Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Preaching against 'green guck'

Filmmaker warns about lake algae

  • Print

He's spent decades around Lake Winnipeg, but filming a recent documentary sent Paul Kemp into green sludge to investigate.

Kemp, president of Stornoway Productions and producer of the 44-minute film Save My Lake, was at a public forum Tuesday about the scourge of blue-green algae.

Kemp shot the film from March to December 2010, and it aired in 2011 on CBC's The Nature of Things.

"I've been going there since I was a little kid, so over 40 years now, I've been a cottager, and I gradually recognized that there was things going wrong, there were more algae blooms coming, the erosion on the beaches was occurring, the marshes seemed to be becoming a monoculture," said Kemp, who grew up in Winnipeg and is now based in Toronto, but returns to his cottage in Manitoba.

Kemp, and Allan Casey, author of Lakeland: Ballad of a Freshwater Country, spoke to about 90 people at the forum.

"Canada's a lake country that doesn't know it's a lake country," said Casey. "We're all working toward building that awareness here."

His book won the Governor General's Literary Award for Nonfiction in 2010.

The event was organized by Living Lakes Canada and the Lake Winnipeg Foundation.

"What we've found is that Lake Winnipeg is the most highly chlorophyll-laden lake of its size in the world," said Kemp, adding that finding comes from the Lake Winnipeg Foundation and Ducks Unlimited.

Kemp said 544,000 bags of lawn fertilizer -- or the equivalent -- end up in the lake every year.

"When fertilizer goes in, phosphorus goes in," he said.

"Phosphorus is what's called an accelerant... if you put phosphorus on your plants in your front yard, your plants will grow, if you pour it in the lake, algae uses it and it starts to explode."

He referred to "green guck" swamping beaches and the danger of algae blooms.

"The algae gets so thick that it actually can go toxic... it can create toxins that can be quite harmful to dogs if they drink it," said Kemp.

He also said decomposing algae blooms can start "gobbling up the oxygen in the lake."

"The fear is that you have enough algae blooms that die and start to decompose, the oxygen in the lake gets swallowed up and then you can have massive fish kills," he said.

"Lake Winnipeg is probably one of the highest-risk lakes for becoming a dead zone," he added.

It has a 1,000,000-square-kilometre drainage zone, he said, so "if you flush your toilet in Banff, it eventually gets to Lake Winnipeg."

"What I hope people recognize is that we have to stop adding to the problem of phosphorus and excess nitrogen... getting into the rivers, creeks and water systems, at source, so we can stop it before it even gets to the lake," Kemp said.

gabrielle.giroday@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 23, 2012 B3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Vendors say ugly Christmas sweaters create brisk business

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A female Mallard duck leads a group of duckings on a morning swim through the reflections in the Assiniboine River at The Forks Monday.     (WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Winnipeg Free Press  June 18 2012
  • Someone or thing is taking advantage of the inactivity at Kapyong Barracks,hundreds of Canada Geese-See Joe Bryksa’s goose a day for 30 days challenge- Day 15- May 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think it's a good idea for Theresa Oswald to enter NDP leadership race?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google