By Chad Ingram
Published Sept. 28 2017
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has not only denied an application for an expansion of a sewage-spreading field near Maple Lake it has also denied approval for the continued operation of the site.
A Sept. 21 correspondence from David Bradley with the Peterborough district MOECC office to Haliburton Septic Pumping which has been operating at the site since 2015 outlines the reasons for the denial.
Water quality seems to be central to the decision including “consideration and review of ministry technical support memoranda prepared in review of the application and supporting documents including a memorandum dated Aug. 16 2017 prepared by the ministry’s surface water scientist Mark Phillips” the correspondence reads. “Mr. Phillips’ memorandum indicated that he could not recommend approval of the application. Included in his reasons which I have reviewed and accept are the following: Maple Lake is located approximately one kilometre north of the disposal area. A wetland area and tributary creek are located on the site and the creek flows northward into Maple Lake. The site is not suitable for the proposed expansion and long-term use due to anticipated additional loading of phosphorus into Maple Lake which is considered to be a Policy 2 receiver for total phosphorus. A Policy 2 receiver is one which has water quality worse than the Provincial Water Quality Object and one where the water quality shall not be degraded further.”
The correspondence also mentions that Maple Lake is home to lake trout and is “at capacity” according to the official plan of Algonquin Highlands township.
“This designation is based on MOECC’s Lakeshore Capacity Assessment Handbook with the goal of preventing excessive phosphorus levels in sensitive lakes in order to protect the lake ecosystem health and lake trout habitat . . . “ the correspondence reads. “The proposed expansion and long-term operation of the hauled sewage disposal site would represent a concentrated ongoing source of phosphorus loading into Maple Lake.”
The current approval to operate will expire Nov. 30.
Consideration of the ministry’s statement of environment values and consideration of comments received during a public feedback period earlier this year was also part of the decisions.
The Maple Beech and Cameron Lakes’ Area Property Owners Association along with a citizen group calling itself Our Grandchildren Matter Too: Save Maple Lake protested the initial application for the operation of the site and have continued to submit comments to the ministry.
The Township of Algonquin Highlands also provided feedback during the public comment period.
“Certainly the township did make a submission in that regard” Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt told the paper. “Our position has always been around land use and existing policy.”
While the use of the property for the purpose of spreading is not permitted under the township’s zoning bylaw the municipality’s bylaw was trumped by the provincial approval for the operation of the site.
“Our comments were policy-related and legislative in nature” Moffatt said.
Moffatt who sits on a provincial committee conducting a hauled sewage review said she believes there is a bigger picture changing of attitudes toward sewage spreading fields as an acceptable way to dispose of waste.
She stressed there is an inextricable link between sewage disposal phosphorous loading and lake health.
“Municipalities and people have the power to pay attention and make good decisions so we can all keep living here” she said.
Algonquin Highlands is in the process of an expansion of its sewage treatment lagoon.
The ministry told Haliburton Septic Pumping it would prioritize the processing of any application for operation at a new site as the ministry is cognizant the decision will impact the business.
The business owner may also within 15 days from the service of the notice request a hearing by tribunal.