section three- main page
Lake Water Quality
Water quality surveys (physical, chemical and biological measurements) were conducted on Yoho Lake in 1975, 1976, 1979 and 1984-1991.
Water samples were collected at four station on the lake which were located to indicate long-term background water quality. Surface water was sampled for bacteria, while both the surface and deeper waters where sampled for the remainder of the parameters. Water samples for bacterial analyses were taken at the surface at near shore locations to detect any local effects of shoreline development.
Dissolved oxygen, temperature and secchi depth were measured in the field. Fecal coliform bacteria analyses were completed at the regional laboratory, Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital, Fredericton. The remaining parameters were analyzed at the N.B. Department of the Environment Laboratory in Fredericton.
The water quality guidelines are based primarily on the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines (Canadian Council of "Resource and Environment Ministers 1987) and water Quality Sourcebook (Mcneely, Neimanis and Dwyer 1979). They represent levels which will protect aquatic life from all effects, both lethal and sub-lethal.
With the exception of copper and lead, all parameter measured in each were within guideline values. Copper exceeded the guideline of 0.002 mg/l in 1988,1990 and 1991. The high copper values in 1988 were found to be due to contamination of sample bottles. While maximum values in 1990 and 1991 exceeded the guideline, median values were well below the guideline. Furthermore, maximum values were well below the 0.02 mg/l concentration considered to be acutely toxic to fish (International Technical Advisory Sub-committee on Water Quality on the Saint John River 1980). Similarly, maximum values of lead exceeded the 0.001mg/l guideline in 1984 and 1991, but medians were acceptable. Maximum values were again below acutely toxic limit of 0.03mg/l .
There appears to be no major trends in the concentrations of the various parameters between 1975 and 1991. Total dissolved solids, conductivity, chloride, sodium and potassium exhibited what appear to be slight increases. If real, these could have been caused by winter road salting, annual variations in the lake's flushing rate , or a combination of both. They would not be considered to be significant at this point time, but may bear watching in the future.
Alkalinity and pH which are affected by acid rain, showed few changes with no indication of a downward trend.
Total Phosphorus appears to have declined somewhat in 1990 and 1991, but the change may have been due to improved laboratory procedures which reduced the tendency for phosphorus measurements to be biased high.
Further details are available in the Department of Environment publication report on Water Quality.
Reprinted from the Yoho Lake Nature Trail Guide and Department of the Environment Water Quality Report
Some Water Quality and Other Links of Interest:
Boating and Invasive Species
Clean, Drain and Dry your boat.
Protect Your Waters and Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!
Protecting these resources is an important part of our overall enjoyment. A concern we must all address is the spreading of harmful plants, animals and other organisms. These aquatic nuisance species can hitch a ride on our clothing, boats, and items used in the water. When we go to another lake or stream, the nuisance species can be released. And, if the conditions are right, these introduced species can become established and create drastic results.
So what can we do? By following a simple procedure each time we leave the water, we can stop aquatic hitchhikers. Knowing which waters contain nuisance hitchhikers is not as important ---- as doing the procedure every time we leave any lake, stream or coastal area.
Phosphorus StorySource: Excerpts from a publication of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
Human Activity and Phosphorus Pollution
When human activity such as land clearing, farming, building roads and sewage discharge occur, the natural rate at which the lakes fill in with sediment increases dramatically from thousands of years to just a few years. In addition, the water quality of the lakes is degraded, sometimes very rapidly and suddenly. This is called “cultural eutrophication.”
By far the most serious pollution problem for Maine and New Brunswick lakes is phosphorus pollution. Phosphorus is a natural element found in soil, but is also found in concentrated form in fertilizers, detergents, manure and sewage. It is carried into lakes by rainwater. When roads, houses and lawns replace trees, shrubs and natural terrain, the flow of rainwater increases in volume and speed. As a result a lake may receive up to ten times as much phosphorus from a developed area as from a naturally forested area. Development or activities anywhere in the watershed can result in phosphorus releases that are carried miles and have a major effect on lake’s phosphorus level and it’s quality.
Effects of Phosphorus
Once in a lake, phosphorus (the same element found in fertilizers) nourishes algae, microscopic plants. As phosphorus levels rises, algae multiply. Then the algae die, fall to the bottom, decompose, and, in doing so, deplete the oxygen in the lake water. The loss of oxygen frees up other phosphorus previously trapped on the lake bottom , and an intensifying cycle results.
