It seemed to be tradition, that bar of soap at the end of the dock used for a quick bath in the lake. We thought nothing of it, after all it’s a vast lake and the amount of soap used is very minimal. But is this “harmless activity” actually harmless? What if we use biodegradable soap? Green soap?
In short, the answer is no, bathing in the lake regardless of type of soap is not a harmless activity. Soap whether it’s green, biodegradable or regular pollutes our lakes and disrupts the natural organisms and lake life in our Muskoka lakes. Soap is by nature a product we use to cut grease and oil, it achieves this through the use of surfactants which are often toxic to lake life. These soaps break the tension of the surface water impacting organisms and lake critters which scurry along the surface. Further, often soaps which claim to be phosphorus free or low in phosphorus still contain some phosphorus. Phosphorus contributes to algae blooms.
BUT my soap is biodegradable!
Perhaps, but that doesn’t render your product harmless to our lakes, and the water quality. Simply put, while biodegradable soap does breakdown, and often faster than a regular soap, what is left at the end of the process is often materials which are not naturally occurring in our lakes. This impacts the purity of the lake water and harms our aquatic life.
People drink that water!
It’s common for cottagers and homeowners in Muskoka to draw the water that supplies their homes from our lakes. This means that when you use soap in our lakes, you’re polluting someone’s drinking water.
What to do?
Jump in the lake and use your scrubbie to scrub away the dirt, often that’s all that’s required! Educate those around you, get involved in your lake association, contact a local group which is working to preserve the purity and beauty of our Muskoka lakes.
Above all, have fun!
And continue to enjoy the precious resource of the Muskoka Lakes at our fingertips! The better care we take and the better example we set, the better the quality of the lakes we leave as our legacy.