Jock River Subwatershed Report 2016
JOCK RIVER-RICHMOND CATCHMENT
The RVCA produces individual reports for 12 catchments in the Jock River subwatershed. Using data collected and analyzed by the RVCA through its watershed monitoring and land cover classification programs, surface water quality and in-stream conditions are reported for the Jock River along with a summary of environmental conditions for the surrounding countryside every six years.
This information is used to better understand the effects of human activity on our water resources, allows us to better track environmental change over time and helps focus watershed management actions where they are needed the most to help sustain the ecosystem services (cultural, aesthetic and recreational values; provisioning of food, fuel and clean water; regulation of erosion/natural hazard protection and water purification; supporting nutrient/water cycling and habitat provision) provided by the catchment’s lands and forests and waters (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005).
The following sections of this report for the Jock River - Richmond catchment are a compilation of that work.
|Surface Water Quality Conditions
|Land Stewardship and Water Resources Protection
For other Jock River catchments and the Jock River Subwatershed Report, please visit the RVCA website at www.rvca.ca
Figure 1 Land cover in the Jock River - Richmond catchment
1.0 Jock River-Richmond Catchment: Facts
1.1 General/Physical Geography
- Ottawa: (31 km2; 100% of catchment)
- The Richmond Catchment resides within an extensive physiographic region known as the Ottawa Valley Clay Plain. This part of the clay plain ranges from being very thin to approximately 8 to 10 metres deep. In the western part of this catchment, the clay plain transitions to an extensive and deep sand plain. There is also some areas of glacial till along the southern boundary of the catchment
- In this catchment, the clay and sand plains are underlain by dolostone of the Oxford Formation and sandstone with shale and limestone from the Rockcliffe Formation. In addition, a geologic fault may pass through the catchment
- The ground surface ranges in elevation from approximately 106 masl near Conley Road to approximately 92 masl at the catchment’s outlet
- 31 square kilometers; occupies five percent of the Jock River subwatershed, less than one percent of the Rideau Valley watershed
- Jock River and tributaries: 60 km
1.2 Vulnerable Areas
- Jock River is subject to a flooding hazard during the regional storm flood (the 100 year flood). Surveys and studies undertaken in accordance with provincial standards have determined that the 100 year flood elevation in the catchment ranges from 97.5 metres above mean sea level at the upper, mapped extent of the regulation limit adjacent to the Richmond Fen provincially significant wetland to 93.5 metres above mean sea level at Eagleson Road
- The Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection initiative has mapped the western part of this catchment as a significant groundwater recharge area; and the southern extent of the catchment as Highly Vulnerable Aquifer. Wellhead Protection Areas (WHPA) A and B, and part of WHPA C and D for the municipal wells in Richmond, underlie the southern half of this catchment
- A watershed model developed by the RVCA in 2009 was used to study the hydrologic function of wetlands in the Rideau Valley Watershed, including those found in the Richmond catchment
1.3 Conditions at a Glance
- Surface chemistry water quality rating on the Jock River in the Jock River-Richmond catchment is “Fair” over the two reporting periods (2004-2009 and 2010-2015). The score at this site reflects few exceedances across measured parameters with occasional instances of elevated nutrients and bacterial counts
- Instream biological water quality conditions at the Jock River Richmond sample location range from “ Poor” to “Fair” from 2004 to 2015 (using a grading scheme developed by Ontario Conservation Authorities in Ontario for benthic invertebrates) with an overall benthic invertebrate water quality rating of “Fairly Poor” determined for this period
Instream and Riparian
- Overall instream and riparian condition for the Jock River-Richmond catchment as assessed by the stream characterization and headwater drainage feature assessment programs show that the Jock River and its tributaries are in generally good condition. The majority of the system has low erosion levels and a healthy forested riparian corridor along the Jock River and wetland along Marlborough Creek. Instream diversity of aquatic habitat is fairly complex along most of the Jock River, while the lower reach of Marlborough Creek is dominated by low complex habitat values
- Warm/cool water thermal guild supporting the Jock River/Rideau River fishery
- Thirty-nine species of recreational and bait fish
Shoreline Cover Type (30 m. riparian area; 2014)
- Crop and Pasture (39%)
- Wetland (20%)
- Woodland (20%)
- Settlement (9%)
- Transportation (7%)
- Meadow-Thicket (5%)
Land Cover Type (2014)
- Crop and Pasture (47%)
- Woodland (16%)
- Wetland (15%)
- Settlement (14%)
- Transportation (5%)
- Meadow-Thicket (2%)
- Water (1%)
Land Cover Change (2008 to 2014)
- Woodland (-42 ha)
- Meadow-Thicket (-42 ha)
- Wetland (-12 ha)
- Water (0 ha)
- Transportation (+8 ha)
- Settlement (+24 ha)
- Crop and Pasture (+63 ha)
Significant Natural Features
- Richmond Fen Provincially Significant Wetland
- 1400 (approximately) operational private water wells in the Richmond Catchment. Groundwater uses are mainly domestic, but also include groundwater monitoring and testing, municipal and other public water supplies, livestock watering, and commercial and industrial uses
- No sand and gravel pit licenses or open or closed bedrock quarries and no primary sand and gravel aggregate resource
Species at Risk (Elemental Occurrence)
- Henslow's Sparrow (Endangered)
- Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark (Threatened)
- Snapping Turtle, Yellow Rail (Special Concern)
1.4 Catchment Care
- Seventy-five stewardship projects undertaken (see Section 5)
- Chemical surface (in-stream) water quality collection since 2003 (see Section 2)
- Benthic invertebrate (aquatic insect) surface (in-stream) water quality collection since 2003 (see Section 3.3.1)
- Fish survey along the Jock River (see Section 3.3.11)
- Stream characterization survey on the Jock River in 2015, working upstream to the headwaters from its mouth where it empties into the Rideau River, taking measurements and recording observations on instream habitat, bank stability, other attributes and preparing a temperature profile (see Section 3)
- Nine headwater drainage feature assessments in 2015 at road crossings in the catchment. The protocol measures zero, first and second order headwater drainage features and is a rapid assessment method characterizing the amount of water, sediment transport, and storage capacity within headwater drainage features (see Section 3.4)
- Additional groundwater chemistry information is available from the Ontario Geological Survey for a well located in this catchment
- Development along the Jock River, Marlborough Creek and Van Gaal Drain and in and adjacent to the Richmond Fen provincially significant wetland in the catchment is subject to Ontario Regulation 174-06 (entitled “Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses”) that protects the hydrologic function of the wetland and also protects landowners and their property from natural hazards (flooding, fluctuating water table, unstable slopes/ soils) associated with them
- Richmond Weir is operated by the RVCA in the Village of Richmond
- Twelve active Permits To Take Water (PTTW) in the Richmond Catchment issued for construction dewatering, municipal water supply and wildlife conservation
- Eleven Environmental Compliance Approvals in the Richmond Catchment. Most are for municipal or private sewage works. One is for an industrial sewage work
2.0 Jock River-Richmond Catchment: Surface Water Quality Conditions
Surface water quality conditions in the Jock River-Richmond catchment are monitored by the City of Ottawa Baseline Water Quality Monitoring Program. This program provides information on the condition of Ottawa’s surface water resources; data is collected for multiple parameters including nutrients (total phosphorus, total Kjeldahl nitrogen and ammonia), E. coli, metals (like aluminum and copper) and additional chemical/physical parameters (such as alkalinity, chlorides, pH and total suspended solids). The locations of monitoring sites are shown in Figure 2 and Table 1.
