Efforts to improve water quality at Lake of Nations seem to have paid off, based on the number of days water skiing is suspended in 2017. This is three times lower than the year former. The coast, however, remains important to go up for the Jean-Perrault Water Ski School, which lost the majority of its members last year.
In 2017, Contamination Rating D and heavy rains forced the interruption of water skiing for seven days, compared to 21 days in 2016. “In 2016, when there was talk of putting in place a preventative closure system, we were not necessarily happy, but as it was important to protect the health of our users, we agreed to participate. The season has been difficult. Often, we received the results of the water analysis at the last minute while our employees were already there. The majority of our members did not return in 2017, “says Antoine Larkin-Turgeon, President of the Jean-Perrault Water Ski School.
Mr. Larkin-Turgeon talks about 10% retention in 2017. From 150 members in 2015, the school has grown to about 80 members in 2016 and about fifty in 2017.
“In 2017, we had a coast to climb and we hope that the water quality will be even better to celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2018. We have not been aware of diseases or gastros in skiers since I work here, about 15 years old. ”
The occasional closures also prevent the holding of major competitions. “If it rains, we should cancel competitions while people come from far away to participate. We can not think of holding a Canadian championship for example. ”
The news is nevertheless encouraging because of the partnership between the water ski school, the City of Sherbrooke, the Department of Public Health of Estrie and the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against climatic changes. An elaborate monitoring of water quality was initiated in 2016 and several corrections were made to the sewer system in 2017 to prevent spills upstream of the lake.
“In this file, our job was to protect people’s health. It was necessary to establish the threshold from which activities should be suspended. We used the same level of contamination as for swimming, because we determined that 90% of skiers fall into the water at one time or another and that one-third swallows water. We did not have a skier sick enough to have a declaration of illness in Public Health. For us, in public health, it is exceptional the file we are talking about, because monitoring the quality of recreational water is not an obligation of Quebec, “says Isabelle Samson, specialist in public health and preventive medicine at the Department of Public Health of Estrie.
Samson admits that the next logical step might be to allow swimming in the Lake of Nations, but says she would wait a year or two to see the lake’s behavior.
“In 2018, the City is continuing its contaminant research efforts around and upstream of Lake of Nations. This success remains fragile and vigilance is required for future years, “says Karine Godbout, Chair of the Environment Committee at the Ville de Sherbrooke.
Mrs. Godbout does not close the door to discussions that could allow swimming in the lake in a few years.
Ditto for Mayor Steve Lussier, who confirms that this is not yet a project on the drawing board for the moment.