In a cold, clear lake the loss of oxygen causes deep-water trout and salmon to die. In a lake with high phosphorus, algal blooms cloud the water, more fish may die, and unpleasant odors and tastes result. Such a lake is no longer desirable for swimming and boating, and property values plummet. Phosphorus pollution is the major cause of cultural eutrophication in lakes. Many lakes are considered at risk of algal blooms if phosphorus continues to increase.
Lakes may never recover their water quality once they are polluted. Restoration is very expensive and may not be effective. Water quality can be improved through watershed management strategies such as sewage diversion or treatment, erosion controls (shoreline protection and road construction measures), and improved farming and fertilizer practices. It is more prudent to protect the lakes than to try treating problems once they have occurred.
Some Local Links of Interest:
Local Responsibility and Long Term Commitment
Lake protection is a local and individual responsibility. It isn’t a one-shot deal. A plan alone isn’t enough. Regulation isn’t enough. A one time clean up is not enough. Lake protection requires long-term, ongoing commitment to monitoring, to enforcing, to updating plans, to investing in maintenance and to educating fellow residents. Lake protection is new, is needed and is and essential investment in our future.
Each lake is different in its capacity to absorb new phosphorus. It depends on the lake size, depth, shape, watershed and current phosphorus load.
Planning for Protection
Planning for lake protection involves six basic steps:
1. Select lake protection level
2. Map and inventory the watershed, map existing and approved development, un developable land. Determine the acreage developed, un developable and that which is available for new development.
3. Estimate future development.
4. Determine phosphorus goal
5. Address special issues such as timber harvesting, and environmentally sensitive areas.
6. Develop policies - describe economic, aesthetic, natural, and recreational values; delineate the watershed; lay out existing and projected development. Then set forth policies for future development – the phosphorus per acre goal, as well as those addressing special conditions. These policies and issues can be incorporated in the land use plan and protection programs. Each new development proposal should be evaluated based on the phosphorus.
Land Use Planning
Revisions to the Land Use Planning in N.B.
Recent revisions to the land use planning process in New Brunswick include developing rural plans for unincorporated communities and rural planning district commissions. In related news, the Department of the Environment has introduced a Water Classification Regulation (includes lakes) for management of watershed.
Local Service District
An Introduction to Our Communities - Our Future Initiative Steps for Becoming a Rural Community Some Questions and Answers
Rural Community Model fact sheets
Fact Sheet # 1 - Local Governance: Current Structure and New Opportunities Fact Sheet # 2 - The Rural Community Model Fact Sheet # 3 - Process for Becoming a Rural Community Fact Sheet # 4 - Functions of a Rural Community Fact Sheet # 5 - Contact Information and Resources
Rural Planning Documents
Rural Planning and Working Group Meeting Minutes
Water Classification Regulation
Environmentally Sensitive Areas
Work in progress...
Several areas of significance exist in the Greater Harvey Lakes area. Yoho Lake is part of the Greater Harvey Lakes area. The Nature Trust of New Brunswick maintains a database of these sites. These sites must fufill any of a number of criteria, including: contains a high diversity of plant and/or animal communities, is home to a rare and vunerable, a unique, or a distinct species of wildlife, or supports a core population of a rare species. Addititionally, Ducks Unlimited have created several wetlands, which are managed for waterfowl habitat.
The Greater Harvey Lakes area is divided into six major sectors. Clicking on each section will bring up that section. Information on Ducks Unlimited sites and Nature Trust Environmentally Significant areas can be obtained by clicking the corresponding symbol. Descriptions of Category 1, 2 and 3 refer to the most important features of the site.
Yoho Lake Watershed Area
What is a Watershed?
Simply put it is a catchment or drainage basin. "Water runs downhill" and a watershed is a land area whose runoff drains into any stream, river, lake and ocean.
A drainage basin is a region of land where water from rain or snow melt drains downhill into a body of water, such as a river, lake, dam, estuary, wetland, sea or ocean.
All land is part of a watershed and we all live in a watershed.
As water flows downhill in small to progressively larger streams and rivers, it moves over land and provides water for urban, agricultural and environmental needs. The watershed community is made up of everyone who lives there plus all other plant and animal life.
We, as humans along with plant and animal life depend on the watershed and influence it in some way.