Figure 2 Water quality monitoring site on the Jock River in the Jock River-Richmond Catchment
2.1 Jock River Water Quality Rating
The RVCA's water quality rating for this site (JR-12) is “Fair” (Table 1) as determined by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Water Quality Index. A “Fair” rating indicates that water quality is usually protected but occasionally threatened or impaired; conditions sometime depart from natural or desirable levels. Each parameter is evaluated against established guidelines to determine water quality conditions. Those parameters that are more likely to exceed guidelines are presented below. Analysis of the data has been broken into two periods; 2004 to 2009 and 2010 to 2015 to examine if conditions have changed between these periods. Table 1 shows the overall rating for the monitored surface water quality site within the Jock River-Richmond catchment and Table 2 outlines the Water Quality Index (WQI) scores and their corresponding ratings.
There is one monitored water quality site on the Jock River within the Jock River-Richmond Catchment (JR-12, Figure 2). The water quality score at this site reflects few exceedances across measured parameters with occasional instances of elevated nutrients and bacterial counts. For more information on the CCME WQI, please see the Jock River Subwatershed Report.
Water Quality Index rating for the Jock River-Richmond catchment
|Sampling Site||Location ||2004-2009||Rating|
|JR-12||Jock River at 6197 Ottawa St (dead-end), south of Fowler St. ||73||Fair|
|Sampling Site||Location ||2010-2015||Rating|
|JR-12||Jock River at 6197 Ottawa St (dead-end), south of Fowler St. ||75||Fair|Table 2
Water Quality Index ratings and corresponding index scores (RVCA terminology, original WQI category names in brackets)
|Very Good (Excellent)||95-100|
|Very Poor (Poor)||0-44|
Total phosphorus (TP) is used as a primary indicator of excessive nutrient loading and may contribute to abundant aquatic vegetation growth and depleted dissolved oxygen levels. The Provincial Water Quality Objective (PWQO) is used as the TP Guideline and states that in streams concentrations greater than 0.030 mg/l indicate an excessive amount of TP.
Total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) and ammonia (NH3) are used as secondary indicators of nutrient loading. RVCA uses a guideline of 0.500 mg/l to assess TKN and the PWQO of 0.020 mg/l to assess NH3 concentrations in the Jock River.
Tables 3, 4 and 5 summarize average nutrient concentrations at monitored sites within the Jock River-Richmond catchment and show the proportion of results that meet the guidelines.
Summary of total phosphorus results for the Jock River-Richmond catchment, 2004-2009 and 2010-2015. Highlighted values indicate average concentrations exceed the guideline
|Total Phosphorous 2004-2009|
|Site||Average (mg/l)||Below Guideline||No. Samples|
|Total Phosphorous 2010-2015|
|Site||Average (mg/l)||Below Guideline||No. Samples|
Summary of total Kjeldahl nitrogen results for the Jock River-Richmond catchment from 2004-2009 and 2010-2015. Highlighted values indicate average concentrations exceed the guideline
|Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen 2004-2009|
|Site||Average (mg/l)||Below Guideline||No. Samples|
|Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen 2010-2015|
|Site||Average (mg/l)||Below Guideline||No. Samples|
Summary of ammonia results for Jock River-Richmond catchment from 2004-2009 and 2010-2015
|Site||Average (mg/l)||Below Guideline||No. Samples|
|Site||Average (mg/l)||Below Guideline||No. Samples|
Monitoring Site JR-12
Elevated TP results were a common occurrence at site JR-12 and stayed fairly consistent between the two monitoring periods. Fifty-eight percent of samples were below the guideline in the 2004-2009 period (Figure 3); this improved slightly to 64 percent of samples in the 2010-2015 period (Figure 4). The average TP concentration increased marginally from 0.029 mg/l (2004-2009) to 0.032 mg/l (2010-2015) as shown in Table 3.
The bulk of TKN results have exceeded the guideline (Figure 5 and 6), with 13 percent of samples below the guideline in the 2004-2009 period, decreasing to only two samples below the guideline in 2010-2015. The average concentration was elevated and increased from 0.756 mg/l to 0.830 mg/l (Table 4).
The results for NH3 showed few exceedances occurred. Ninety-six percent of results were below the guideline in 2004-2009 (Figure 7); this decreased to 89 percent in the 2010-2015 reporting period (Figure 8). The average NH3 concentration increased marginally from 0.009 mg/l to 0.010 mg/l (Table 5).
