Helpers: Catching up with lake defender Richard Witham

Helpers: Catching up with lake defender Richard Witham

Retired science trainer spends a lot of his free time on a mission to guard town’s city lakes from the influence of urbanization

A battalion of volunteers keep watch over the well being of Sudbury’s troubled waters.

Richard Witham, who has lived on Lengthy Lake for 33 years along with his spouse, Audrey, is without doubt one of the residents who dedicates a great deal of his free time on a mission to guard metropolis lakes from the consequences of urbanization.

He’s a member of the Lengthy Lake Stewardship Committee and is the instant past-president of the Better Sudbury Watershed Alliance (GSWA).

Like different residents who reside alongside Lengthy Lake, the Withams get their consuming water, which requires filtering and purification by intense ultraviolet gentle or different strategies, from the lake. It is very important them to maintain the lake wholesome.

Stewardship members’ issues additionally prolong to wider environmental points that adversely have an effect on wildlife and may prohibit leisure use.

“While you reside on the lake, and you’re within the water, that raises your understanding (of the problems) and also you get entangled,” Witham mentioned.

Most of the metropolis’s city lakes have excessive sodium ranges prompted by way of highway salt in winter. They’re additionally delicate to residential pollution reminiscent of septic system runoff, family merchandise and garden fertilizers that trigger algae blooms. As well as, invasive lake plant species reminiscent of Eurasian Milfoil have an effect on oxygen ranges.

John Lindsay, one other native water watchdog, appreciates Witham’s dedication and management.

“Because the starting, in my view, nobody has been extra concerned within the GSWA than Richard Witham as a member of the chief committee.”

Witham, a retired science trainer and midwifery professor, “is lively in analysis regarding water high quality points which might be related to our native state of affairs, significantly rising salt ranges in our city lakes, invasive species in addition to septic system contamination,” provides Lindsay, the president of the Minnow Lake Restoration Group.

“Richard is the assistant to the present GSWA chair, in addition to serving on a number of committees requiring a substantial amount of time, particularly the communication committee overseeing correspondence involving advocacy with varied authorities our bodies and the media.”

Creating consciousness surrounding lake water high quality is without doubt one of the GSWA’s prime goals. Witham was concerned in organizing the Troubled Waters convention in 2021. 

5 main water high quality consultants, reminiscent of Dwelling with Lakes Centre director John Gunn, had been scheduled to current at a reside occasion that needed to be reconfigured as a digital convention.

“If they’d been talking for the one evening, the displays would have been crammed in. (As a substitute) every (on-line) presenter had a two-hour slot,” mentioned Witham. 

And because it turned out, the Zoom classes, which had been unfold out over 5 weeks, attracted a bigger viewers than a reside occasion might have. The displays had been additionally recorded and launched on YouTube.

A great deal of GSWA’s work as of late is corresponding with the Ministry of Atmosphere, Conservation and Parks (MECP) questioning adjustments to laws that favour property builders over environmental issues.

Alex Cieslewicz is the present chair of GSWA and administrators are Nicolas Smit (vice -chair), Susan Darling (secretary), David Younger (treasurer), Elaine Porter, Margaret McLaughlin,  John Lindsay, Norm Eady, Lin Gibson, Craig Hamilton, Mandy Hey, Miranda Virtanen and Witham.

Two representatives from every of the 22 lake stewardship committees sit on the alliance.

“We meet from September to Might, typically there’s a assembly in June,” mentioned Witham.

The conferences had been held on the Dwelling with Lakes Centre and had been open to the general public earlier than COVID-19. For now, on this “restoration interval,” GWSA continues to be assembly through nearly however their efforts of their good work move throughout us.

Vicki Gilhula is a contract author. Helpers is made doable by our Neighborhood Leaders Program.

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