by Alan Coxwell
There has been some negative blowback from a few members of the LWRA Board of Directors about my publishing an opinion piece titled “My Latest Hydro Bill” a couple of days ago. There was also one positive comment in response to the piece from a fellow I do not know. As editor of the LWRA newsletter I believe this site should be an open forum for cottagers to report on anything they would like to concerning our cottage experience on Limerick and the adjoining lakes.
Obviously this is my personal take on the Hydro One situation in Ontario today and does not reflect the opinion of any other member, nor is it a policy position of the LWRA. As long as I am not asked to publish anything that is slanderous or libelous the door is open to all to express their views.
As I responded to the expected charge of playing partisan politics: “There are no partisan politics at play here as I pretty much take blind adherence to any political party the same way as I take blind adherence to any religion.” I take as many facts as I can find into consideration and then make up my own mind on what the best course of action is.
We are all in this together.
Late last Fall when the Thanksgiving turkey was but a memory I was walking through the Limerick Lodge boathouse when I spotted this fine garter snake sunning herself under the windshield of an enclosed boat. With Winter coming soon I wondered just how she got in there, and more to the point, how was she going to get out. So, she was gently removed and set free to find a winter home in the woods. Owners of the boat told me they had seen her in their boat several times but she had always managed to elude capture amongst their life preservers and many other hiding places. They wondered how she had been captured and I assured them she was soundly sleeping in that warm sunny spot when approached so it was pretty easy. She should be coming out of hibernation very soon but hopefully she will not head back to their boat for the 2018 season.
Update on the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association (FOCA) AGM 2018
– Attended by George Offshack in Toronto on behalf of our Limerick Waterways Ratepayers’ Association (LWRA)
– Article submitted by Kimberly Carson, LWRA President
George attended the breakout session on responsible cottage renting. It is an issue everywhere. Complaints heard are the same as Limerick Council hears, but sometimes many times over. Stories of multi-million dollar cottages being rented to huge parties week after week all season long are common. No one has any magic solutions yet. Eagle Lake is making their “Guide to Cottage Etiquette” available to FOCA who will edit out the specifics for Eagle Lake and make it available to other associations to be adapted for their use. There was anecdotal evidence provided that neither rental by-laws nor permit processes were having any effect on the problem.
FOCA will deficit spend by roughly $30,000 in 2018. $15,000 of that will be spent on getting out the vote in cottage country (officially called Vote for Your Future) and $15,000 is being used to help fund a PhD student from Guelph, Katherine Howes, who is doing research on the “Economic Potential of Cottagers.” She is also receiving funds from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). This is something that I think we should discuss at our LWRA Board of Directors meeting in May!
The septic presentation had a lot of statistics, but the two of interest were that 74% of septic tanks inspected did not need to be pumped, but that 41% had major failures. The presenter, who runs a septic system inspection service, mostly for real estate transactions, recommended that cottage associations concentrate on inspection programs, not pump out programs. He said that pumping cottage septic tanks that don’t need pumping can lead to multiple years of them not function properly until they get back into biological balance.
Invasive species presentations highlighted the following:
Starry Stonewort – is probably not of concern to our LWRA as it concentrates in lakes that are alkaline, and Limerick and its connecting lakes are acidic.
Phragmites is definitely something we need to learn about and watch for. It is mechanically removable during July without a permit.
As a member of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association (FOCA) our Limerick Waterways Ratepayers’ Association (LWRA) might want to make a suggestion regarding FOCA’s lobbying efforts as we head into the June 7, 2018 Ontario Provincial election.
What triggers this thought is my reading of the latest Hydro One bill for my cottage which has sat dark and quiet in the woods since Old Man Winter locked up the place. Over the years Hydro has changed the rules of the game as any good government-run monopoly takes as its lawful right. However, the absurdity of the latest invoice through the lens of an upcoming Ontario election is a bit too much to bear quietly.
Exactly when my Hydro bill became a propaganda tool for the government eludes me but I do still have a copy of the old Hydro bills I used to get. They tell me … You used this many kilowatt/hours (kWh) of electricity, we charge this per kWh used and you owe us this amount. Simple. I used it so I should pay for it.