A watershed collects water from rainfall, it stores water of various amounts, it releases water as runoff, it provides diverse sites for chemical reactions to take place and it also provides habitat for floral and fauna.
Human activities affect all of the functions of a watershed. It is up to us to improve and protect our watersheds for the generations to come.
Rain falling on any part of a watershed will slowly make its way down into streams, and then into rivers, until it flows to the sea. Development anywhere in a watershed can have an impact on the water that flows through it. But it doesn’t need to if it’s done right.
That’s where good planning comes in.
Watershed Maps or Drainage AreasMap of Yoho Lake Watershed
The Yoho Lake Watershed is part of a larger Watershed. Infact it is part of the Oromocto Watershed which is nearly 1/2 the size of Prince Edward Island and occupies space in four counties, Sunbury, York, Charlotte and Queens. It is located in Southwestern New Brunswick, Canada. This drainage area is approximately 2500 square kilometers.
Everything is connected, so one change in one area can affect other areas. Because drainage basins are coherent entities in a hydrological sense, it has become common to manage water resources on the basis of individual basins.
Some Links of Interest:
Water Pollution, a Harvey High School (HHS) Student Project.
Mining and Natural Resources
Work in progress...
The first comprehensive search for radioactive minerals in the province was conducted by the Geological Survey of Canada less than 50 years ago (Gross, 1957). Approximately 35 primary uranium occurrences are known in the province, and several more contain anomalous levels of radioactivity and uranium minerals associated with other commodities. Detailed information on these occurrences is included in the New Brunswick Mineral Occurrence Database, where each locality is identified by a unique record number (URN).
In addition to detailed geological maps covering most prospective areas, multi parameter airborne geophysical surveys including radiometrics, electromagnetics and magnetics are available for much of the province. The most recent surveys are available as contour and/or colour interval maps at 1:20 000 and 1:50 000 scales. The gamma-ray survey coverage is shown in Fig.1. In this linked .pdf. In case you thought those Helicopters were looking for Weed, they may have been, but with the high price of Uranium previous uneconomical finds have reintensified activity and searchs for new and old finds. Page 6 of the .pdf puts a find of Stratabound Volcanogenic in the Harvey Area.
Tamarack Lake and Cranberry Lake properties where anomalous uranium values have been reported in stream sediments from surveys by the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources and the Geological Survey of Canada.
For a detailed claim map, click an individual NTS block.
Blocks 15 is for sure in the Yoho Lake Watershed Area along the top of the Yoho Lake Scout Property. It also covers a marsh which is protected. The other claims are also along a marsh and stream that is protected as Environmentally Sensitive Areas under Wetlands, Category 1. If some are not they should be.
They should also be covered Provincially by the Clean Environment Act, the Clean Water Act, Water Classification Regulation, as well as Federally under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, among others.
Block 10 is outside the Yoho Lake Watershed, but also encroches a marsh and stream that is protected as Environmentally Sensitive Areas under Wetlands, Category 1.
They should also be covered Provincially by the Clean Environment Act, the Clean Water Act, Water Classification Regulation, as well as Federally under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, among others.
The following list provides a brief explanation of the Acts, Regulations and Policies pertaining to mineral and petroleum resources that are administered by the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources. The list is provided for general information only and should not be considered complete. For legal use, reference is to be made to the specific legislation.
On March 20, 1997, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act was enacted by the House of Commons. The Act replaced the Atomic Energy Control Act of 1946 and came into force on May 31, 2000.
When considering making certain licensing decisions, the CNSC is subject to environmental assessment obligations and responsibilities under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), which is the basis for federal environmental assessment (EA) in Canada.
Other Sources of Infomation are found in the CanadaGazette, the official newspaper for the Government of Canada since 1841,
and the QueensPrinter, the only official site for New Brunswick Acts and regulations.
Some Links of Interest:
Uranium exploration ban now official in N.B - "In reaction to widespread public concerns over uranium exploration, the province has also changed the way mining companies can acquire mineral rights by replacing the former ground-staking method with a new electronic online map-staking system ."
