Lake Memphremagog, QC - Matthew Baird

My Watermark is Lake Memphremagog, QC

Lake Memphremagog is a freshwater lake located between Newport, Vermont, the United States and Magog, Quebec, Canada. The lake spans both Quebec and Vermont, but is mostly in Quebec. Most of the watershed that feeds the lake is located in Vermont, and is a source of accumulated phosphorus, sediments and other pollutants. Recent cleanup efforts have started to improve the water quality. The lake furnishes potable (drinking) water for 200,000 people whose residences are located around the lake in Magog, Quebec. There are twenty-one islands on Lake Memphremagog. Of these, five are in the United States, one is international, and fifteen are in Canada.

Like many other lakes, Memphremagog is accumulating phosphorus, sediments, and other pollutants, primary runoff from farms which are in abundance in Magog, but from other sources as well. Exotic species infestations are a concern, with an existing Eurasian water milfoil population and the potential for a zebra mussel infestation. Since the 1970s, significant efforts have been made to reduce the polluting effects of direct discharges into the lake and its tributaries, and lake quality has improved. In 1994, the Lake Memphremagog Watershed Association was formed to focus on solving lake and river issues. Testing done in 2008 was unable to determine the cause of excessive nitrogen and phosphorus. In 2010, a study revealed that farms contribute disproportionately to nutrient loads. Although farms have 16% of total land use in the drainage area, they produce 44% of the runoff. Baseline nutrients for a lake are 14 micrograms of phosphorus per liter of water. The lake was measured at 17 micrograms, 18% above the standard. Although the acreage devoted to farming has decreased, the retired land has most often been developed, itself a source of runoff. All of these pollutants has vastly increased the proportion of invasive plant and animal species that are negatively affecting the lakes natural environment.

Lake Memphremagog is an environment that has held a place in my heart for years. My girlfriend’s cottage is right on the lake on the east side of Ste-Catherine de Hatley near Magog and I have spent countless summer days boating, swimming and taking the environment in. However, the past few years I have noticed that there has been a large increase in invasive algae. This phenomenon has put a damper on many of the activities that myself and her family normally partake in. Throughout the past few summers, there was a larger amount of boats on the lake, more developments of houses, more roads built around the area of the lake, which all increase pollution. Based on all these factors, it is logical that invasive algae as a result of the pollution which increase more and more throughout the summers. As someone who spends well over half his summer at the cottage and the lake, it would be extremely disappointing if these issues are not resolved as soon enough boating and swimming will become impossible due to the plants sprouting in the water by the thousands. For that reason, I chose Lake Mempremagog as my watermark due to the importance it holds in my life and the amount of time that I spend there during the summers.

Matthew Chisholm
Matthew Baird

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