Springtime Environmental Tips
With the arrival of spring flowers and warmer temperatures, many of us are busy getting our cottages and residences ready for summertime activities. As we perform this annual ritual, we must remember that spring cleaning in the country brings with it some extra environmental challenges and concerns as well as opportunities to become more responsible environmental stewards. The following are some things you should consider as you prepare your homes and properties for summer1:
- Check your property to see whether spring runoff has adversely affected any of your installations, including your septic system.
- If so, hire an expert to prepare a drainage plan that can be implemented in the fall.
- Ensure that you have municipal approval for any associated work.
- Conserve water to reduce the volume going into your septic leaching bed. High spring water tables and saturated ground may reduce the effectiveness of your system.
- If you suspect that the water table is higher than your septic leaching bed, contact a septic system inspector as you could be contaminating surface water.
- Avoid muddy driveways. Rake out ruts before they dry and harden.
- Use planks or boards to create temporary walkways. This will help to both reduce soil compaction and keep the mud outside your house and car.
- To prevent damage to the shoreline, don’t put your dock into the water until the ground has hardened.
- Remove man-made garbage as it can harm wildlife and their habitat. However, leave nature’s debris in place (e.g.: logs, branches, and trees that have washed up on your shoreline or beach). Resist collecting such debris for firewood as it can help prevent shoreline erosion
- Get your boat ready to launch by thoroughly cleaning it and your trailer well away from the waterway. Use suds only on land, far from the lake. Once your boat is in the water, get rid of the cleaners and use old-fashioned elbow grease.
- Apply bottom wax to your hull at least once a season.
- Consider replacing your old two-stroke engine with a low-emission model. Match engine power to boat size. Tune up your engine and keep it tuned up all summer long.
- Plan to be a “green boater” - don't churn up the lake bottom or create wakes that can erode the shoreline (don't operate your boat at more than 10 kph within 30 meters of the shore).
- Better yet, stop burning dollars and start burning calories by trading your motorized vessel for a canoe or kayak. This will help to improve both your health and that of the lake.
Gardening and Yard Maintenance
- When planning your gardening and yard maintenance, remember that, as of August 21st, 2011:
- all activities related to vegetative control including lawn mowing, the cleaning of brushwood, the felling of trees, and the spreading of fertilizer are prohibited on the shore;
- if the shore is not vegetated, measures must be taken to re-vegetate the area with brush cover and/or herbaceous plants;
- NB: the term shore refers to the strip of land bordering the waterway that extends inward from the high water mark. In general terms, the width of the shore to be protected is 10 meters where the slope of the shore is less than 30% and 15 meters where the slope of the shore is greater than 30%.3
- If you haven't already done so, start composting. This will provide you with an ecofriendly product that you can use to enhance plant growth while, at the same time, reducing the amount of garbage you send to the landfill.
Spring/Summer Renovations and Repairs
- If you are planning any repairs or renovations on or near the shoreline, consult your municipal inspector to ensure that your plans comply with local and regional regulations.
1 Several of the tips offered in this article originally appeared in "On the Living Edge: Your handbook for Waterfront Living" by Sarah Kipp and Clive Calloway as part of the Living by the Water project (www.livingbywater.ca)
2 See Cottage Life for more details: cottagelife.com/14128/boating/maintenance/5-ways-to-be-agreener-boater (Page no longer exists. 2017-11-29)
3 For more details regarding the MRC de La Vallée-de-la-Gatineau regulation re Shoreline Control, click here: www.associationbluesea.org/en/regulation