Aquatic Environment

We are all downstream from one another!

Great Lakes Environment

January 2010: Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) Scientists have detected the viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS), while testing fish in Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes ( VHS has been identified in 28 freshwater fish species within the Great Lakes watershed since 2005, including sport and commercial varieties such as walleye, muskellunge and whitefish. It causes bleeding, bloated abdomens and bulging eyes in fish before killing them. The spread of VHS can be stopped if boaters and anglers take similar precautions they use for cleaning off zebra mussels.

July 2006: Viral hemorrhagic septicemia (VHS) is believed to have killed thousands of fish in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The virus was first detected in the northeastern U.S. in 2005 and has now mutated to a fresh-water version found in 12 fish species in the Great Lakes, including chinook, coho salmon, smallmouth bass, drum, yellow perch, pike, and walleye. The virus spreads through the water, not through direct contact. Trailer-boaters should be extra careful to drain their livewells and baitwells after fishing. There is no health risk to humans.

March 2001: Diporeia - Scientists who monitor Great Lakes fish are alarmed over the fast disappearance of this tiny shrimp-like crustacean eaten by small fish such as smelts, alewives and white fish. Diporeia feed on organic matter in sediment on lake bottoms. Only Lake Superior has shown no decline, possibly because it is colder. The cause is a mystery, but Diporeia started to disappear about the same time as zebra mussels first appeared in the Lakes.

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Air Conditioning from the Lake

Enwave Deep Lake Water Cooling system has used cold water (4° C) from Lake Ontario to air condition buildings in Toronto since 2004, such as the Toronto-Dominion Centre, Royal Bank Plaza, Metro Toronto Convention Cnetre, and the Air Canada Centre.

Enwave draws water from as far down as 83 metres to provide Toronto with clean, cold drinking water. In 2007, the city came 3rd in the Best Water Taste Test.

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Chemicals in Lake Ontario fish

This the title of the 1996-1997 health advisory from New York State Deparment of Health. It says that women of child-bearing age and children under the age of 15 should eat no figh species from the Niagara River or Lake Ontario. What is really scary is that mirex and other priority chemicals have been detected at Wilson, N.Y. on Lake Ontario about 15 miles north of Niagara Falls. No ones knows where it's coming from!

The notorious leaking toxic dumps of Niagara Falls, NY continue to teak toxic chemicals into ground-waters, the Naigara River and end up in Lake Ontario, source of drinking water for more than 4.5 million people! [All those chemicals flow east... My advice is to go fishing somewhere west of Lake Ontario. -Pat]

[Information from "Hazardous Materials Management" magazine, Canadian Publication of Pollution Prevention and Control Dec/Jan 1997.]

Environmental problems are affecting the Loon populations in lakes and rivers. (More about Loons)

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Holding Tanks, Black Water and Gray Water


Many Canadian provinces have laws about black water discharge (sewage from toilets and holding tanks), gray water (from sinks and showers), holding tanks and pumpout services. These laws are changing all the time.

Provincial governments have laws that prohibit discharge of black water in Ontario, Manitoba, and inland waters of British Columbia. In these regions, a pleasure craft fitted with a toilet must also have a holding tank which may only be discharged at shore pump-out facilities. If you have an overboard discharge pipe installed in your hull, you must have all interior plumbing disconnected from it when in these areas.

British Columbia also prohibits (Environmental Management Act) discharging gray water in inland waters, and enforcement is concentrated in the Thompson, Cariboo, Okanagan and Kootenay regions.

Use our Government Directory to locate provincial Environment departments for more information. Transport Canada is responsible for the "Canada Shipping Act", "Small Vessels Regulations", and other marine acts and regulations.