Figure 3 Total phosphorous concentrations in the Jock River, 2004-2009
Figure 4 Total phosphorous concentrations in the Jock River, 2010-2015
Figure 5 Total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in the Jock River, 2004-2009
Figure 6 Total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in the Jock River, 2010-2015
Figure 7 Ammonia concentrations in the Jock River, 2004-2009
Figure 8 Ammonia concentrations in the Jock River, 2010-2015
Nutrient enrichment is a feature in this reach of the Jock River. The Jock River was previously identified as having a marginal rating (i.e. exceeded targets occasionally) for phosphorus (City of Ottawa, Water Environment Protection Program , 2006). Overall, average nutrient concentrations have remained consistent through the monitoring periods. The elevated TKN concentrations and low NH3 results provide evidence that nutrient enrichment may be a natural feature in this part of the river. Upstream of JR-12 there is little development and large wetland areas which likely contribute to high levels of organic nutrients, such as TKN. Elevated nutrients may contribute to nutrient loading downstream and to the Rideau River.
High nutrient concentrations can help stimulate the growth of algae blooms and other aquatic vegetation in a waterbody and deplete oxygen levels as the vegetation dies off. Best management practices such as minimizing storm water runoff, enhanced shoreline buffers, preventing the use of fertilizers and restricting livestock access should all be employed to prevent unnecessary nutrient loading to downstream reaches.
2.3 Escherichia coli
Escherichia coli (E. coli) is used as an indicator of bacterial pollution from human or animal waste; in elevated concentrations it can pose a risk to human health. The PWQO of 100 colony forming units/100 millilitres (CFU/100 ml) is used. E. coli counts greater than this guideline indicate that bacterial contamination may be a problem within a waterbody.
Table 6 summarizes the geometric mean for the monitored site on the Jock River within the Richmond catchment and shows the proportion of samples that meet the E. coli guideline of 100 CFU/100 ml. The results of the geometric mean with respect to the guideline for the two periods, 2004-2009 and 2010-2015, are shown in Figures 9 and 10.
Summary of E. coli results for the Jock River, 2004-2009 and 2010-2015
|E. coli 2004-2009|
|Site||Geometric Mean (CFU/100ml)||Below Guideline||No. Samples|
|E. coli 2010-2015|
|Site||Geometric Mean (CFU/100ml)||Below Guideline||No. Samples|
Monitoring Site JR-12
E. coli counts at site JR-12 were occasionally elevated. The proportion of samples below the guideline decreased from 69 percent (Figure 9) from 2004-2009 to 52 percent (Figure 10) from 2010-2015. The geometric mean also increased between the two monitoring periods from 61 CFU/100ml to 91 CFU/100ml (Table 6).
Figure 9 Geometric mean of E. coli results in the Jock River, 2004-2009
Figure 10 Geometric mean of E. coli results in the Jock River, 2010-2015
Bacterial contamination does not appear to be a significant problem in this reach of the Jock River, however due to the apparent increase in counts between the two time periods it should be given greater concern. Best management practices such as enhancing shoreline buffers, restricting livestock access and minimizing storm water runoff can help to protect this reach of the Jock River into the future.
1 No Ontario guideline for TKN is presently available; however, waters not influenced by excessive organic inputs typically range from 0.100 to 0.500 mg/l, Environment Canada (1979) Water Quality Sourcebook, A Guide to Water Quality Parameters, Inland Waters Directorate, Water Quality Branch, Ottawa, Canada
2A type of mean or average, which indicates the central tendency or typical value of a set of numbers by using the product of their values (as opposed to the arithmetic mean which uses their sum). It is often used to summarize a variable that varies over several orders of magnitude, such as E. coli counts
3.0 Jock River-Richmond Catchment: Riparian Conditions
The stream characterization program surveyed the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment area. Marlborough Creek is a tributary of the Jock River that enters the Jock River from the south immediately downstream of Eagleson Road. Results for both systems have been summarized separately for each indicator.
3.1 Jock River Overbank Zone
3.1.1 Riparian Buffer Width Evaluation
Figures 11 and 12 demonstrate the buffer conditions along the left and right banks of the Jock River and Marlborough Creek. The Jock River in the Richmond catchment had a buffer of greater than 30 meters along 88 percent of the right bank and 87 percent of the left bank. A five meter or less buffer was present along only three percent of its right and left banks. Marlborough Creek had a buffer of greater than 30 meters along 99 percent of both the right and left banks. A five meter or less buffer was present along one percent of its right and left banks.
Figure 11 Riparian Buffer Evaluation along the Jock River in the Richmond catchment
Figure 12 Riparian Buffer Evaluation along Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.1.2 Riparian Buffer Alterations
Alterations within the riparian buffer were assessed within three distinct shoreline zones (0-5m, 5-15m, 15-30m), and evaluated based on the dominant vegetative community and/or land cover type (Figure 13). The riparian buffer zone along the Jock River within the Richmond catchment was found to have variable conditions along the corridor. These alterations were generally associated with reduced shoreline buffers and residential/agricultural land use. Marlborough Creek is fairly uniform with conditions being predominantly natural.
Figure 13 Riparian buffer alterations along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.1.3 Adjacent Land Use
The RVCA’s Stream Characterization Program identifies eight different land uses beside the Jock River in the Richmond catchment (Figure 14). Surrounding land use is considered from the beginning to end of the survey section (100m) and up to 100m on each side of the river. Land use outside of this area is not considered for the surveys but is nonetheless part of the subwatershed and will influence the creek. Natural areas made up 74 percent of the stream, characterized by forest, scrubland, meadow and wetland. Forest habitat was dominant in the adjacent lands along the Jock River in the Richmond catchment at 51 percent. The remaining land use consisted of active agriculture, abandoned agriculture, residential and recreational.
Figure 14 Land Use along Jock River in the Richmond catchment
Natural areas made up 93 percent of Marlborough Creek characterized by forest, scrubland, meadow and wetland. Wetland habitat was dominant in the adjacent lands along Marlborough Creek at 44 percent. The remaining land use consisted of active agriculture, residential, infrastructure and industrial/commercial (Figure 15).
Figure 15 Land Use along Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.2 Jock River Shoreline Zone
3.2.1 Instream Erosion
Stream erosion is the process by which water erodes and transports sediments, resulting in dynamic flows and diverse habitat conditions. Excessive erosion can result in drastic environmental changes, as habitat conditions, water quality and aquatic life are all negatively affected. Bank stability was assessed as the overall extent of each section with “unstable” shoreline conditions. These conditions are defined by the presence of significant exposed soils/roots, minimal bank vegetation, severe undercutting, slumping or scour and potential failed erosion measures. Figure 16 shows low levels of erosion along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment.
