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Hague-Gunflint watershed, map update by David Shipway
General News · 20th August 2014
Rex Weyler
We need Alder Chips: If you can help supply alder chips, or if you have an available chipper, please let me know ( or 935-0005). We need the chips for bio-filtering sites going in below septic fields, around the lakes.

Good news: Eric Demers, a lake biologist from Vancouver Island University, visited this week. We took water samples from both lakes, which will provide a detailed profile of what algae, bacteria, and plankton species reside in our lake, lake acidity, oxygen levels, and so forth. We will eventually do tests that track bacteria source, that is, from humans, sheep, horses, or other animals. We will then better know where to focus our attention.

The good news is this: Dr. Demers told us, from his observations so far, that these lakes are relatively healthy, although they are experiencing algae & bacteria bloom cycles. He tells us that we are responding early and correctly. He advised us to continue with our remedies – septic upgrades, bio-filtering, eliminate phosphate cleaners, replant cleared lake-front, convert outhouses, etc – and believes we should be able to stabilize the algae bacteria blooms, and even reverse the trend.

In other words, we're approaching this correctly, and because we are acting early, we have time to respond sensibly, without panic. He told us of visiting lakes that were much farther along in the process of algae growth and depleted oxygen, and therefore much more difficult to reverse the trend toward high algae content, known as eutrophication.

We learned a lot about lake biology. I found this interesting: We looked at the deep bottom sediment (from 19-meters deep in Gunflint) and learned that these lakes are filling with natural silt sediment at the rate of about 1-millimeter per year. This means that in the 10-12-thousand years since the glaciers receded, these lakes have filled up with about 10-12 meters of sediment. So Gunflint, now about 20-meters deep, was once about 30 meters deep. In another thousand years, it will fill up another meter. This spring we’re going to study this sort of lake ecology with some of the Cortes students.

We will continue the tests over the next year, and watch the algae blooms in the spring. Over several years, we will gain a good picture of the lake’s health. Thanks to Friends of Cortes for supporting the costs of these tests. You can help with a donation to the 9-lake swim on Aug. 24.

In the meantime, our community will be wise to make every effort to reduce nutrient flow into the lakes.

pump & upgrade septic fields
eliminate outhouses
plant any cleared lake-front
reduce fertilizers and phosphate cleaners
install septic bio-filtering fields
isolate animal manure from run-off

And .. you can help by supplying fresh alder chips, loaning a chipper, or helping install the bio-filtering beds.

Thank you for reading, staying informed, and helping to care for the lakes.

Rex Weyler

Please click here to sponsor/donate to the 9-lake swim on Aug. 24.
Hague Lake
Hague Lake
The divine swimming holes.
Comment by yvonne kipp on 22nd August 2014
For years, now swimming in Hague and Gunflint lakes, has been an enchanted and sacred activity. The intensity of moving from one element into another element the moment of entry into water is a reminder of our evolution and a moment of awakening.

Thank you all of us for rallying! What great news about how early we have been in our reaction and action and in our standing by Mother Nature. The SWIM is a unique melding of human and nature.
See you all at the Party after the SWIM!!!
Great work Rex
Comment by Richard Yensen on 22nd August 2014
Thanks so much for your work on this! I love that investigations into the lake situation and its remedies will immediately affect early education on Cortes!

Are you involved with Paul Stamets in the biofiltration work?