Sudbury city council is looking at spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to take a closer look at just what is polluting Ramsey Lake.

It's considering a study that would determine what pollutants are getting into the lake and how to keep them out.

Some preliminary research shows that Frobisher Creek, which winds through industrial lands and new subdivisions before emptying into Ramsey, is one of the major sources of phosphorous and the blue-green algae that feed on it.

Algae blooms and increased development in the area have environmental groups calling for the city to protect its main drinking water source.

Laurentian University biologist Charles Ramcharan said this type of study can be very political, but he hopes scientists can douse the debate rather than inflame it.

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Biologist Charles Ramcharan said he hopes the study will cool debate on the issue rather than inflame it. (Erik White/CBC)

"If we knew more about the system, then we take out some of the guesswork, and that might tap down some of the intensity of the debate a little bit," He said.

John Kenny, who bought a new house so he could be close to Ramsey Lake, worries that he might be part of the problem.

"I have a sense that it's more possibly upstream. I can only see a few lawns along here. Could they contribute that much? Maybe they can, I don't know," Kenney said.

Those pushing for a watershed study say, once it's done, Sudbury will know exactly what is polluting Ramsey, where it's coming from and how to stop it.

City Coun. Terry Kett has heard these questions come up repeatedly, especially when council is debating new development.

"I think it's come up too many times. Will it hurt my lake? Will it hurt my river, my stream? And those are answers we should be able to readily give to people," he said.

Kett puts the cost of the Ramsey watershed study between $100,000 and $200,000. But a city report from a few years ago put the cost at as much as $1 million.