Much has changed since we sent out our Winter Newsletter; we are now truly living in challenging times. However, your Brandy Lake Association (BLA) Exec has been busy determining how we can best move forward considering the new realities of the pandemic. We held our first BLA Exec Meeting of the year by videoconference, a format that is undoubtedly a first for the BLA. We look forward to the start of the traditional cottage season and know that all of you do as well. The Mayors of Muskoka jointly wrote a letter with information of interest to those contemplating a trip to their cottage. The letter is available at the link above and is also on our website.
Much of the rest of this newsletter is dedicated to updating you on things that are changing or will be done differently as a result of COVID-19. Below you will find information on water testing for 2020, an update on BLA activities for this year, follow-up on other activities and new information that we hope is of use to you.
President, Brandy Lake Association
Water Testing for 2020
The water testing program run through the Muskoka Lakes Association (MLA) has been cancelled, by the MLA, for 2020. Through our participation in this program in previous years, we have sampled for bacteria at 10 locations around the lake during June, July and August, and at one location for phosphorous in May. The Lake Partners Program (LPP) is also not going to be run this year. Through the LPP, we sampled for phosphorous at two locations on the lake from May to October. Since we have the testing kit from LPP, we plan to take a spring water sample to be analyzed for phosphorous at a later date.
As a result of the pandemic and the resulting physical distancing requirements, the BLA Executive has decided to cancel our annual social, which was to occur on July 25. In its place, we are planning less structured events that will allow for socializing while respecting physical distancing. Our plans on this are still evolving but we anticipate having events during July that will have a unique “cottage” focus. Details will be forthcoming in June or July.
Physical distancing requirements will also preclude us from running the BLA Kids’ Regatta in the format that we have followed for the last few years. We are still planning to organize a kids oriented water event that will incorporate physical distancing. Plans for this are also being developed and more information will be provided shortly.
The BLA AGM is still planned for August 29th but the precise format of this is to be determined. Our traditional AGM format will undoubtedly have to be altered for this year. We continue to explore options for this and will finalize our decision on the format closer to the date as the rules on what activities are allowed continue to evolve.
Blue Green Algae Reported on Brandy Lake – Summary of 2019 Testing Events
As you are all probably aware, Brandy Lake was the host to a blue green algae event in September 2019. Tests were conducted between September 6th and November 15th last year, and all of the tests confirmed that the algae was a non-toxic species. The following is a brief summary of last year’s testing and chronology of events, as well as some information about algae and some best practices for all Brandy Lake residents to consider.
Chronology of 2019 Events
- First test was completed by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) on Sept. 6th in the west end of the lake. MECP confirmed with the Brandy Lake Association in late September that the algae was a non-toxic species.
- Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) posted a media release about the sampling on Sept. 12. At this time, the second part of the test, to confirm toxicity, was not completed.
- MECP returned to Brandy Lake on Sept. 24th and sampled a second time, this time in Falkenberg Bay. At the time of the sampling, MECP indicated that there was not enough algae to consider it a “bloom” but did take a second sample.
- Both September sampling events were non-toxic and included only one species, the same species that was observed on Brandy Lake in 2003.
- MECP returned to Brandy Lake in early November and sampled a third time. The results of these final tests were also non-toxic, and as a result, SMDHU lifted the alert re Brandy Lake on December 12th.
Important Overall Points to Consider
While it is important to know that blue green algae were documented in Brandy Lake in 2019, the following information provides additional context to the 2019 sampling:
- Lakes like Brandy Lake (dystrophic lakes that are tea stained with lots of dissolved carbon and poor light penetration) are not generally known for having blue green algae blooms. The last recorded blue green algae event on Brandy was in 2003.
- Phosphorus is an important component in the occurrence of algae blooms; phosphorus (and nitrogen) are required for the algae to grow.
- Conditions that encourage algal blooms often include:
- Sufficiently high levels of nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) in the water or sediments
- Calm weather
- Strong sunlight
- High air and surface water temperatures
- Other factors that may affect algal blooms include wind, major rainfall events, and spring flood conditions.
- Phosphorus in Brandy Lake has been generally decreasing. This is identified in the regular spring water sampling conducted by the Association.
How Can Brandy Lake Residents manage Brandy Lake to Reduce Nutrients?
Human activity can contribute to high nutrient levels in lakes. It is very important that all Association members participate in activities that promote continued lake health especially with respect to the shoreline areas, such as:
- Do not remove aquatic vegetation from the lake; vegetation plays an important role in the uptake of phosphorus and other nutrients, making it unavailable to the algae in the lake.
- Ensure that plant material (grass clippings, brush, yard waste, etc.) are not stored near, or disposed of in, the lake. This adds nutrients to the lake, which increases nutrients available to algae.
- Ensure that your shoreline is not eroding. Planting vegetation along the shoreline helps stabilize the soil and makes it more resistant to erosion, which adds nutrients to the lake.
- Ensure that you perform regular maintenance on your septic tank. Leakage could be a contributing factor to the increase of unfavorable nutrients (particularly nitrogen) in the lake.
Members of the BLA Executive
The following are the current members of the BLA Executive
President Don Burn
Past President Daniela von Bredow
Secretary Moreen Miller
Treasurer Linda Mathers
Membership Derek Stevens
Directors at Large Jon De Veth, Margrit Kroll, Jeff McBain
The BLA Executive can be contacted through: firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone interested in joining the BLA Executive should contact us.