDES,
INSECTICIDES and FUNGICIDES. These are all sources of pollution for the
lake. The Lake Hughes Association has information about natural garden remedies for
insects and/or diseases, please contact them for more information.
Compost is a natural and acceptable source of fertilizer; however, it is full of nutrients
and therefore should not be used near the lake.
“Is the water safe to drink?” is one of the most commonly asked questions about
Lake Hughes. The lake is tested annually to determine the presence of
coliforms and is deemed very safe for swimming. However, the lake water may
not be safe to drink unless it is treated with an approved filter or boiled.
A contamination source of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams is a parasite known as
Giardia Lamblia. This intestinal parasite causes Giardiasis, a disease commonly referred
to as Giardia or “Beaver Fever”. It can be carried and spread by any warm-blooded
mammal including dogs and humans. Beavers are prime agents in transferring this
parasite because they spend so much of their time in and near water.
Signs and Symptoms
Some infected people experience no symptoms at all while others can be desperately ill.
This intestinal infection can be associated with a large variety of symptoms, increasing
and decreasing in severity, often intermittent and lingering for several months if
 Pale, foul-smelling, frothy diarrhea accompanied by abdominal cramps, bloating
and excessive gas.
 General malaise, fatigue, weakness, nausea, lack of appetite and weight loss.
Incubation Period
Time it takes for symptoms to become apparent in an infected person.
 One to four weeks.
There are several methods of treating water.
destroyed are:
 Bacteria
 Viruses
 Parasites and their cysts
The organisms which have to be
Boiling is the most reliable method of purifying water for drinking. All organisms
including bacteria, viruses, parasites and their cysts are destroyed by boiling.
Boiling cont’d
Bring water to a vigorous rolling boil for 1 minute (3 minutes at higher elevations, over
1400m/4,600 ft and in developing countries). Allow the water to cool to room
temperature. The “flat” taste of water can be improved by adding a pinch of salt or by
pouring water back and forth between two clean containers.
Important: This method of water purification is not adequate for immuno-compromised
There are many excellent filters available, but it is very important to get the filter
appropriate for the task.
There are filters to remove organisms, filters to remove chemicals and others to deal
with the colour, clarity, taste and odour of the water.
Filters have “pores” which allow particles of certain sizes to pass through. Essentially all
sanitizing water filters for organisms filter out bigger organisms like parasites and some
bacteria but no filters have pore sizes small enough to remove viruses. Therefore a
filter usually incorporates another method of disinfection, e.g. ultraviolet light.
Effective disinfection is defined as achieving 99.9% removal of the organism.
Filters require periodic cleaning and maintenance.
Shop for a filter only from the most reputable stores or dealers. ASK QUESTIONS!
The accredited laboratory, Bio Services Laboratoire d’analyses environnementales
(819) 326-8690, can provide recommendations for water filters.
Resource person: Heather McCullough,
Environment Committee, Lake Hughes Association
Water testing for fecal (human) coliforms is carried out annually by the Lake Hughes
Association. Thirty-five samples, which include one from the inlet and one from the
outlet, are collected at the end of July, which is considered a high risk period with the
warmest temperatures, the lowest water levels and the most people present.
The samples are analyzed at a laboratory accredited by the Ministry of the
Bio Services Laboratoire d’analyses environnementales
180 boul. Morin (Rte 117 N), Ste. Agathe des Monts, (819) 326-8690
If the test results indicate a problem, the test is repeated and if the second test also
indicates a problem, the location is visited in order to determine where the problem is
Test for fecal coliforms
200 and +
(If the test result on the report is < 2 it means that it is 0)
The public well on Horseshoe Road is also tested at this time. Private wells can be
tested for a reasonable charge.
Hydrocarbons (petroleum derivatives – skidoos)
Arsenic (treated wood)
No problem
No problem
No problem
Phosphorus (phosphates) and nitrogen (nitrates)
Harmful nutrients promoting algae growth
Testing done by University of Ottawa
Proposed Examination of water clarity with a Secchi disk to evaluate
the lake’s enrichment status
Resource Person: John Lough, Environment Committee, Lake Hughes Association
To help reduce the amount of waste headed to our landfills, we can make an effort in
the way we manage our household waste. Here are a few simple rules:
The Three Rs
Reduce – Buy and use less. Purchase only what you really need.
Reuse – Find a new use. Can your item be used instead of buying something
Recycle – Set aside items which fit the criteria for recycling depots.
The municipalities of Gore and Mille Isles have also been making waste reducing efforts
by changing and implementing new recycling programs, here are the details:
Municipality of Gore
Commencing July 4, 2002, the municipality of Gore will begin its bi-monthly door-todoor recycling collection service. The dates for collection as well as the items and
manner in which they are to be collected are detailed in an information sheet which is
forthcoming. The recycling container behind the Gore Municipal office will be removed.
For more information contact the municipality at 450-562-2025.
Municipality of Mille Isles
Effective June 24, 2002, the Municipality of Mille Isles will have recycling depots. The
nearest depot to Lake Hughes is the Mille Isles Municipal Garage. A detailed
information sheet regarding materials collected is available at the municipality or call
Composting is another viable way in reducing kitchen and garden waste.
There are
many resources and containers available by contacting garden centres and book centres
you can find more information. Composting areas must be kept at a distance of
45.7m/150ft from any water source.