Figure 16 Erosion along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.2.2 Undercut Stream Banks
Stream bank undercuts can provide excellent cover habitat for aquatic life, however excessive levels can be an indication of unstable shoreline conditions. Bank undercut was assessed as the overall extent of each surveyed section with overhanging bank cover present. Figure 17 shows that Jock River in the Richmond catchment had low to high levels of undercut banks along the system. Marlborough Creek had no undercut banks along most of the system with the exception of a few sections in the upper reach with low to moderate levels of undercut banks.
Figure 17 Undercut stream banks along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.2.3 Stream Shading
Grasses, shrubs and trees all contribute towards shading a stream. Shade is important in moderating stream temperature, contributing to food supply and helping with nutrient reduction within a stream. Stream cover is assessed as the total coverage area in each section that is shaded by overhanging trees/grasses and tree canopy, at greater than 1m above the water surface. Figure 18 shows low to moderate levels of stream shading dominate conditions in most reaches of the Jock River in the Richmond catchment. Marlborough Creek had high levels of stream shading along much of the system.
Figure 18 Stream shading along Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.2.4 Instream Woody Debris
Figure 19 shows that the majority of the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment had low levels of instream woody debris in the form of branches and trees. Instream woody debris is important for fish and benthic invertebrate habitat, by providing refuge and feeding areas.
Figure 19 Instream woody debris along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.2.5 Overhanging Trees and Branches
Trees and branches that are less than one meter from the surface of the water are defined as overhanging. Overhanging branches and trees provide a food source, nutrients and shade which helps to moderate instream water temperatures. Figure 20 shows that both systems are highly variable with low to high levels of overhanging branches and trees in the Richmond catchment.
Figure 20 Overhanging trees and branches along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.2.6 Anthropogenic Alterations
Stream alterations are classified based on specific functional criteria associated with the flow conditions, the riparian buffer and potential human influences. Figure 21 shows 62 percent of the Jock River in the Richmond catchment remains “unaltered” with no anthropogenic alterations. Thirty seven percent of Jock River in the Richmond catchment was classified as natural with minor anthropogenic changes and two percent was considered altered. The alterations along the Jock River in this reach were in the form of reduced buffers, shoreline modifications and road crossings.
Figure 21 Anthropogenic alterations along the Jock River in the Richmond catchment
Figure 22 shows 80 percent of Marlborough Creek remains “unaltered” with no anthropogenic alterations. Twenty percent of Marlborough Creek was classified as natural with minor anthropogenic changes. There were minimal anthropogenic alterations observed along the system.
Figure 22 Anthropogenic alterations along Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.3 Jock River/Marlborough Creek Instream Aquatic Habitat
3.3.1 Benthic Invertebrates
Freshwater benthic invertebrates are animals without backbones that live on the stream bottom and include crustaceans such as crayfish, molluscs and immature forms of aquatic insects. Benthos represent an extremely diverse group of aquatic animals and exhibit wide ranges of responses to stressors such as organic pollutants, sediments and toxicants, which allows scientists to use them as bioindicators. As part of the Ontario Benthic Biomonitoring Network (OBBN), the RVCA has been collecting benthic invertebrates at the Ottawa River site on the Jock River since 2004. Monitoring data is analyzed for each sample site and the results are presented using the Family Biotic Index, Family Richness and percent Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera.
Hilsenhoff Family Biotic Index
The Hilsenhoff Family Biotic Index (FBI) is an indicator of organic and nutrient pollution and provides an estimate of water quality conditions for each site using established pollution tolerance values for benthic invertebrates. FBI results for the Jock River Richmond catchment sample location at Ottawa street are separated by reporting period 2004 to 2009 and 2010 to 2015. “Fair” to “Poor” water quality conditions being observed at the Jock River Richmond sample location for the period from 2004 to 2015 (Figure 23) using a grading scheme developed by Conservation Authorities in Ontario for benthic invertebrates.
Figure 23 Hilsenhoff Family Biotic Index at the Jock River Ottawa Street sample location
Family Richness measures the health of the community through its diversity and increases with increasing habitat diversity suitability and healthy water quality conditions. Family Richness is equivalent to the total number of benthic invertebrate families found within a sample. The Jock River Richmond site is reported to have “Fair” family richness (Figure 24).
Figure 24 Family Richness at the Jock River Ottawa Street sample location
Ephemeroptera (Mayflies), Plecoptera (Stoneflies), and Trichoptera (Caddisflies) are species considered to be very sensitive to poor water quality conditions. High abundance of these organisms is generally an indication of good water quality conditions at a sample location. The EPT indicates that the Jock River Richmond sample location is reported to have “Fairly poor” water quality (Figure 25) from 2004 to 2015.
Figure 25 EPT at the Jock River Ottawa Street sample location
Overall the Jock River Richmond catchment sample location aquatic habitat conditions from a benthic invertebrate perspective is considered “Fairly Poor” from 2004 to 2015 as the samples are dominated by species that are moderately sensitive and sensitive to high organic pollution levels.
3.3.2 Habitat Complexity
Habitat complexity is a measure of the overall diversity of habitat types and features within a stream. Streams with high habitat complexity support a greater variety of species niches, and therefore contribute to greater diversity. Factors such as substrate, flow conditions (pools, riffles) and cover material (vegetation, wood structure, etc.) all provide crucial habitat to aquatic life. Habitat complexity is assessed based on the presence of boulder, cobble and gravel substrates, as well as the presence of instream woody material.
Diverse habitat cover was identified throughout the Jock River Richmond reach and Marlborough Creek, with considerable coverage across the surveyed stream (Figure 26). Many of these sections represent potentially crucial habitat for resident species. Regions with reduced habitat complexity were observed in the lower reaches for both systems within the catchment.
Figure 26 Habitat complexity along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.3.3 Instream Substrate
Diverse substrate is important for fish and benthic invertebrate habitat because some species have specific substrate requirements and for example will only reproduce on certain types of substrate. The absence of diverse substrate types may limit the overall diversity of species within a stream. Figure 27 shows that cobble was present within 75% of the sections, gravel was present at 73% and boulders were present in 69% of surveyed sections. Overall substrate conditions were diverse along the Jock River Richmond reach.