Clean Lake Tips
Lake water in Yoho Lake arrives by several sources. Excluding direct snow and rain fall, it flows over land catchment areas, by hills through forests, into wetlands, and arrives at Yoho Lake via streams, springs, and underground springs. It may bypass farms and several homesteads. Ultimately we all use the water and we are all responsible for its quality and the overall lake quality that residents and stake holders use for swimming, fishing, boating, and drinking water. Only the thoughtful actions of many committed people, especially the Yoho Lake community, will keep our Lake the cleanest it can be for years to come.
These following tips are a collection contributed by other Lake Stake holders across Canada and the US, but apply equally to Yoho Lake. They have been broken down into several specific headings to show just how each type of user can be more careful in their use of the Lake as a Natural Resource that is shared by all. These tips cover:
- elected officials, policy makers, pet owners, businesses, citizens, visitors, farmers, boaters, and anglers.
Here's What You Can Do:
* Reduce your pollution contribution
In your home, in your yard, in your business, and in your community, be creative about ways you can decrease pollution in Yoho Lake.
* Choose and use non-toxic alternatives
Encourage merchants to offer non-toxic products in the stores where you shop. Use non-toxic alternatives and recipes (they are often cheaper).
* Store and dispose of all toxic products properly
If you must use toxic materials, never dump them in the trash or pour them down the drain! They can kill aquatic organisms and ruin drinking water (as well as swimming and fishing). Learn which products contain toxic materials. For information on household hazardous products (and disposal options) Call 453-9938 Fredericton Region Solid Waste Commission or 453-3700 Department of the Environment .
* Strive for lake-friendly design
Design your home and lifestyle with Yoho Lake in mind. Landscape to filter surface runoff. Improve drainage in your yard to encourage infiltration of runoff into the soil. Design your home to decrease the need for toxics, phosphates, and pesticides.
* Get involved
Make the decision to be a part of the solution! Clean water in Yoho Lake depends on your actions, no matter who you are. Make a commitment to do your part. Every step is a step towards cleaner water.
Keep the Lake Clean in Your Household
Many household products kill aquatic organisms, are harmful to humans, taint drinking water, and ruin fishing and swimming. The Federal Hazardous Substances Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act both require that household containers of hazardous products be labeled with warning statements and safety information. To prevent these products from entering the Lake:
* Read the label.
Choose less toxic alternatives such as water-based paints and preservatives and earth pigment finishes. Use mechanical methods (such as scrubbing) over chemical methods whenever possible to avoid the need for toxic products. Use non-hazardous store-bought products that are phosphate free and biodegradable or homemade cleaners.
* If you have to buy toxic products, buy no more than you need.
Don't wash toxic products down the drain (see the Hazardous Waste Section for a list of what to avoid); ask your state hazardous materials specialist about the toxicity of any material.
* Use the dishwasher only when you have a full load.
Dishwasher detergents contain high phosphate levels! Although not toxic, excessive amounts of phosphates can lead to algae blooms, fish kills, and poor drinking water.
* Avoid using household pesticides.
Use equal parts of boric acid and powdered sugar to keep roaches away; use cedar chips instead of moth balls; use chili powder to prevent ant infestations. Discourage insects by using good housekeeping practices; keep windows and doors air-tight, seal cracks and keep food and water in sealed containers.
* Choose toilet paper that is dye-free and fragrance-free.
* Donate unused paint, cleaners, and hobby supplies to those who need them.
* Recycle light bulbs containing mercury such as fluorescent bulbs
(mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin for wildlife and people); call your state recycling hotline to find out about the next collection program.
Keep the Lake Clean from Your Yard
Many lawn and landscaping practices effect water quality. To help keep the Lake clean:
* Mow grass with a sharp blade and never mow more than one third of grass height during one cut. Leave grass clippings on the yard to provide nutrients to the lawn.
* Plant native species - most require less fertilizer and less watering.
* Landscape with native plants to control erosion on slopes.
* Compost organic matter by recycling leaves, grass clippings and organic kitchen scraps to make fertilizer.
* Keep plants healthy by improving soil quality with peat moss, bone meal, and compost.
* Maintain a healthy vegetated buffer along the river or lake (the wider the better), if you live along a shoreline.
* Use pest control alternatives that are safe for all of us such as insecticidal soaps and dormant oil sprays. Time plantings to avoid peak insect infestations. Use mulch. Plant pest repellent plants such as marigold, mint and garlic. Rotate your garden crops. Hand pick insect pests early each morning. Spray plants with water from a hose every 3 days for 9 days to knock off aphids and spider mites and interrupt their egg cycle.