The smoke from burning leaves, campfires, etc., can be bothersome to neighbours.
Consider raking the leaves off the lawn and spreading them in the forest for natural
If you must burn, the Municipality of Gore has a by-law for burning leaves, campfires,
etc., please contact them for their permit and fees. The Municipality of Mille Isles
requests that you advise their office and/or fire department prior to burning.
The wildlife and wildlife habitats found at Lake Hughes are an important part of lake
Our daily activities in and around our homes and cottages have a
substantial impact on the wildlife and their habitats. Here are a few helpful ideas to
encourage wildlife sustainability:
Ensure garbage has been securely sealed and enclosed in an animal proof bin.
Plastic debris may be swallowed by animals or they may become entangled with
packaging resulting in death. Careless disposal can cause harm to wildlife.
Resist the temptation to closely follow loons, ducks, etc. Observe wildlife at
Do not feed wild animals (racoons, deer, loons, ducks, etc.).
Keep your domestic animals under control. Respect municipal leash laws. Dogs
running free may harass and kill wildlife. Putting a bell around the neck of an
outdoor cat permits birds to hear their approach. Domestic cats kill many songbirds
each year.
When purchasing your fishing licence, consult the brochure Sport Fishing in Quebec
regarding length limits of fish and “catch and release” techniques. Use non-lead
fishing gear so birds and fish ingesting lost sinkers will not be poisoned. Do not
leave fishing lines on shore unattended, fish and birds can become entangled and
Never introduce alien fish species as they may upset the balance of the ecosystem.
When walking or boating stow your trash and dispose of it safely or recycle it
ashore. Never throw it overboard.
Report suspicious-looking discharges and other environmental problems to the Lake
Hughes Association or to the provincial wildlife agency.
Teach others what you have learned.
a distance, use binoculars for a better view.
When you move from one body of water to another there is a serious risk of carrying
harmful aquatic species with you. These harmful species quickly multiply creating
water infestations harming the lake biodiversity.
The Lake Hughes Association requests that watercraft, fishing gear, etc. used
on another lake, river, etc., be inspected and washed thoroughly and left to
dry out of the water for a minimum of five days*. This is especially important for
people visiting Lake Hughes and for strangers trying to launch their boats at
unauthorized spots.
* The Quebec Minister of the Environment recommendation for 2002. Also suggests using hot water or
high pressure water jet to wash the boat.
Noise is annoying to humans and wildlife alike. Excessive noise not only disturbs peace
and tranquillity but has a lasting effect on wildlife.
When choosing outdoor recreational activities, consider cross-country skiing, hiking,
cycling and canoeing instead of snowmobiling, four-wheeling, dirt bikes, etc. These
activities are quieter so they don't disturb wildlife. The quiet activities may even
increase your chances of seeing wildlife. Loud noises especially in the winter affect
animals when they need to rest and conserve their energy.
Both Gore and Mille Isles municipalities have by-laws which outline noise infractions. In
summary, there is a curfew between 22h00 and 07h00, wherein noise is
prohibited, except in the case of an emergency. Noise caused by work (lawnmowers,
chainsaws, leaf blowers, saws, etc.), music, etc., during the curfew can be seen as a
contravention resulting in fines and/or legal fees. Noise from music or broadcasts
must not be heard outside the limits of the lot on which the noise is
Insist that swimmers leave the water to use the bathroom. A usual guideline when
bathrooms are unavailable is between 30.5m-45.7m/100ft-150ft from water’s edge.
Dispose of animal waste properly, as it contains disease causing organisms which can
leach into the lake.
Do not use soap or shampoo, including soaps marked “biodegradable”, directly in the
water. Do not wash anything in the lake (hair, body, dishes, clothes, dog, etc.).
Avoid allowing any chemicals, e.g., paints, thinners, furniture stripping products, oil,
gasoline, fertilizers, pesticides which could leach into the lake through ground seepage.
Avoid using deckwash, preservatives, stain or paint on the deck if it is on or near the
Municipal Office of Gore
Municipal Office of Mille Isles
Lake Barron Environmental Report
Lake Louisa Environmental Report
Government of Quebec – Minister of the Environment
Government of Ontario – Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources
FAPEL ( Féderation des associations pour la protections de l’environnement des lacs)
Government of Canada - Environment Canada
University of Minnesota – Understanding Shoreland Best Management Practices
Bio Services Laboratoire d’analyses environnementales
180, boul. Morin (Rte 117 N), Ste. Agathe des Monts (819) 326-8690
Giardia /Water Purification References
Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialities 2002 Water Treatment Methods
Dr. Steve Esrey, Senior Program Officer, Water and Sanitation Department, UNICEF
Les Infection en Garderie – Les Publications du Québec
Water Information - Adventure Gear – Sweet Water
Water Purification Techniques – Pure Water
General Giardia Information
The Canadian Green Guide, How You Can Help Save Our World, Teri Degler and
Pollution Probe, McClelland & Stewart Inc., Toronto, Ontario, 1990.
Environment Canada, Conservation and Protection Fact Sheets, Minister of Supply and
Services, 1990.
Living Near the Water, Environmental, Design for Shoreline Properties, John A. Stevens,
Illustrated by Ted Dyment, General Store Publishing House, Burnstown, Ontario,
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada
Environment Quebec
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