Figure 27 Instream substrate along the Jock River in the Richmond catchment
Figure 28 shows the types of substrate present along Marlborough Creek. Silt was observed within 98% of the sections, clay was present at 80% and boulders were present in 63% of surveyed sections. Cobble was present at 58% of the sections, while gravel was observed at 25% of the sections. Overall there was less diversity in Marlborough Creek than in the Jock River in the Richmond catchment.
Figure 28 Instream substrate along Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
Figure 29 shows the dominant substrate type observed for each section surveyed along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment.
Figure 29 Dominant substrate type along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.3.4 Instream Morphology
Pools and riffles are important habitat features for aquatic life. Riffles are fast flowing areas characterized by agitation and overturn of the water surface. Riffles thereby play a crucial role in contributing to dissolved oxygen conditions and directly support spawning for some fish species. They are also areas that support high benthic invertebrate populations which are an important food source for many aquatic species. Pools are characterized by minimal flows, with relatively deep water and winter and summer refuge habitat for aquatic species. Runs are moderately shallow, with unagitated surfaces of water and areas where the thalweg (deepest part of the channel) is in the center of the channel. Figure 30 shows that the Jock River is fairly diverse; 76 percent consists of runs, 20 percent riffles and four percent pools.
Figure 30 Instream morphology along the Jock River in the Richmond catchment
Figure 31 shows that Marlborough Creek is fairly diverse; 50 percent consists of pools, 45 percent runs and five percent riffles.
Figure 31 Instream morphology along Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
Figure 32 shows where the riffle habitat areas were observed along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment.
Figure 32 Riffle habitat locations along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.3.5 Vegetation Type
Instream vegetation provides a variety of functions and is a critical component of the aquatic ecosystem. Aquatic plants promote stream health by:
- Providing direct riparian/instream habitat
- Stabilizing flows reducing shoreline erosion
- Contributing to dissolved oxygen through photosynthesis
- Maintaining temperature conditions through shading
For example emergent plants along the shoreline can provide shoreline protection from wave action and important rearing habitat for species of waterfowl. Submerged plants provide habitat for fish to find shelter from predator fish while they feed. Floating plants such as water lilies shade the water and can keep temperatures cool while reducing algae growth. Narrow leaved emergents were present at 88% of the sections surveyed, algae was observed in 90% of sections, while free floating plants were observed in 62% of surveyed sections. Broad leaved emergents were observed in 77% of sections, submerged plants in 83%, floating plants in 63% and robust emergents in 19% of sections surveyed. Figure 33 depicts the plant community structure for the Jock River Richmond catchment.
Figure 33 Vegetation type along the Jock River in the Richmond catchment
Algae was observed in 100% of sections, narrow leaved emergents were present at 93% of the sections surveyed, while free floating plants were observed in 60% of the Marlborough Creek surveyed sections. Broad leaved emergents were observed in 68% of sections, submerged plants in 78%, floating plants in 80% and robust emergents in 50% of sections surveyed. Figure 35 depicts the plant community structure for Marlborough Creek.
Figure 34 Vegetation type along Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
Figure 35 Dominant vegetation type along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.3.6 Instream Vegetation Abundance
Instream vegetation is an important factor for a healthy stream ecosystem. Vegetation helps to remove contaminants from the water, contributes oxygen to the stream, and provides habitat for fish and wildlife. Too much vegetation can also be detrimental. Figure 36 demonstrates that the Jock River Richmond reach had normal to common levels of vegetation recorded at 55 percent of stream surveys. Low to rare levels of vegetation were observed at 40% of the stream sections.
Figure 36 Instream vegetation abundance along the Jock River in the Richmond catchment
Figure 37 demonstrates that Marlborough Creek had normal to common levels of vegetation recorded at 32 percent of stream surveys. Extensive levels of vegetation was observed at 62% of the stream sections and was consistent with areas dominated by the invasive aquatic plant European frogbit.
Figure 37 Instream vegetation abundance along Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.3.7 Invasive Species
Invasive species can have major implications on streams and species diversity. Invasive species are one of the largest threats to ecosystems throughout Ontario and can out compete native species, having negative effects on local wildlife, fish and plant populations. Sixty nine percent of the sections surveyed along the Jock River Richmond reach had invasive species, while 100 percent of Marlborough Creek had invasive species (Figure 38). The invasive species observed in the Jock River were European frogbit, purple loosestrife, poison/wild parsnip, banded mystery snail, Himalayan balsam, yellow iris, Phragmites and Manitoba maple. The invasive species observed in Marlborough Creek were European frogbit, European/Black alder, purple loosestrife, poison/wild parsnip, common/glossy buckthorn, banded mystery snail, garlic mustard and Manitoba maple. Invasive species abundance (i.e. the number of observed invasive species per section) was assessed to determine the potential range/vector of many of these species (Figure 38).
Figure 38 Invasive species abundance along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.3.8 Water Chemistry
During the stream characterization survey, a YSI probe is used to collect water chemistry information. Dissolved oxygen (DO), specific conductivity (SPC) and pH are measured at the start and end of each section.
220.127.116.11 Dissolved Oxygen
Dissolved oxygen is a measure of the amount of oxygen dissolved in water. The Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) suggest that for the protection of aquatic life the lowest acceptable dissolved oxygen concentration should be 6 mg/L for warmwater biota and 9.5 mg/L for coldwater biota (CCME, 1999). Figure 39 shows that the dissolved oxygen in the Jock River Richmond catchment was below the threshold for warmwater biota in the upper sections of this reach of the system. The average dissolved oxygen levels observed in the Jock River was 7.91 mg/L which is within the recommended levels for warm and cool water biota (Figure 39).
Figure 39 Dissolved oxygen ranges in the Jock River in the Richmond catchment
The average dissolved oxygen levels observed within Marlborough Creek was 7.68 mg/L which is within the recommended levels for warm and cool water biota (Figure 40).
Figure 40 Dissolved oxygen ranges in Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
Conductivity in streams is primarily influenced by the geology of the surrounding environment, but can vary drastically as a function of surface water runoff. Currently there are no CCME guideline standards for stream conductivity; however readings which are outside the normal range observed within the system are often an indication of unmitigated discharge and/or stormwater input. The average conductivity observed within the main stem of Jock River in the Richmond catchment was 480.15 µs/cm (Figure 41).