My March 1, 2018 bill tells me: You used 0 kWh, our On-Peak, Mid-Peak and Off-Peak rates of 13.2¢, 9.5¢ and 6.5¢ respectively, times 0 kWh used = $118.68 which will be automatically withdrawn from your bank account on March 20, 2018. And here I thought, since about Grade 2, that zero times anything equals zero.
But wait! There is good news on my bill under the heading of “What do I need to know?” I need to know that the Wynne Liberals have cajoled the Hydro One guys into telling me on my bill that “Ontario’s Fair Hydro Plan saved you $9.04 on your bill. That amount includes the 8% provincial rebate.” How generous and thoughtful of the Liberals! I think I should vote for them.
On the other hand … we all know that Wynne’s generosity with our money will cost us all in the long run because she has mortgaged our future by simply pushing Hydro’s debt further out into that future and by selling off portions of the company on the Toronto Stock Exchange. These politically expedient decisions are a continuation of the bad policy decisions which have destroyed what was once the premier electrical system in North America.
Ontario has the ability to create far more electricity than Ontarians consume. Hydro One sells excess generation to Michigan and New York State at 1.2¢ per kWh. Nuclear and water power alone could create enough electricity to supply demand but both of these sources are curtailed because the Liberals “Green Energy Plan” gives “first right to the grid” to foreign windmill operators if the wind is blowing and to solar cell owners if the Sun is shining.
Back when Ontario Liberals wanted to look like they were environmentally conscious they introduced the Feed In Tariff (FIT) program for anyone who wanted to drop solar cells into their front yards. My experience-based reluctance to get into any business agreement with any government was cemented when they told me they would pay me 81.4¢/kWh for any electricity a bank of solar cells in my garden might produce. A business plan that will pay me 81.4¢ and sell it for Off-Peak at 6.5¢ per kWh, or 1.2¢ per kWh to the Americans, seems like a really stupid business plan doomed to failure. It was and continues to be one of the biggest boondoggles of our time.
So, to overcome this colossal stupidity Hydro One decided they need money from everyone every month, whether they consume any electricity or not, and came up with the idea of Delivery Charges. This is a huge negative if the Liberal’s true goal was to look like they were dealing with the perceived problems of Climate Change. Getting billed for costs unrelated to personal consumption is no incentive to conserve.
Hydro One needs to be overhauled from the top down. When you consider the fact that we paid Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt an annual salary of $4.4 million in 2016 to oversee the insanity of the programs his political masters developed in the hopes of winning votes in the next election it seems like the logical place to start. Cottagers can start at the ballot box on June 7, 2018.
With the preservation of a high quality lake environment as one of the primary goals of your Limerick Waterways Ratepayers Association (LWRA) Jan Mackillican is organizing a septic tank pump-out for the summer of 2018. The more cottagers who have their septic tanks pumped at the same time the cheaper it is per cottage. A barge has to be brought to the lake to motor up to each cottage, pump out their tanks and then transfer the waste to a tanker truck for proper disposal. This process can go a long way to maintaining the health of your septic system and the lake water we all love to swim in.
If you would like to participate in this program this summer please contact Jan at email@example.com or by cell at: 613-922-4940
Here are some tips on the care and feeding of your SEPTIC SYSTEM
Through the Docktalk program, the Federation of Ontario Cottagers Association (FOCA) encourages landowners to look after their septic systems.
WHY? Problems can arise with septic systems that have serious impacts, including:
Overload/leaking of sewage
A septic system is designed to treat a set volume of waste water. Every time water goes down the drain into your septic tank, the same amount of liquid leaves the tank and enters the leaching bed. If too much waste water enters the tank, from extra guests, heavy water use – too much waste is forced out, too soon. Untreated waste water escapes, including solids that can clog up pipes and/or enter the leaching bed as well.
Wiped out waste digesters
Sewage is broken down by millions of bacteria and enzymes in your septic tank and soil within the leaching bed. That bacteria is harmed or killed by (1) cleaning products that are antibacterial, non-biodegradable, chlorine-based and/or full of toxic materials; and (2) hazardous products like varnish, paint, pesticides and gasoline.