* Use only half the prescribed amount of fertilizer (if you must use it at all). Never apply fertilizer to frozen ground or before or during a rainstorm (fertilizer is a major source of phosphate, which is harmful to the Lake in excessive amounts). After use, avoid over watering so that the fertilizer doesn't runoff into a nearby stream or storm drain.
* When draining your swimming pool remember to take full advantage of the filtering capacity of the soil. Chlorine will volatilize from water if you let it set for a few days or a week before draining a pool. Chlorine is highly toxic to aquatic life - prevent it from contaminating nearby streams or storm drains!
Keep the Lake Clean from Your Boat and Car
Many products and activities associated with boats and cars are harmful to the Lake. To make sure these are minimized:
* Use phosphate-free soap and detergent.
Rinse and scrub your boat with a brush after each use - this decreases the amount of soap you use. Avoid products that remove stains and make your car or boat shine - they can be extremely toxic. Products with warnings on the label can kill aquatic life if washed overboard or into waterways.
* Use less toxic, propylene glycol-based anti-freeze rather than ethylene glycol-based anti-freeze (check vehicle warranty).
* Recycle or dispose of harmful vehicular fluids by taking them to hazardous waste collection centers.
* Use non-toxic cleaners for your boat whenever possible.
Choose less toxic paint, and anti-fouling compounds. Use only what you need; dispose of properly by taking to hazardous waste collection centers.
* Be cautious when adding fuel, don't overfill or spill it!
* Don't dump human or pet waste into the Lake!
* Drive less - cars pollute!
Carpool, bike, run, or roller-blade to work. The average car emits 800 pounds of pollution into the air each year, and much of this finds its way into the Lake.
Keep the Lake Clean in Your Business Life
Businesses play a big role in keeping the Lake clean. To help with this effort:
* Educate your employees and co-workers about Clean Lake Tips.
* Make sure the businesses you work with dispose of wastes properly.
* Ask other businesses to adopt Clean Lake practices.
* Ask merchants to carry products that are ecologically safe.
* Shop at places that encourage protection of the Lake and The Environment, i.e. Shop Green.
Keep the Lake Clean in Your Community
No matter what community you live in, to help keep the Lake clean you can:
* Clean up pet waste and flush down a toilet.
Pet wastes are a source of pathogens and phosphates which are both harmful to the Lake.
* Teach your friends and elected officials about actions that will help keep Yoho Lake clean.
* Urge your town to adopt Clean Lake practices.
* Encourage the maintenance of wide, vegetated buffers along lake and river shores.
* Request that your town eliminate or minimize the use of fertilizers and pesticides, especially in areas close to rivers and lakes.
* Encourage the use of porous asphalt in your community to increase the absorption ability.
* Donate products to friends, neighbors, or community groups instead of throwing them out.
Some Hazardous Wastes
Hazardous waste is any material that poses a risk to people or the environment when disposed of improperly. Federal laws do not cover hazardous materials generated in Canadian homes from consumer products. Many household products are harmful if used or disposed of improperly. They contain chemicals that are toxic (poisonous) and or caustic (causing burns) to people, plants and animals. Some of these products are toxic in small amounts, other can accumulate to very toxic levels in the environment. The continuous accumulation of small amounts of toxic substances can create significant problems over time. Since there is little regulation of the disposal of these products, it is up to each one of us to clean up our own contribution of hazardous waste.
* Avoid cleaning products containing lye, petroleum distillates, naphthas, trichloroethane, phenols, dichlorobenzene often found in car cleaners, deodorizers, household cleaners, polishes and spot removers.
* Avoid herbicides and pesticides; these products can be deadly to birds, insects and aquatic life.
* Avoid paint thinners and strippers, lacquers, brush cleaners, turpentine and wood preservative products that contain toxicants such as lead (in old paint), methyl-chloride, pentachlorophenol, toluene and trichloroethane. These substances are highly toxic to people and animals.
Some Non-Toxic Recipes to Keep You and Your Environment Healthier
Set out vinegar or baking soda in an open dish. Simmer whole spices or potpourri in water on stove. Burn scented candles.
BATHROOM CLEANER (General Use)
Use a solution of one part vinegar to four parts water.
For fresh stains pour on a little club soda, let stand, sponge up. For older stains, mix 2 tablespoons dishwashing detergent, 3 tablespoons vinegar, and 1 quart warm water. Work into stain and blot as dry as possible.
