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Hague Lake beach
General News · 4th August 2014
Rex Weyler
The algae/bacteria blooms in the lakes have followed a typical ebb-and-flow pattern since the spring. As nutrients are available, the blooms grow, and as they deplete nutrients and oxygen, they die off. Our community has received tremendous support. Here is an update:

Tests: Dr. Eric Demers at Vancouver Island University, his student, and Rosie Barlak at Environment Canada are helping us devise and conduct a series of tests. Local residents will conduct temperature and turbidity tests. Dr. Demers’ student will conduct tests to determine oxidation, pH, nitrates and phosphates, e. coli levels, and the mix of algae, bacteria, and other organisms. They will then run bacteria sources tests, tracking DNA from bacteria to determine the source (i.e. human, animal, or bird sources).

Clearing the outflow: Environment Canada advised we wait until the fall. I have a good list of people who have volunteered to help.

Costs: FOCI is helping raise funds to pay for the tests. Carrie Saxifrage is organizing a fundraising swim of all the Cortes Island lakes. Residents can contribute by sponsoring the swimmers. Look for the posters and see info at the FOCI website.

Mushrooms filtration: Fungi specialist Paul Stamets and colleagues at Washington State University, have had success removing E. coli, toxins, and nutrients from ground water using mycelium beds that absorb and digest bacteria and nutrients as food. They have offered to help us install filtration beds in the watershed, and Stamets is donating the mycelium spawn. The beds use "Garden Giant" (Stropharia rugoso-annulata), a choice edible mushroom, so there is an side benefit of growing good fine food.

We need sites: With available spawn, we can probably establish 8-10 sites in the watershed, and we have 4 so far, so please let me know if you have a site for a mycelium bed in the Hague / Gunflint watershed. These filtration sites are simple, and can be installed with a small crew in a few hours.

Each site can be designed for the location, below a septic source. For a point source, such as a septic drain pipe or drain ditch, we’ll use a small tote system. For a general drain field or animal field, a mycelium bed is approximately 10 x 40 feet, dug down about 6-8 inches, filled with alder chips, into which we add the mushroom spawn. That’s it. After that, the mycelium simply eats up bacteria and nutrients, which are harmful to the lake.

We need alder chips: Please let me know if you can help supply alder chips. The chips can be mixed species, but must be low in cedar, and fairly fresh. Alder chips are perfect.

We are fairly confident, from what we have learned that the lake is receiving a nutrient/bacteria load from many sources, likely hundreds of sources, primarily our homes and farms. Lisa and I will install a mycelium bed below our septic field and believe we can reduce the nutrient/bacteria flow from our home to zero. In any case, there is likely a way for every home in the watershed to reduce the nutrient/bacteria flow. Here are some easy things to do first:

Top 5 things we can do in the watershed.

1. Pump your septic tank. Check for sludge and clean it out.
2. Plant any cleared area near the lakeshore (or put in a filtration site)
3. Eliminate out-houses; upgrade to a septic field.
4. Keep water flow from animal pens, compost all manure (and add a filtration site)
5. Avoid any phosphate cleaners.

Christian Gronau suggests using Cat Tails as lake shore vegetation. They are vigorous growers and will definitely preclude a large percentage of nutrients from getting into the lakes. Other native plant species will also help. Any plants are better than bare ground.


Thanks to Jason Andrews for posting these first two regarding septic maintenance:

1. Septic Care and Maintenance: simple practical steps you can take right now.

2. Septic - How it works/fails

3. Friends of Cortes Island (FOCI) lake info:

4. Mycelium (Mushroom) Filtration, Discovery magazine article:

Please let one of us know if you can provide a mushroom filtration site or if you can supply alder chips.
Rex: 935-0005, rexweyler1gmail
Leah: (