City should lead the way on phosphate ban
Re: "Phosphorus Debate Heats Up" — April 9.
The title of this article is correct, but the "debate" should not have happened at all.
When council established these advisory panels some 10 years ago, they specifically banned staff from being on these panels so that the general public had a ways and means of inputting their thoughts to council. Council, in turn, has a filter mechanism in place, the panel of experts, to ensure what they are reported to by these panels is accurate.
Stephen Monet, manager of Environmental Services for the city, dominated the Lake Advisory Panel meeting, disputing the chair of the Greater Sudbury Water Shed Alliance (GSWA), Lily Noble's presentation to the panel about a phosphate ban.
It was only a rebuttal from Coun. Terry Kett that stopped Monet at all.
Monet contends that a bylaw regarding a phosphate ban for lawn fertilizers is not required because he can do it by education alone.
In his presentation, Monet stated that the industry is regulating itself. He gave two examples — the removal of phosphates from laundry detergents and automatic dishwasher soaps.
Monet could not be more wrong. The only reason industry has removed these is because laws were passed to stop them from doing so.
Monet's other claim that the city cannot pass such a bylaw because of Ontario law is also not correct. The Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance has letters from the Ministry of Environment, the Ontario legislature legal office, and a copy of a
Supreme Court ruling that all say such a by law would stand.
Twelve lakes have fallen to blue-green algae in just four years — all due to phosphates being introduced by humans to local lakes that cannot deal with it and are failing. These lakes now have permanent warnings issued against them against drinking the water.
Monet also claimed that the city will have to hire city staff to enforce the ban. Kett said this claim was ridiculous, no extra staff would be required. We don't have extra staff to enforce a fire ban, do we?
Yes, it will be a brave move by our city council to be the first city in Ontario to have a lawn fertilizer phosphate ban, but I'm sure we can do it. Others will follow. Nothing wrong in being a leader of the pack.
Chair, Long Lake Stewardship Sudbury
Phosphorus fertilizer ban recommended by group
The Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance is planning to make a presentation to the Greater Sudbury policy committee within the next month, and propose the city ban on phosphorus-based fertilizer.
Stephen Butcher, a member of the Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance and chair of the Long Lake Stewardship Committee, said the ban would stop the spread of blue-green algae in area lakes.
Butcher helped to form the Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance, which is comprised of all the lake stewardship committees in the Greater Sudbury area.
Butcher said there are two groups in Greater Sudbury working to protect drinking water — The Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance and the Drinking Water Source Protection Committee.
He said his group was formed to look at the lakes the Drinking Water Source Protection Committee doesn't, as that group focuses on municipal water sources and not individual sources.
“There's 20,000 of us out there with our own water sources that they can't address,” he said.
“(Those of us that are among the) 20,000 are the most vulnerable group because we don't have a multi-million dollar water filtration equipment system protecting our water, we just have individual systems which really can't address the blue-green algae problem.”
Blue-green algae contains toxins that impact the health of humans and animals. Liver cells can be damaged as a result of consuming water contaminated with blue-green algae.
Lilly Noble, co-chair of the Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance, made a presentation about the proposed ban at the Lakes Advisory Panel meeting April 7.
She said the group is only interested in banning lawn fertilizer that contains phosphorous.
“It's lawn fertilizer only,” she said. “It's not going to affect vegetable gardens or flower beds or tree planting.”
Noble said an education campaign would help citizens purchase products that would still benefit their property and protect water sources, but said education alone won't be enough to fix the problem.
“People don't think that their lawn affects a lake because it's five blocks away, but their storm water still goes directly into those lakes.”
Noble also said if citizens are getting ready to purchase fertilizer for their lawns, that there are plenty of options available to buy in Greater Sudbury that don't contain phosphorous.
“If you're going to fertilize, probably a soil test should be done first, because you may not need any type of fertilizer,” she said.
She said as Greater Sudbury is the “city of lakes,” it's important they be protected.
“We don't want to be the city of polluted lakes,” she said. “We want to be the city of clean, swimable, boatable, fishable, enjoyable lakes.”