Use ketchup to clean and remove tarnish from copper.
Pour 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of baking soda followed by a kettle of hot water down the drain. Use a plunger or metal snake.
Mix 1 part lemon juice with one part olive or vegetable oil. Let stand for several hours and then polish.
Mix 3 parts water with 1 part vinegar.
Use 1/2 cup either baking soda, Borax or white vinegar.
Use a combination of 1 quart warm water, 1 teaspoon liquid soap,
1 teaspoon Borax to clean counters, floors, etc.
Wipe up spills soon after they occur with a paste of baking soda, salt, and water.
Sprinkle cornstarch on rug and vacuum off.
Rub area with baking soda or table salt on a wet sponge.
TOILET BOWL CLEANER
Use a toilet brush with baking soda or pour 1/4 cup Borax or 2 Vitamin C tablets into water and let stand overnight before flushing.
TUB AND SINK CLEANER
Rub with lemon. For bad stains make a paste of peroxide and cream of tartar; scrub with a small brush.
Mix 1/2 cup mild detergent with 2 cups boiling water. Cool until a jelly forms. Whip with hand beater for stiff foam.
For a more complete list see:
Household Hazardous Products Alternatives
Well Water Quality
A Guide to Well Water Treatment and Maintenance
Typically, groundwater is naturally clean and safe for consumption. Because the overlying soil acts as a filter, groundwater is usually free of disease-causing microorganisms. However, contamination may occur following improper installation of well casings or caps, after a break in the casing or as a result of contaminated surface water entering the well. Contamination can also occur if wells are drilled in fractured bedrock without an adequate layer of protective soil and with less than the recommended minimum casing length.
In order to prevent illness, wells should be properly maintained and the water regularly tested for the presence of microbial contaminants. Well water should also be tested occasionally for possible inorganic and organic chemical contaminants.
Proper sitting, location, construction and maintenance of your well will help to minimize the likelihood of contamination. The well cap should be checked regularly to ensure that it is securely in place and watertight. Joints, cracks and connections in the well casing should be sealed. Pumps and pipes should also be checked on a regular basis, and any changes in water quality should be investigated.
Surface drainage should be directed away from the well casing, and surface water should not collect near the well. The well itself should not be located downhill from any source of pollution.
Well water should be tested for bacteriological quality regularly and for chemical contamination if it is suspected. In addition to regular tests, well water should be tested immediately if there is any change in its clarity, color, odor or taste, or if there has been a change in the surrounding land use. Through regular assessment and testing of drinking water, the microbial and chemical safety of your well water can be verified.
Testing Well Water for Microbiological Contamination
New wells should be disinfected by the well driller at the time of construction to eliminate any microbiological contamination that may have occurred during drilling. This should be done before collecting a sample for microbiological testing. Existing wells should be tested two or three times a year. The best time to sample your well water is when the probability of contamination is greatest. This is likely to be in early spring just after the thaw, after an extended dry spell, following heavy rains or after lengthy periods of non-use.
Bacteriological testing of well water is done either by the public health laboratory in your area or by a certified private laboratory. They will supply you with a clean, sterile sample bottle and the necessary instructions. Samples collected in any other container will not yield meaningful results and will not be accepted by the laboratory. In all instances, samples should be refrigerated immediately and transported to the laboratory within 24 hours.
If you have experienced gastrointestinal illness and suspect that it might be associated with your well water, consult your physician and local health clinic.
Interpreting the Results of Water Well Testing
The microbiological quality of your water is determined by looking for the presence of bacteria indicative of fecal (sewage) contamination — namely, total coliforms and Escherichia coli. Total coliforms occur naturally in soil and in the gut of humans and animals. Thus, their presence in water may indicate fecal contamination. E. coli are present only in the gut of humans and animals. Their presence therefore indicates definite fecal (sewage) pollution.
The presence of total coliform bacteria in well water is a result of surface water infiltration or seepage from a septic system. Drinking water should not contain more than 10 total coliform bacteria per 100 mL of water. Any water containing more than this amount should be resampled. If the repeat sample contains more than 10 total coliform bacteria per 100 mL, corrective action should be taken immediately.
