A researcher with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine is working with an environmental consulting company to develop a faster way to screen water for blue-green algae.
Sudbury received its first look at a long-awaited report on the health of the city’s lakes at a meeting Thursday night — but it wasn't as specific as some were hoping.
“I was waiting for a lot more than we heard tonight,” said Lin Gibson, co-chair of the lake advisory panel, who was commenting on the Hutchinson Report.
The report was commissioned over two years ago, at a cost of $93,000, to determine phosphorous levels in Sudbury lakes — and predict how much more lakefront development they can stand.
The report didn’t get that specific, but Gibson said the message she gets is that many lakes are in danger.
"About 160 lakes overall … are sort of on the edge,” she said.
Report goes public next month
The report's author, Neil Hutchinson, said the science just isn't there to set development caps for each of the 300-some lakes in his study.
But he said that doesn't mean the report can't help Greater Sudbury plan for the future.
"You might want to have stricter development controls, even if you can't say 129 cottages is too much and 128 is OK."
Hutchinson's report will lay out the current phosphorous levels in Sudbury lakes, but he said won't show where unpredictable blue-green algae blooms will show up next.
"They're very clever little beasts,” he noted.
Some good news in the Hutchinson Report is that no Sudbury lakes are seeing an increase in phosphorous levels. And the amount of the algae-causing element has actually dropped in 12 area lakes, including Ramsey, MacFarlane and Vermillion.
The full report, including specific information on each lake, will be released to the public next month.
Greater Sudbury's Environmental Planning manager Stephen Monet said the report will help staff draft new policies.
He noted there are many steps that can be taken towards protecting water in the so-called city of lakes.
"What we would like to get to eventually — and that's eventually with a capital ‘E’ ... is lake-specific watershed plans. But you can imagine the time that will take,” he said.