September 8, 2005
Why do we not protect our investments: Lack of wisdom or lack of leadership?
Commentary by Gray Merriam
If you live or own a cottage on a lakeshore in Central Frontenac, you have a lot invested in that property and its value is growing – rapidly. Just look at the increase in building permits. Waterfront property in Central Frontenac will earn a better return than you can find in any bank or be certain of in most stocks or bonds.
The combination of our rocks, our forests, our rivers and our lakes together form the most fundamental infrastructure of our region – equivalent to the machinery of a productive factory.
Wise businessmen would not risk damage to the production machinery that their factory depends on for its future. Yet we allow the unknowns of the septic systems around our lakes to continue to threaten the water quality of those lakes, in effect allowing the “machinery of our factory” – the basic infrastructure supporting the economic future of our region, to deteriorate.
If our lakes are degraded, the most likely cause will be badly functioning septic systems - the old metal tanks (or 45 gallon drums) that preceded our current knowledge of how septic systems work and how they can ruin a lake. And how that can drive down the values of lakefront properties.
Why is it that all our neighbouring townships either have a septic reinspection system underway or have approved a reinspection program, yet Central Frontenac has nothing?
Tay Valley Township has activated a septic reinspection program for waterfront properties. Their pilot program began in 2000 on Christie Lake. In 2004, they upgraded the program and began actually looking into septic tanks. In 2004, 110 systems were inspected. No problems were found in 74% of the 110 systems examined. Notices advising owners of necessary maintenance, such as tree roots in the tile beds, were issued to 20%. Only 6% absolutely required action. The risk that your system needs more than maintenance is not high, based on these results.
Our lakes are as important as any other part of our township infrastructure. Waterfront properties are assessed high and pay premium amounts of taxes. If some of that tax money is not used to safeguard our lakes by activating a septic reinspection program immediately, the values of those waterfront properties easily could decay along with the water quality.
What are we lacking? Commitment by waterfront taxpayers? That would be short-sighted in the extreme. Do we lack the leadership necessary to move forward along with all our neighbouring townships? If so, here is a call for a change.