New booklets available
The Ministry of Environment and Energy has produced a series of five excellent booklets, Environmental Living: Protecting the Environment. You may order your free copies (we have already paid for them through our taxes) from the Ministry of the Environment, Public Information Centre, 133 St. Clair Avenue W, Toronto, Ontario, M4V 1P5 or call 323-4321 in Toronto or toll free from outside Toronto 1-800-565-4923.
Volume 1, In the Home, has some easy environmentally friendly cleaning product recipes as well as information on water use in Ontario; for example, 41 per cent of domestic municipal water is used to flush toilets. Volume 2, In Your Yard and Garden, has plans for composters and various alternatives to pesticides. Volume 3, Building Your Dream Cottage, will be after the fact for most of us but does contain updated information on the subject.
Volume 4, At the Cottage, has that perennially fascinating topic, septic systems, covered in detail. “Eventually, all septic tank systems must be re placed.” To prevent that unhappy and expensive day from happening too soon, conserve water, inspect tanks yearly and pump out at regular inter vals. Treat the bacteria in the tank kindly —no chlorine-based bleach products, no enzymes, no grease, no chemicals. In addition, do not use products containing phosphates which contribute to the growth of algae. (President’s Choice Green Care has a phosphate-free dishwasher product for those with dishwashers.)
Volume 4 also has some good news. The yellow powder floating on lakes in June is a natural and recurring feature - it’s pollen from evergreen trees.
Foam is also a natural product created when organic materials accumulate in lakes after heavy rains. When the materials break down, they produce compounds like the fatty acids in soap and foaming occurs. Volume 4 also contains a pointed reminder that all shoreline and water work requires a permit from the MNR.
Volume 5, In the Great Outdoors, reviews the mercury issue in fish. Air borne mercury has contaminated lakes far from industrial sources. It also contains warnings about some other not-so-nice matters. You can contact a parasitic disease called giardia (“beaver fever”) from ingesting water that has been contaminated by the feces of beaver and muskrat. “Swimmer’s itch” which occurred on Rotary Beach in Haliburton this summer is a temporary infection caused by a tiny flatworm larva called schistosome cercariae. Vectors for the larvae are snails and waterfowl. This condition can be prevented by towelling immediately and vigorously after swimming, by taking a shower right after swimming or by swimming in deeper water. If you do get “swimmer’s itch,” expect three days of miserable itching soothed by lashings of calamine lotion.