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Bilges and Odours

Bilge Odour can make life aboard unpleasant. If you drain an icebox into the bilge, bacteria will thrive there. You can clean the bilge with either borax (non-toxic) or chlorine bleach (toxic) to kill the bacteria. Another cause of bilge odour is a fresh-water algae, which can release the horrible rotten-egg smell of hydrogen sulfide. Get copper sulfate, also known as blue-stone, which may be found in hardware stores or garden centres as a root killer. For more information, look for "MARINE SANITATION : Fact vs. Folklore" by Peggie Hall, an expert in marine sanitation at: or

Ontario Clean Marine Partnership

Environment Canada and Parks Canada held a joint project on the Trent Canal in 1996 to reduce pollution in boating. They tested vegetable based hydraulic oil and grease purchased from Greenland Corporation (1-800-598-7636) as well as biodegradable cleaning products. Christine Gillette-Welling ( is Environment Canada's representative on the Ontario Clean Marine Partnership looking at various ways to eliminate or reduce pollution of waterways.

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Sewage into Snow

Westport, Ontario, at the head of the Rideau Waterway, was the first community in Canada to use a technology that turns the town's sewage into snow. "Freeze crystallization", developed by Delta Engineering, Ottawa, Ont., sprays the liquid sewage and sprays a fine mist from a tower in winter, making instant snow. Tests showed that the "snow" was actually better quality than the existing water! The solid residue can be used to fertilize reed canary grass and harvested as mulch. Now what do they do with it in summer?

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Ideas for replacing electricity

Mohammed Bah Abba created a refrigerator that requires no electricity, according to The Tech Museum Awards ( He used two clay pots with wet sand in between, and a moist jute bag on top. When kept in a dry, well-ventilated, shady location, the water evaporates, cooling the inner container. This "fridge" kept eggplant for 27 days instead of 3. It's just another form of cooling beer in a wet bag hung out the car window! You sailing engineers get working!

A B.C. group called FogQuest ( uses big meshes ($78 by air) that collect potable water from fog. A good fog collector requires large, vertical mesh panels -- to imitate tree branches and leaves -- through which the fog droplets can drift. As they drift through the mesh, some droplets strike the weave, trickle down the panel. The amount collected depends on surface area, its efficiency, and wind speed. Would this work on a boat?

Where are the articles on using biodiesel to power a diesel engine? Even the engine manufacturer I contacted didn't have any information.

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Green Products

Try my list of envinronmentally friendly cleaning products using things found around the average home.

If you are interested in environmentally friendly products for the marine sector, I recommend that you get in touch with the Jill Paterson of the "Environmental Choice Program" of Terra Choice Environmental Services Inc. This organization certifies products as "environmentally friendly" for the marine sector as well as many other sectors. Her number is 613-247-1900 ext. 227.

A little biodegradable dish soap, boat wash, and shampoo goes a small way to keeping the algae blooms away. If only all shore communities were like Westport, Ontario (Rideau waterway) and turn sewage into "snow" --they claim it's cleaner than the lake water!

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Britain gets Solar-Powered Ferry

A solar-powered ferry, called the Serpentine Solar Shuttle, started service in London's Hyde Park in 2006. The 14.5-metre stainless steel boat carries 42 passengers up to 132 kilometres (82 mi) at 8 kph (5 mph). It has 27 solar panels.

Designer Christoph Behling, also designed the world's largest solar ship, which carries 120 passengers across the harbour in Hamburg, Germany.

In the land of the absurd, here is the patented windmill boat. In theory, a boat with a windmill rotating a water propeller can sail directly upwind at about half the speed of the wind, according to a 2005 post at More: Whirlyboat

Huge kite will power freighters
An ocean freighter owned by the Beluga shipping company, hopes to see up to a 50% drop in fuel consumption and cuts to greenhouse gas emission by 10 to 20%. How? Flying a football field-sized 'SkySail' 300 metres above the ship. KiteShip is selling kites for private yachts called Very Large Free Flying Sails (VLFFS). More: | (photo)

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Sources of Oil in North American Waters

The Royal Society of Canada gathered statistics about the source of oil found in North American waters. They found that almost a third of the oil came from spills on land and in inland waters. Oil spills from oil extraction and shipping made up less than 5%. It seems obvious that frequent spills when people are handling and transferring oil in marinas will end up in the waterways, yet this is easy to prevent. Kits to recover spilled fuel and devices to soak up fuel and oil in boat bilges can prevent contamination of our waterways.

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Will our children inherit clean drinking water? Will we have rivers fit to swim in? Will lakes have fish safe to eat? Will governments allow its sale? Canada's fresh water resources cannot be replaced once lost.