A recent article on BetterFarming.com (Agriculture fingered as E. coli source in Lake Huron study) gave an excellent report on a study that was done on the Eighteen Mile River showing the potential sources of E. coli within the watershed.
A Sept. 9 letter to the editor in the Goderich Signal Star, referring to a previous article in that publication about the "Blue Flag in Goderich," incorrectly stated "it has been shown that most of the e-coli contamination in the lake is due to farm animal waste" and the author referred to the BetterFarming.com article. The author also suggested "we farmers would have appreciated advice for methods to improve manure management and reduce the detrimental effects of some common farming practices on the health of our beautiful lake."
First off, the BetterFarming.com article was accurate and never once stated that agriculture is the source of "most of the E. coli in Lake Huron." Within the watershed of the Eighteen Mile River agriculture is the main source since there is no urban development and 99 per cent of the feces produced in the watershed is from agriculture (according to the researchers and Statistics Canada). So of course agriculture will be a main source of E. coli.
Second, the author suggested that farmers need advice on improving our impact on the environment.
Each month the Huron County Federation of Agriculture lists the dates for the local Environmental Farm Plan sessions. Most annual agriculture meetings in Huron County features someone talking about local initiatives and funding that is available for environmental stewardship programming. Each of the two local conservation authorities has staff that can assist farmers with projects that will be effective in reducing erosion and improving the environmental "footprint" of the property (and quite possibly improve productivity). The local OMAFRA office in Clinton also has staff to direct farmers on where to go or who to speak with if they want to do a project. Funding can be up to 100 per cent of the cost of the project depending on where the farmer is located in Huron County. For a few years now Huron County has a Huron Clean Water Project that provides project funding.
I think the author of the letter to the editor in the Goderich Signal Star should be more specific in stating he or she personally needs advice since there have been hundreds of projects completed in Huron County each year under a funding program or by individual farmers with their own initiative.