Water containing fewer than 10 total coliform bacteria per 100 mL is considered marginally safe to drink. Nevertheless, the water should be resampled. If fewer than 10 total coliform bacteria per 100 mL are detected, the cause of contamination should be determined if possible and corrective action taken as appropriate.
E. coli appear in water samples recently contaminated by fecal matter; thus, they indicate the possible presence of disease-causing bacteria, viruses or protozoa. Water containing E. coli is not safe to drink. Corrective action should be taken immediately.The maximum acceptable concentration of E. coli is “0” per 100 mL of water.
Corrective Action for Water that Does Not Meet the Recommended Guidelines
If test results show an unacceptable level of total coliforms or E. coli, it is necessary to shock treat the well and, if possible, find and eliminate the source of contamination. Disinfection can be done using unscented household bleach. Table 1 outlines the quantity of bleach required to properly disinfect new and existing wells. If the source of contamination cannot be found and eliminated, the water should subsequently receive continuous disinfection.
Steps for Chlorine Disinfection
1. Add the amount of unscented bleach determined in Table 1 to the bottom of the well and then agitate the water. Connect a garden hose to a nearby tap and wash down the inside wall of the well. This will ensure thorough mixing of the chlorine and the water throughout the well.
2. Start the pump and bleed air from the pressure tank. Open each tap and allow the water to run through all taps until a smell of chlorine is detected, then turn off the taps. If a strong smell is not detected, add more bleach to the well.
3. Allow the water to sit in the system for 12-24 hours.
4. Start the pump and run water through the outside hose away from grass and shrubbery until the strong smell of chlorine disappears. Make certain that the water does not enter any watercourse. Finally, open the indoor taps until the system is completely flushed.
5. Wait 48 hours, then sample the water using the instructions and bottle provided by the laboratory. In the meantime, find another source of water, or boil the water for one minute before drinking it. Two consecutive “safe” tests, performed on samples obtained over a period of one to three weeks, will probably indicate that the treatment has been effective.
6. If the shock treatment solves the problem, repeat bacteriological testing in three to four months.
7. If the above steps do not alleviate the problem, it is recommended that the source of the ongoing contamination be determined and corrected, possibly with professional help. If remediation is not possible, a permanent alternative solution, such as a new well or a drinking water disinfection device, should be considered.
* Individuals on sodium-restricted diets should consult their physician before drinking artificially softened water. Iron and manganese can also be removed by a softener, provided the water is not too hard.
Water Treatment Devices for Home Use
The typical water quality problems described below may be resolved by use of a drinking water treatment unit. There are a wide variety of such devices available for home use. Consumers are encouraged to purchase products that have been certified to these standards.
If elimination of the source of contamination is not possible after shock chlorine disinfection, consider the installation of a batch or continuous disinfection system or a new water supply. Some suitable devices are described in Table 2.
Hardness, Taste, Odor and Color
Well water contains naturally occurring minerals, such as calcium, iron and sulphur. Although these minerals are not hazardous to human health, they can alter the hardness, taste, odour or color of the water when present in excess quantities. Groundwaters may also contain natural organic materials (tannins). Table 4 describes some signs that may indicate the presence of these substances in your well water and some solutions. In order to select the best treatment method, a full testing of the suite of minerals should be conducted prior to the purchase of a device.
Water Softener Questions ?
Does a water softener have any harmful effect in the operation of a septic tank? The backwash and brining effluents from a softener can be discharged into a septic tank that is properly installed and of adequate size. Many provinces recommend units with a minimum of 500-gallon capacity, but even smaller units may provide adequate in relation to the amount of salt in the water. Tests show that mixtures of sodium, calcium, and magnesium salts as found in regeneration wastes do not hamper the digestion of sludge. Bacteria in the septic tank can become acclimated to the salt environment, with mixed salt concentrations up to 1 having no adverse effects. Even at concentrations of 1.2%, the digestive process slackens but returns to normal in a short time.
However never discharge into the lake. Even if you let the septic system handle the discharge. It wont remove the Chloride salts.
The big question is, What happens to the salts once they leave the septic system ? and How does the use of a softener affect the Lake Quality?
In California they are already concerned about the rising chloride levels and are adopting regional chloride objectives. Studies there have come up with this figure: The cost to remove the chloride from a single residential self-regenerating water softener operated for one year would be US $1,900 in 2001. This cost only entails taking the effluent and processing it directly. It does not include removing the salts from the environment if they are allowed to seep. The question is how do you remove it from the environment, once it has dispersed and affected the ecosystem ? If the lake water is potable currently why use well softeners from the start ? It may be simpler to treat lake water.