Water quality affected, algal blooms erupt, and nuisance plants choke the lake
Septic systems were designed with public health in mind. They are designed to remove contaminants such as organic solids, bacteria, and viruses, but not to prevent the release of nutrients. Nitrogen and phosphorus released from septic systems can negatively impact water quality and cause algal blooms and increased growth of aquatic plants. Excess nitrogen can also pollute drinking water, endangering people.
Build up of solids
There’s a lot that can’t be digested by your septic system. Fats, grease, and oils don’t break down, and can form a scum layer at the top of your septic tank. Paper products, coffee grounds, hair, tampons, and other common sewage items inhibit the work of bacteria and quickly fill tanks. Combined, they can clog the system significantly hampering your septic’s effectiveness.
Hazardous products (paint, varnish, pesticides, gasoline, antifreeze) dumped down your drain, come out of the septic system just like they went in, but now they’re in the ground and water with the potential to poison wells and lakes.
Contaminated drinking water and swimming areas
If your sewage is leaking, not getting cleaned, or building up, the end result could be contaminated water entering wells, ground water, lakes, streams, etc. Your health and the environment’s health are at risk.
A septic system treats your waste water and sewage. Your household drains connect to a septic tank and a leaching bed. Both are buried beside your cottage. The leaching bed is made up of pipes (with holes) buried in gravel, surrounded by natural or imported soil.
Find out what you can do to keep your septic safe…
Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations 201-159 King Street Peterborough, ON K9J 2R8 Phone: (705) 749-3622 Fax: (705) 749-6522 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
SEPTIC SYSTEMS HOW?
FOCA encourages landowners to learn the following septic slogans that will keep you on the right track to a healthy lake:
What goes in must come out
To allow waste water the time it needs to be treated in the tank, conserve water. Ensure the size of your system can handle the quantity of waste water you create. Many older septic systems may be grossly undersized.
Don’t poison your poop processor
The importance of using biodegradable, non-toxic shampoos, detergents, soaps, and cleaners can’t be stressed enough. Many products in your cottage are loaded weapons. Make septic-friendly products the popular choice!
Nutrients not needed
Keep the input of phosphorus to a minimum. Use low-phosphate or phosphate-free cleaners.
Have an inspector visit every 3 to 5 years
Regular maintenance is one of the most important steps. Get an inspection and your tank pumped every three to five years. Replacing or repairing a septic system (and its impacts) is expensive; maintenance keeps thousands of dollars in your pocket and emergencies at bay.
It’s not a garbage can
Don’t put garbage (i.e. non-biodegradable items) down your drain. That includes grease, fats, oil, and paper products.
Location, location, location
Soils play a big role in how water travels from the leaching bed, what contaminants get absorbed/broken down, and how far they travel. Your septic system must be designed for the type of soil around your cottage. Make sure your system meets the rules (Ontario Building Code) that control how far a septic tank and leaching bed can be built away from buildings, wells, and waterbodies.
Plants not trees
Plant with caution in the nutrient-rich area above the leaching bed. Do not plant trees or shrubs within three metres of the tank or bed. Roots will seek out and crack your pipes. Shallow-rooted ground covers are ideal.
If you are lucky enough to be at the lake this Saturday night you can catch the first ”Live Music Night” down at Limerick Lodge on Saturday, August 19 starting at 7 p.m. This is a collaboration between George Offshack, genial lodge owner, and your Cottagers’ Association. This is the last formal event presented by your Limerick Waterways Ratepayers’ Association (LWRA) for 2017.
If the weather co-operates music will be presented on the front lawn overlooking the lake. If the heavens open up yet again everyone will retreat into the lodge. Either way you are invited to bring something to quench your thirst and a seat to relax in.
Kim Carson moves so fast that details of exactly who she has corralled for the evening are sketchy at best but anyone who plays music is invited to step up to the stage after the “local band” Kim has lined up finishes their first set. Rumors are that “Just Lucky” might also sit in for an acoustic set. So, if you have a trombone, flute, clarinet or even an banjo, please bring it along and join in the fun. No accordions please.
Kim also has mentioned there will be some treats provided to snack on and a stand-up comic may even run a new routine by the crowd to see how it flies. The new Limerick Waterways maps will also be there for sale. And if you are lucky you might win the raffle and have a new treasure to take back to your cottage under the cover of darkness.