Urban centres have sewers. At the lake, we have septic systems. Over the years, septic systems have improved, not only by their safer location in proximity to the lake, but by their ability able to handle waste. Even so, an overtaxed septic system can result in leeching, and put the health of our lakes in jeopardy. It’s as much the septic system as the sleeping arrangements that dictate an owner’s decision on cottage capacity. So given due consideration, rather than risk saturating the tile bed, stagger water use: Don’t shower one after another or while running the washing machine or dishwasher.
Septics are extremely sensitive to the introduction of any foreign materials — the rule of thumb being: If you didn’t eat it, don’t flush it. Nothing will ruin a holiday faster than a backed-up septic system. To cottage guests and renters, we cannot emphasize this enough. An oversight can be a costly mistake. Cottage owners make note in their information packages and generally post a sign in the loo as a reminder.
Use 1 ply toilet paper if possible, and eco-friendly soaps. And please don’t bathe in the lake. Many residents draw their drinking water straight from the lake, which is filtered against bacteria not soaps and chemicals. And for those of you introducing boats into our lakes from outside areas, be sure to wash the hulls thoroughly before launching. We do not have zebra mussels here in Haliburton County, an invading species that litter the lake floor making wading in a lot like walking on broken glass. With the seeming abundance of fresh water in Ontario, we often forget that what we have is a precious and finite resource. The health of our lakes and our own health are inextricably linked. We would like to maintain the clear, pristine waters of the Highlands for future generations to enjoy.