Figure 41 Specific conductivity ranges in the Jock River in the Richmond catchment
Average conductivity observed within Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment was 964.41 µs/cm (Figure 42). These levels would be considered higher than most systems in the Jock River watershed.
Figure 42 Specific conductivity ranges in Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
Based on the PWQO for pH, a range of 6.5 to 8.5 should be maintained for the protection of aquatic life. Average pH values for the Jock River in the Richmond catchment averaged 7.97 (Figure 43).
Figure 43 pH ranges in the Jock River in the Richmond catchment
Average pH values averaged 7.91 for Marlborough Creek thereby meeting the provincial standard (Figure 44).
Figure 44 pH ranges in Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
18.104.22.168 Oxygen Saturation
Oxygen saturation is measured as the ratio of dissolved oxygen relative to the maximum amount of oxygen that will dissolve based on the temperature and atmospheric pressure. Well oxygenated water will stabilize at or above 100% saturation, however the presence of decaying matter/pollutants can drastically reduce these levels. Oxygen input through photosynthesis has the potential to increase saturation above 100% to a maximum of 500%, depending on the productivity level of the environment. In order to represent the relationship between concentration and saturation, the measured values have been summarized into 6 classes:
- <100% Saturation / <6.0 mg/L Concentration. Oxygen concentration and saturation are not sufficient to support aquatic life and may represent impairment
- >100% Saturation / <6.0 mg/L Concentration. Oxygen concentration is not sufficient to support aquatic life, however saturation levels indicate that the water has stabilized at its estimated maximum. This is indicative of higher water temperatures and stagnant flows.
- <100% Saturation / 6.0-9.5 mg/L Concentration. Oxygen concentration is sufficient to support warm water biota, however depletion factors are likely present and are limiting maximum saturation.
- >100% Saturation / 6.0-9.5 mg/L Concentration. Oxygen concentration and saturation levels are optimal for warm water biota.
- <100% Saturation / >9.5 mg/L Concentration. Oxygen concentration is sufficient to support cold water biota, however depletion factors are likely present and are limiting maximum saturation.
- 6) >100% Saturation / >9.5 mg/L Concentration. Oxygen concentration and saturation levels are optimal for coldwater biota.
Figure 45 A bivariate assessment of dissolved oxygen concentration (mg/L) and saturation (%) on the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
Dissolved oxygen conditions on the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment are highly variable with areas that are sufficient to support a mixed community; while certain sections had levels that were insufficient to support warm and coldwater biota (Figure 45).
22.214.171.124 Specific Conductivity
Specific conductivity (SPC) is a standardized measure of electrical conductance, collected at or corrected to a water temperature of 25⁰C. SPC is directly related to the concentration of ions in water, and is commonly influenced by the presence of dissolved salts, alkalis, chlorides, sulfides and carbonate compounds. The higher the concentration of these compounds, the higher the conductivity. Common sources of elevated conductivity include storm water, agricultural inputs and commercial/industrial effluents.
In order to summarize the conditions observed, SPC levels were evaluated as either normal, moderately elevated or highly elevated. These categories correspond directly to the degree of variation (i.e. standard deviation) at each site relative to the average across the system.
Normal levels were maintained along the lower sections of the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment, with moderately elevated levels observed in the upper reaches of both systems (Figure 46).
Figure 46 Relative specific conductivity levels on the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.3.9 Thermal Regime
Many factors can influence fluctuations in stream temperature, including springs, tributaries, precipitation runoff, discharge pipes and stream shading from riparian vegetation. Water temperature is used along with the maximum air temperature (using the Stoneman and Jones method) to classify a watercourse as either warm water, cool water or cold water. Figure 47 shows where the thermal sampling sites were located along Jock River and Marlborough Creek. Analysis of the data collected indicates that Jock River in the Richmond catchment is classified as a warm water system with cool to warm water reaches (Figure 48). Marlborough Creek is classified as a warm water system with cool to warm water reaches (Figure 49).
Figure 47 Temperature logger locations on the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
Figure 48 Temperature logger data for three sites on Jock River in the Richmond catchment
Figure 49 Temperature logger data for the site on Marlborough Creek
Each point on the graph represents a temperature that meets the following criteria:
- Sampling dates between July 1st and September 7th
- Sampling date is preceded by two consecutive days above 24.5 °C, with no rain
- Water temperatures are collected at 4pm
- Air temperature is recorded as the max temperature for that day
Groundwater discharge areas can influence stream temperature, contribute nutrients, and provide important stream habitat for fish and other biota. During stream surveys, indicators of groundwater discharge are noted when observed. Indicators include: springs/seeps, watercress, iron staining, significant temperature change and rainbow mineral film. Figure 50 shows areas where one or more of the above groundwater indicators were observed during stream surveys and headwater assessments.
Figure 50 Groundwater indicators observed in the Richmond catchment
3.3.11 Fish Community
The Jock River Richmond catchment is classified as a mixed community of warm and cool water recreational and baitfish fishery with 39 species observed. Figure 51 shows the sampling locations along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment.
Figure 51 Jock River and Marlborough Creek fish community in the Richmond catchment
The following table contains a list of species observed in the watershed.
Fish species observed in Jock River Richmond catchment
|Fish Species||Fish code||Fish Species||Fish code|
|banded killifish||BaKil||hornyhead chub||HhChu|
|blacknose dace||BnDac||longnose dace||LnDac|
|blacknose shiner||BnShi||minnow hybrids||Hy600|
|brassy minnow||BrMin||northern pearl dace||PeDac|
|brook silverside||BrSil||northern pike||NoPik|
|brook stickleback||BrSti||northern redbelly dace||NRDac|
|central mudminnow||CeMud||rock bass||RoBas|
|central stoneroller||CeSto||shorthead redhorse||ShRed|
|common carp||CoCar||smallmouth bass||SmBas|
|common shiner||CoShi||spotfin shiner||SpShi|
|creek chub||CrChu||Spottail shiner||SfShi|
|fathead minnow||FhMin||white sucker||WhSuc|
|finescale dace||FsDac||yellow bullhead||YeBul|
Walleye and smallmouth bass captured at the Jock River embayment at the Richmond Conservation Area
Northern pike captured in the Jock River embayment at the Richmond Conservation Area
3.3.12 Migratory Obstructions
It is important to know locations of migratory obstructions because these can prevent fish from accessing important spawning and rearing habitat. Migratory obstructions can be natural or manmade, and they can be permanent or seasonal. Figure 52 shows that Jock River in the Richmond catchment had one weir which is a seasonal barrier known as the Richmond weir at the time of the survey in 2015. One debris dam was observed on Marlborough Creek at the timeof the survey in 2015.
