Are lakes nature’s bathtub?

There are so many things we can do at the lake, such as swimming, kayaking, birdwatching, and fishing. One of the things we shouldn’t do at the lake is use it as a bathtub.

Personal care products (including shampoo, shower gel, and bug repellant) and pharmaceuticals are collectively referred to as PPCPs—a recently identified class of environmental pollutants. It’s important to prevent these products from directly entering the lake when possible.

The best thing to do is simply let the water do the work of cleaning your skin and hair rather than adding soaps and shampoos. There are biodegradable shampoos that are marketed as safe for the environment. However, biodegradable simply means they can be broken down by natural processes, which could take weeks to years to work—leaving plenty of time for the product to do some damage.

The best practice is to never wash with soaps or shampoos directly in the lake. If you’re going to wash outside, please use biodegradable soaps, wash 30 m from the shoreline, and dispose of the soapy water in a six-inch-deep hole where the soil can filter the water, and the bacteria in the soil can properly break down the soap.

It may seem absurd that just one person washing in the lake can pose a risk. However, our lakes are already impacted by septic systems, runoff from lakefront properties, and pollution from boats—every little bit counts. Let’s work together to keep our lakes clean and safe for us, visitors, and the wildlife that depend on them for a good time.

Sources for this article include:


A movement that began in Britain has made its way across the Atlantic in the past few years. It’s called No Mow May, and if you haven’t heard of it yet (the CBC did a story about it in May 2020), the gist is this: bees, coming out of hibernation in the spring, are in need of food to get themselves revved up, and at that time of year the pickings are slim. UNLESS… the wildflowers of May (we won’t call them weeds) are allowed to flourish: dandelions, violets, and wild strawberries among others.

Homeowners with lawns are asked to refrain from mowing for the month of May, giving bees (and other critters) food to tide them over until the full bounties of spring blossoms arrive. To participate, all you have to do is … nothing. Just sit back and enjoy the bright yellows and purples, and give that mower an extra month’s sleep-in. (In fact, with no one mowing, we’ll all be able to sleep-in.)

And as a bonus for your laziness, you’ll have a lawn full of tasty nutrition: dandelions are edible from the bottom of the root to the tip of the flowers. (Just be sure they haven’t been sprayed with chemicals.) Here are 16 ways that you can enjoy them at the dinner table.

What is that slime?

Have you ever noticed orange slime or a rainbow sheen in puddles on the dirt roads and ditches? This may look like someone’s car has leaked fuel or someone’s dumped something they shouldn’t have. The good news is you’re likely seeing the result of a very natural process that is not harmful to people or the environment.

Some species of bacteria that live in water and soil eat dissolved iron. They cause a chemical reaction that turns the dissolved iron (ferrous iron) into an insoluble form of iron (ferric iron) that can appear as reddish/orange staining on the water and soil surface.

The bacteria form a “biofilm” that is just the bacteria floating together on the water’s surface. The biofilm appears as a rainbow sheen that can look very similar to an oil sheen.

How do you tell the difference between biofilm and an oil sheen? It’s easy—just poke the sheen with a stick. If it breaks apart, it’s likely bacteria; if it goes back together, it’s likely a petroleum product (see photo above).

Image of natural sheen created by bacteria – it breaks into tiny pieces and doesn’t reform after being disturbed (source: Michigan Government).

Information for this article was gathered from the following sources:

Michigan Government. Bacteria: A naturally-occurring phenomenon. Department of Environmental Quality. Available from:

Government of British Columbia. Other aquatic phenomena. Available from:

Redoubt Reporter. Science of the seasons: Yellow boy bacteria has people seeing red. Dr. David Wartinbee. Available from:

Is Your Boat Ready

Is Your Boat Ready?

The ice is still on our lakes but now is a good time to be sure your boat is properly outfitted to go  into the water. Following is a Transport Canada list of mandatory safety equipment. Be aware that the police will issue fines for failure to have this equipment, including stand up paddle boards.

Motorized Craft up to 6meters in length (19ft 8in):

  • An appropriately sized Canadian – approved personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket for each person on board
  • A buoyant heaving line (15meters in length)
  • Manual Propelling device (e.g.  Paddle) or an anchor with at least 15 meters of rope, cable or chain
  • Bailer or Hand Pump
  • Sound signaling device (e.g. air horn or whistle)
  • Class 5BC fire extinguisher
  • Navigation lights if used between sunset and sunrise or periods of reduced visibility (mist or rain)
  • A waterproof flashlight or 3 Canadian approved flares
  • A vessel license if a motor of 10hp or more

 Canoes and Kayaks:

  • An appropriately sized Canadian -approved personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket for each person on board
  • Sound signaling device (e.g. air horn or whistle)
  • Bailer or pump (Exception: pleasure or water craft that cannot hold enough water to make it capsize or watertight compartments that are sealed and not readily accessible. E.g. sit on kayak, inflatable kayak)
  • Navigation light if paddling at night
  • If craft is more than 6 meters long, watertight flashlight

 Stand Up Paddle Board:

  • An appropriately sized Canadian -approved personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket
  • Sound signaling device (e.g. air horn or whistle)
  • A buoyant heaving line (15meters in length) if not wearing a PFD
    (In simple terms wear a lifejacket with a whistle and you are fine)

RLCA will again be placing speed buoys in key areas of our lakes this year.  Please obey the suggested speeds and you will protect yourself, your neighbours and your boat.

