Protecting our Lakes & Streams

The closing of several beaches this summer due to high bacterial counts serves to remind us of the impact our settled environment has on the quality of our surface waters, as highlighted by Paul Mandell (see Chronicle Herald, July 25, 2013).
Because the municipality and province generally do a minimum of testing, the problem is one for the public to tackle, said Mandell. He said he'd like to work with anybody interested in dealing with lake pollution...It's very rare in this world to find an urban centre with such a beautiful suite of lakes, he said.People really have to take care of the lakes themselves.
water garden
Illustration of a rain garden in the HRM Stormwater Management Guidelines Appendix I
Hardly bedtime reading, but the Halifax Regional Municipality Stormwater Management Guidelines contain lots of practical advice on how homeowners and communities can manage their properties to reduce negative impacts on surface waters.
The Guidelines describe Best Management Practices (BMPs), techniques and methods of managing stormwater drainage for adequate control and pollutant reduction by using the most effective and practical means that are economically acceptable to the community. Generally, these are methods that attempt to replicate the natural runoff characteristics and infiltration components of an undeveloped system to the extent possible and reduce or prevent water quality degradation caused by urban development.
Unfortunately, very few of the guidelines are required under the Halifax Regional Water Commissions' Schedule of Rules and Regulations for Water, Wastewater and Stormwater services or under relevant HRM By-laws. The governance of this issue is confusing to most of us. As well, there is a disconnect between the regulations for Water, Wastewater and Stormwater services which are a municipal matter, and surface water quality monitoring which is a provincial responsibility.

HRM stopped its lake testing program in 2012, but has recently asked staff to to explore reinstating the Lakes Water Quality Sampling Program. See Chronicle Herald article.

Meanwhile, HRM is seeking input on the development of a single Stormwater Management and Lot Grading By-Law for the municipality, asking "What do you feel are the key objectives of a good Stormwater Management & Lot Grading ByLaw?" See HRM

Much of the documentation is highly technical, but I suggest even a brief comment is worthwhile, e.g., underlining citizens' desire that we keep our lakes and other surface waters in as near-pristine condition as possible.

- David Patriquin
  Aug. 23, 2013
  (for WRWEO)