Generally all the softener has done is trade the Calcium and Magnesium ions that cause hardness for the Sodium ion. This leaves you with softer water with a higher Sodium content. This is not good for individuals susceptible to heart problems. As a side effect the backwash/effluent that goes into the septic tank and then the field and leeches into the environment, has higher concentration of Chloride ion, Sodium ion, and Magnesium and Calcium salts. As a side line, these are the same salts used for deicing roads. So they will have similar effects on Ground Water and Surface Water Systems. As summarized by an Environment Canada Report on Road Salts:
"Chloride ions are conservative, moving with water without being retarded or lost. Accordingly, almost all chloride ions that enter the soil and groundwater can ultimately be expected to reach surface water; it may take from a few years to several decades or more for steady-state groundwater concentrations to be reached".
The General Answer is DO NOT use them, they will harm vegetation may cause death to plants, corrosive causing damage to metal and other surfaces (causes car bodies to corrode), if tracked into the house is abrasive to the floors finishes and carpet, will rapidly move into surface and ground water (wells, ponds, steams and lakes). If they must be used, use them in moderation.
A copy of details can be found here, excerpts duplicated below for convenience.
Source: Rich Koenig, Soil Specialist
EFFECTS OF DEICING COMPOUNDS
Salt applied to surfaces may run off and enter soil, or be splashed by vehicles and snow plows onto the surface of vegetation adjacent to the treated area. In soil, salts reduce the availability of water to plants, and significantly increase water stress during spring and summer months. This effect has been referred to as chemical drought. Salts deposited directly on foliage may also burn and kill the affected parts, or the entire plant. This is commonly observed where salts from winter maintenance damage evergreen trees and shrubs adjacent to roadways. The sodium and chloride components in certain salts are especially damaging to vegetation.
Salts are corrosive and accelerate rusting of metal railings, grates, drains, and door frames, and underground utility lines if they are not properly protected. Salts may also cause scaling, or flaking of surface layers from concrete. Salt solutions enter void spaces in concrete and expand by 10 to 20% in volume when they freeze. The pressure exerted by this expansion fractures the surface of concrete. Porous brick, masonry, and natural stone are especially vulnerable to damage and should be avoided in areas where deicing salts are used. Concrete which is properly formulated for environments where freeze-thaw cycles are common resists scaling caused by deicing salts. Corrosion resistant paints and sealers will also minimize the impact of deicing compounds on the hardscape, and are recommended for areas where deicing salts are used .Indoor surfaces (floors and carpets). Residues from deicing chemicals are frequently tracked into buildings and deposited on floors and carpets. Salts degrade wax and other finishes,leaving a dull appearance on floors and requiring more frequent cleaning and maintenance of indoor surfaces. Sodium and potassium chloride salts are relatively easy to remove from floors and carpets. Calcium and magnesium chloride salts, however, leave a greasy film and require wet cleaning with detergents to remove the residue. Abrasive materials such as sand also mar the finish on floors and can be difficult to remove from carpets.
Salts move rapidly with water off surfaces and into the surrounding soil. If sufficient water is moving through the soil, components of the salt may leach to ground
water. Salt may also run off and enter surface waters, potentially degrading quality and killing fish and other organisms. Certain salts have greater potential for environmental damage than others. For example, nitrogen salts have a high risk for surface and ground water pollution while organic salts (calcium magnesium acetate, CMA) have a high risk for surface water pollution.
A summarizing statement from Environment Canada which produced a report on Road Salts called "Assessment Report - Road Salts" is highlighted below.
"Based on the available data, it is considered that road salts that contain inorganic chloride salts with or without ferro cyanide salts are entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity or that constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends. Therefore, it is concluded that road salts that contain inorganic chloride salts with or without ferro cyanide salts are "toxic" as defined in Section 64 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999)."
Public Safety vs. Environmental Damage? Even though deicing salts annually cause millions of dollars in damage to vegetation, hardscapes, vehicles, and the environment, their continued use is necessary to ensure public safety. Any decision to limit the use of deicing compounds should be based on an assessment of the impacts on public safety, organization liability and environmental integrity.
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