Figure 52 Migratory obstructions along Jock River in the Richmond catchment
3.3.13 Riparian Restoration
Figure 53 depicts the locations of various riparian restoration opportunities as a result of observations made during the stream survey and headwater drainage feature assessments.
Figure 53 Riparian restoration opportunities along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.3.14 Instream Restoration
Figure 54 depicts the locations of various instream restoration opportunities as a result of observations made during the stream survey and headwater drainage feature assessments.
Figure 54 Instream restoration opportunities along the Jock River and Marlborough Creek in the Richmond catchment
3.4 Headwater Drainage Feature Assessment
3.4.1 Headwater Sampling
The RVCA Stream Characterization program assessed Headwater Drainage Features for the Jock River subwatershed in 2015. This protocol measures zero, first and second order headwater drainage features (HDF). It is a rapid assessment method characterizing the amount of water, sediment transport, and storage capacity within headwater drainage features (HDF). RVCA is working with other Conservation Authorities and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to implement the protocol with the goal of providing standard datasets to support science development and monitoring of headwater drainage features. An HDF is a depression in the land that conveys surface flow. Additionally, this module provides a means of characterizing the connectivity, form and unique features associated with each HDF (OSAP Protocol, 2013). In 2015 the program sampled 9 sites at road crossings in the Jock River Richmond catchment area (Figure 55).
Figure 55 Locations of the headwater sampling sites in the Jock River Richmond catchment
3.4.2 Headwater Feature Type
The headwater sampling protocol assesses the feature type in order to understand the function of each feature. The evaluation includes the following classifications: defined natural channel, channelized or constrained, multi-thread, no defined feature, tiled, wetland, swale, roadside ditch and pond outlet. By assessing the values associated with the headwater drainage features in the catchment area we can understand the ecosystem services that they provide to the watershed in the form of hydrology, sediment transport, and aquatic and terrestrial functions. Three features were classified as having been tiled, two were channelized, one feature was identified as a roadside drainage features, one was classified as a wetland and two feature were classified as natural. Figure 56 shows the feature type of the primary feature at the sampling locations.
Figure 56 Headwater feature types in the Jock River Richmond catchment
3.4.3 Headwater Feature Flow
The observed flow condition within headwater drainage features can be highly variable depending on timing relative to the spring freshet, recent rainfall, soil moisture, etc. Flow conditions are assessed in the spring and in the summer to determine if features are perennial and flow year round, if they are intermittent and dry up during the summer months or if they are ephemeral systems that do not flow regularly and generally respond to specific rainstorm events or snowmelt. Flow conditions in headwater systems can change from year to year depending on local precipitation patterns. Figure 57 shows the observed flow conditions at the sampling locations in the Jock River Richmond catchment in 2015.
Figure 57 Headwater feature flow conditions in the Jock River Richmond catchment
A spring photo of the headwater sample site in the Jock River Richmond catchment located on Joy’s Road
A summer photo of the headwater sample site in the Jock River Richmond catchment located on Joy’s Road
3.4.4 Headwater Feature Channel Modifications
Channel modifications were assessed at each headwater drainage feature sampling location. Modifications include channelization, dredging, hardening and realignments. The Jock River Richmond catchment area had three sites classified as having no channel modifications, four features were classified as being dredged and two had mixed modifications. Figure 58 shows the channel modifications observed at the sampling locations for Jock River Richmond.
Figure 58 Headwater feature channel modifications in the Jock River Richmond catchment
3.4.5 Headwater Feature Vegetation
Headwater feature vegetation evaluates the type of vegetation that is found within the drainage feature. The type of vegetated within the channel influences the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem values that the feature provides. For some types of headwater features the vegetation within the feature plays a very important role in flow and sediment movement and provides wildlife habitat. The following classifications are evaluated no vegetation, lawn, wetland, meadow, scrubland and forest. Figure 59 depicts the dominant vegetation observed at the sampled headwater sites in the Jock River Richmond catchment.
Figure 59 Headwater feature vegetation types in the Jock River Richmond catchment
3.4.6 Headwater Feature Riparian Vegetation
Headwater riparian vegetation evaluates the type of vegetation that is found along the adjacent lands of a headwater drainage feature. The type of vegetation within the riparian corridor influences the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem values that the feature provides to the watershed. Figure 60 depicts the type of riparian vegetation observed at the sampled headwater sites in the Jock River Richmond catchment.
Figure 60 Headwater feature riparian vegetation types in the Jock River Richmond catchment
3.4.7 Headwater Feature Sediment Deposition
Assessing the amount of recent sediment deposited in a channel provides an index of the degree to which the feature could be transporting sediment to downstream reaches (OSAP, 2013). Evidence of excessive sediment deposition might indicate the requirement to follow up with more detailed targeted assessments upstream of the site location to identify potential best management practices to be implemented. Conditions ranged from minimal to extensive deposition recorded. Figure 61 depicts the degree of sediment deposition observed at the sampled headwater sites in the Jock River Richmond catchment.
Figure 61 Headwater feature sediment deposition in the Jock River Richmond catchment
3.4.8 Headwater Feature Upstream Roughness
Feature roughness will provide a measure of the amount of materials within the bankfull channel that could slow down the velocity of water flowing within the headwater feature (OSAP, 2013). Materials on the channel bottom that provide roughness include vegetation, woody debris and boulders/cobble substrates. Roughness can provide benefits in mitigating downstream erosion on the headwater drainage feature and the receiving watercourse by reducing velocities. Roughness also provides important habitat conditions to aquatic organisms. The sample locations in the Jock River Richmond catchment area ranged from minimal to extreme roughness conditions. Figure 62 shows the feature roughness conditions at the sampling locations in the Jock River Richmond catchment.
