Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Summary of the 'Blue algae' file

Our recent ‘Blue Algae’ incident began in late January 2012 when we learned "by chance" that there had been a report of algae on the lake in November 2011, without the Association being informed of the matter. The President of the Association (Robert LeSage) then sent an email to the inspector of Bouchette for details. A week later, having had no response, Mr. LeSage sent an email to the Mayor Réjean Major, still without a response. He sent another email to the mayor in early March, but received no response again.

On March 13, the President received an email copy of a statement issued by the municipality stating that a substance appearing to be cyanobacteria had been found and it was confirmed that the substance could have the potential of being toxic, but the municipality was still awaiting the official outcome from the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks (MDDEP). This press release was distributed to the doors of residents in the municipality of Bouchette. Mr. LeSage then sent an email to the municipality again requesting a case summary and all relevant details, as owners around the lake were in panic. Ms. Lacroix (the Municipal Director General) replied by email on March 16, but did not provide all the information requested. The same day, the President sent a letter to members of the Bouchette Municipal Council, by email and by mail, expressing his dissatisfaction with the processing of this case, asking for clear and accurate answers to his questions, and asking for a meeting between members of the Executive Committee of the Association and members of the Municipal Council. A meeting was set for April 25 to discuss this issue as well as many other topics.

Finally, the MDDEP report was published on the website of the Municipality of Bouchette, and it stated that the analytical results revealed the presence of a bloom of cyanobacteria which was not toxic. During the meeting with the Council on April 25, members of the Executive Committee asked the municipality to distribute another press release to residents' doors updating the situation, because cottagers were beginning to arrive at the lake. The municipality did not see the necessity of responding to this request, but later decided to discuss it internally. We are still awaiting their decision.

The municipality did take the initiative to organize a meeting involving representatives from two municipalities, the ABV of 7, Seauvegarde Gatineau Valley, RCN Gatineau Valley, and the Association, which met on April 27, 2012. The two representatives for the Association were Robert LeSage, President, and Jacques Lepine, Treasurer. It was decided to hire biologists to conduct a study to characterize the lake, at a cost of $3,600. It was agreed that the two municipalities will pay $1,200 each, and the Association will do the same.

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