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Residents of the watershed

Lake Memphremagog is a drinking water reservoir for more than 160,000 people, and a natural gem to be preserved. However, urban, agricultural, industrial and resort activities which take place in the watershed can all modify the water cycle or introduce pollutants into the environment and degrade the water quality. That is to say that residents, farmers, workers, elected officials and tourists in the nine municipalities of the watershed all have a role to play in the protection of the lake!

We invite you to consult this page to learn about actions that you can take.

Rainwater Management with Pervious Surfaces

The Impact of Ground Impermeability on the Water Cycle. Source : http://www.obv-yamaska.qc.ca/sites/www.obv-yamaska.qc.ca/files/u3/Fiche_imperm%C3%A9abilisation.pdf

Making the ground surface impermeable so that water can no longer infiltrate into the soil has a large negative impact on the quality of waterways. Water flowing over these impervious surfaces, such as asphalt, are contaminated by the pollutants salt and hydrocarbons from vehicle exhausts. This is the greatest pollution source of water courses. In contrast, water which infiltrates the soil is cleaned as the suspended particles and other contaminants are removed.

Around homes, parking surfaces should be reduced to the minimum required by the residents. In preference, uniformly-sized crushed gravel is a better environmental choice for those areas. Other choices, somewhat less known, are the use of permeable paving bricks and those which accept turf inserts.

Rainwater collector barrel

Turf Blocks . Source : http://www.protegez-vous.ca

Roofs are also impermeable surfaces. One method to control rainwater runoff is to direct the downspout towards a flower bed or a 'rain garden'. This will increase rain absorption compared to the runoff from
 a traditional lawn.

A dry well is another possibility. This is an underground pit that is filled with rocks into which the rainwater downspout is directed. The water gradually infiltrates into the ground from this pit.

A rainwater collector barrel can also be installed at the bottom of a downspout. This can be used as a water reservoir for the garden during dry spells.

For more information on the fabrication of a rainwater barrel, visit :

Septic systems

Septic systems need to be maintained in good working order to reduce the pollution of aquatic areas caused by residential waste water. If defective, the septic system can allow large quantities of phosphates into into ground water and water courses. The over abundance of phosphorous in lake water encourages blue-green algae bloom.

To learn more about this subject, refer to the section Septic Installations of this website.

Septic Installation Conforming to Environmental Norms Source : http://www.expertdrains.com/fr/services/fosse-septique

Landscape and Lawn Maintenance

Conventional lawns are seen as homogeneous, composed of short dense grasses and require large investments in time and money. Also, the fertilizers and other products that are often used, wash out of the lawn and into water courses. It is important to know pesticides applied to lawns not only kill undesirable plants, animals and insects, but also beneficial organisms in the soil.

Source : http://www.equiterre.org/sites/fichiers/images/petit_pied448x216.jpg

Herbicyclage.Source : www.ecopatrouille.org/fr/herbicyclage_44/

The faulty use of fertilizers can have unfortunate impacts on land and aquatic areas. The phosphorous which is contained in them encourages the proliferation of blue-green algae in lakes. Fertilizers also pollute ground water. If there is a real necessity for fertilizer, choose a slow-release, natural one without phosphorous or less than 3% of this mineral. Never apply the product before rain, in order to allow the maximum absorption of the nutrients by the vegetation. To further reduce the need for fertilizer, allow the grass cuttings to remain on the lawn which will recycle the nutrients for you. 

To learn more about eco-lawns and pesticides, go to the MCI pages on these subjects (In French only).


MCI actively assists in the planting of trees in the lake watershed. Trees provide so many benefits for the watershed that it would be foolish not to do so. These benefits include:

- Habitat for animals
-Stabilization of soil and reduction of erosion
-More attractive landscape
-Capture of sediments and pollutants
-And much more!

The Forest Cover section explains the importance of conserving trees. It is suggested that a tree canopy should cover at least 60% of a property, and that trees should not be cut, except as a last resort. If land is sloped, trees cutting is strongly discouraged.

It is easy to contribute to the collective effort of replanting! Each spring, trees are distributed in various municipalities around the lake, to allow all residents to plant them on their own property. Keep current with MCI's activities and those of the City of Magog to know the dates and locations of distribution.

MCI volunteers distribute trees to the Municipality of Stanstead County, 2015.


Certain cleaning products still contain phosphorous and other contaminants and they should be
 avoided too. These products can be replaced by mixtures with less noxious effects on the environment. Lemon juice,
baking soda and vinegar are the base ingredients for more ecological cleaning. Other less common products such as borax are generally sold in natural food stores. Alternative solutions exist for all parts of the house from carpets to bathrooms and windows. A trial of these easy recipes will convince you!

When purchasing household cleaning products, choose biodegradable products without phosphates. When shopping, look for labels with the EcoLogo symbol to help you make better choices for the environment.

Water Fowl

Water fowl, especially ducks, are an integral part of the life cycle of the swimmers' dermatitus parasite called Cercaria, whose larvae live part of their lives in snails. One 2013 study by the MCI patrol showed that there is a link between the number of these aquatic birds, of Cercaria and the frequency of swimmers' dermatitus declared by lake shore residents. Also, the excretions of the birds deteriorate water quality by increasing phosphorous and fecal Coliform bacteria.

Life cycle of cercaria
Source: www.mfa.gouv.qc.ca

Giving food to ducks and other migrant birds, attracts them in greater numbers than would naturally occur, and this for a longer period during the year. Thus, to avoid increasing the incidence of swimmers' dermatitus and acceleration of the decline of Lake Memphremagog, do not feed these birds.

Link to Environment Canada information on Canada Geese: http://publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/CW66-255-2006E.pdf


Every landowner in the lake watershed can actively protect the lake and surrounding land.
Legal conservation of natural areas will help to assure their long term survival through means such as ecogifts, conservation servitudes, nature reserves and sale to conservation organizations.

Such concrete steps can bring long term benefits for ourselves, wildlife, plants and the quality of water courses. You can learn more about these initiatives by referring to MCI Conservation Initiative on this website.



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