Haliburton County: take daily for a better life

There’s no better prescription right now than a permanent dose of Haliburton County. A life in our rural Highlands is a healthy, fulfilling antidote to the frustrations and annoyances of life in the city.

Up here in cottage country we genuinely appreciate the role that Physicians play in the health and wellbeing of our communities. Not just as dedicated carers and healers, but as leaders when we need them most.

The good news is that our County currently has multiple full-time Physician, Nurse Practitioner and Nurse positions available…and we know these coveted roles will be in high demand from medical professionals looking for that perfect work/life balance.

For Physicians looking to choose how and when they want to work (and play), we also have flexible opportunities to work part-time as a summer locum or just a few shifts in our ER.

What’s more, our Physician Recruitment Program offers a Return of Service incentive of up to a maximum of $150,000 over 6 years for Physicians moving to our area to practice Family and/or Emergency Medicine.

And we have a truly wonderful team of allied professionals who are ready to welcome you.

Ready to move to cottage country? Then please email our Physician Recruitment Co-ordinator, Wendy Welch, at or call her on 705 935 0314 to start planning your new life in the Haliburton Highlands.

Haliburton County: side effects may include job satisfaction and a healthier lifestyle.

Get those *!@# geese off your lawn!

Let’s face it, they’re a nuisance. They deplete the grass, make a lot of noise, can be quite vicious – especially if there are goslings to protect – and leave behind toxic presents that you have to pick up quickly, before they end up in your toddler’s mouth, or the lake.

But how to discourage them from lunching on your lawn?

Here are 3 ideas:

Solution 1: Create a 3′ or wider strip of high grasses, plants and shrubs along your shoreline. From the water, the geese won’t be able to see that there’s a restaurant on the other side. And even if they find your lawn, they won’t like it as much: they prefer an environment where they can constantly scan for dangers to them or their vulnerable young ones. Your shoreline barrier potentially hosts stalkers who fancy fresh geese for their dinner.

This needn’t involve much work: just stop mowing, and let nature do its thing. Tall grasses, flowers and bushes will happily flourish, especially given the proximity to water. Or you can take matters into your own hands and select plants that you find in nurseries, on roadsides, or on your neighbour’s property. (No, strike that last suggestion.) Just make sure that what you’re planting has some height and heft to it and isn’t invasive. Phragmites, for example, are a no-go. And you’ll want to avoid blocking your own view of the lake.

As a bonus, the barrier will soak up extra nutrients from your septic and gardens, before they make it to the lake and promote algae growth.

Solution 2: Let most of your lawn grow. Keep some areas trimmed for lawn chairs, play sets, and paths, but allow it otherwise to develop some height. Geese won’t be interested.

Solution 3: Get a pet alligator.

In case you missed them

The CBC recently ran a couple of articles of interest to property owners, especially if that property is lakeside.

Dandelions! Bees (and other pollinators) depend on them in the early spring. You should probably be eating them too. And without mowing or herbicides (which we know you’re not using, for your lake’s health, right?) you really can’t beat them. So why not learn to love them?

Bad news for fishing. It seems that climate change, among its other devastations, is raising the temperature of our lakes, which lowers the oxygen content, which, among other things, makes them less fish-friendly. Whether you want to catch fish, or just join them for a companionable swim, we can all agree that more is better. The problem is made worse by run-off from faulty or failing septic systems, or fertilizers (but you really aren’t using those, are you?), or a denuded shoreline that doesn’t capture excess nutrients before they enter the water. So get your septic checked regularly and naturalize your shoreline: your finny neighbours will be grateful.

Watch your wake to protect our shorelines

Did you know that boat wakes can erode our shorelines? The wave action created by boats moving at high speeds can wash away shoreline soils. Shoreline erosion damages waterfront properties and adds sediment to our lake, which can harm fish and their habitat. Please remind your friends and family to reduce their boat speed within 30 m of any shoreline. Learn more here


FOCA is very proud to launch the new Be #WakeAware campaign, together with our partners at the Muskoka Lakes Association and Safe Quiet Lakes. Boaters need to be #WakeAware to ensure ALL lake or river users are able to enjoy the water safely and sustainably. Any wake near shore can cause issues for loons, docks, shorelines, swimmers, and other small craft users. Large wake users are encouraged to take their fun to the middle of large lakes. Avoid narrow, shallow, or near-shore areas, and watch behind you to understand your wake impact. All small powerboat users can help, too, by always reducing speed to 10 km/hr or less within 30m of shore, and by getting up to plane quickly when transitioning from slow to high speed. We all have a role to play in being #WakeAware.

Do your part: Please visit the campaign webpage, share the link and #WakeAware hashtag on your own social networks, websites, and community groups, and circulate this message to everyone you know who loves the waterfront in Ontario:

Learn more about boating safety

Download our informative (PDF) documents below. Your knowledge about boat safety makes our cottage community a better one.

Watching your Wake

Those of us with our pleasure craft licence studied specific rules of the water geared to safe & responsible boating; most of us are familiar with general boat safety & etiquette. We may not be as familiar with the impact of boat wake. Click here to download or view the PDF online.

Private Buoy – Signage Guide

Private Buoy – Signage Guide. Click here to download or view the PDF online.

RLCA Safe Boating Guide

RLCA Safe Boating Guide cira 2009 – Click here to download or view the PDF online.

An Owners Guide to Private Buoys

An Owners Guide to Private Buoys. Click here to download or view the PDF online.