Figure 62 Headwater feature roughness in the Jock River Richmond catchment
4.0 Jock River-Richmond Catchment: Land Cover
Land cover and any change in coverage that has occurred over a six-year period is summarized for the Jock River-Richmond catchment using spatially continuous vector data representing the catchment during the spring of 2008 and 2014. This dataset was developed by the RVCA through heads-up digitization of 20cm DRAPE ortho-imagery at a 1:4000 scale and details the surrounding landscape using 10 land cover classes.
4.1 Richmond Catchment Change
As shown in Table 8 and Figure 1, the dominant land cover type in 2014 was crop and pastureland.
Land cover (2008 vs. 2014) in the Richmond catchment
| Land Cover||2008||2014||Change - 2008 to 2014|
|Crop & Pasture||1415||45||1478||47||63||2|
* Does not include treed swamps ** Includes treed swamps
From 2008 to 2014, there was an overall change of 134 hectares (from one land cover class to another). Most of the change in the Richmond catchment is a result of the conversion of wetland and woodland and areas of meadow-thicket to crop and pastureland (Figure 63).
Figure 63 Land cover change in the Richmond catchment
Table 9 provides a detailed breakdown of all land cover change that has taken place in the Richmond catchment between 2008 and 2014.
Land cover change in the Richmond catchment (2008 to 2014)
|Land Cover||Change - 2008 to 2014|
|Meadow-Thicket to Crop and Pasture||42.9||31.9|
|Wooded Area to Crop and Pasture||31.1||23.2|
|Crop and Pasture to Settlement||19.0||14.2|
|Unevaluated Wetland to Crop and Pasture||15.8||11.8|
|Wooded Area to Settlement||7.0||5.2|
|Crop and Pasture to Transportation||5.9||4.4|
|Site Development/Preparation to Settlement||5.1||3.8|
|Wooded Area to Unevaluated Wetland||3.6||2.7|
|Settlement to Transportation||1.8||1.3|
|Crop and Pasture to Meadow-Thicket||1.1||0.9|
|Wooded Area to Transportation||0.5||0.4|
|Meadow-Thicket to Settlement||0.3||0.2|
4.2 Woodland Cover
In the Environment Canada Guideline (Third Edition) entitled “How Much Habitat Is Enough?” (hereafter referred to as the “Guideline”) the opening narrative under the Forest Habitat Guidelines section states that prior to European settlement, forest was the predominant habitat in the Mixedwood Plains ecozone. The remnants of this once vast forest now exist in a fragmented state in many areas (including the Rideau Valley watershed) with woodland patches of various sizes distributed across the settled landscape along with higher levels of forest cover associated with features such as the Frontenac Axis (within the on-Shield areas of the Rideau Lakes and Tay River subwatersheds). The forest legacy, in terms of the many types of wildlife species found, overall species richness, ecological functions provided and ecosystem complexity is still evident in the patches and regional forest matrices (found in the Jock River subwatershed and elsewhere in the Rideau Valley watershed). These ecological features are in addition to other influences which forests have on water quality and stream hydrology including reducing soil erosion, producing oxygen, storing carbon along with many other ecological services that are essential not only for wildlife but for human well-being.
The Guideline also notes that forests provide a great many habitat niches that are in turn occupied by a great diversity of plant and animal species. They provide food, water and shelter for these species - whether they are breeding and resident locally or using forest cover to help them move across the landscape. This diversity of species includes many that are considered to be species at risk. Furthermore, from a wildlife perspective, there is increasing evidence that the total forest cover in a given area is a major predictor of the persistence and size of bird populations, and it is possible or perhaps likely that this pattern extends to other flora and fauna groups. The overall effect of a decrease in forest cover on birds in fragmented landscapes is that certain species disappear and many of the remaining ones become rare, or fail to reproduce, while species adapted to more open and successional habitats, as well as those that are more tolerant to human-induced disturbances in general, are able to persist and in some cases thrive. Species with specialized-habitat requirements are most likely to be adversely affected. The overall pattern of distribution of forest cover, the shape, area and juxtaposition of remaining forest patches and the quality of forest cover also play major roles in determining how valuable forests will be to wildlife and people alike.
The current science generally supports minimum forest habitat requirements between 30 and 50 percent, with some limited evidence that the upper limit may be even higher, depending on the organism/species phenomenon under investigation or land-use/resource management planning regime being considered/used.
As shown in Figure 64, 17 percent of the Richmond catchment contains 505 hectares of upland forest and 46 hectares of lowland forest (treed swamps) versus the 26 percent of woodland cover in the Jock River subwatershed. This is less than the 30 percent of forest cover that is identified as the minimum threshold required to sustain forest birds according to the Guideline and which may only support less than one half of potential species richness and marginally healthy aquatic systems. When forest cover drops below 30 percent, forest birds tend to disappear as breeders across the landscape.
Figure 64 Woodland cover and forest interior (2014)
4.2.1 Woodland (Patch) Size
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Natural Heritage Reference Manual (Second Edition), larger woodlands are more likely to contain a greater diversity of plant and animal species and communities than smaller woodlands and have a greater relative importance for mobile animal species such as forest birds.
Bigger forests often provide a different type of habitat. Many forest birds breed far more successfully in larger forests than they do in smaller woodlots and some rely heavily on forest interior conditions. Populations are often healthier in regions with more forest cover and where forest fragments are grouped closely together or connected by corridors of natural habitat. Small forests support small numbers of wildlife. Some species are “area-sensitive” and tend not to inhabit small woodlands, regardless of forest interior conditions. Fragmented habitat also isolates local populations, especially small mammals, amphibians and reptiles with limited mobility. This reduces the healthy mixing of genetic traits that helps populations survive over the long run (Conserving the Forest Interior. Ontario Extension Notes, 2000).
The Environment Canada Guideline also notes that for forest plants that do not disperse broadly or quickly, preservation of some relatively undisturbed large forest patches is needed to sustain them because of their restricted dispersal abilities and specialized habitat requirements and to ensure continued seed or propagation sources for restored or regenerating areas nearby.
The Natural Heritage Reference Manual continues by stating that a larger size also allows woodlands to support more resilient nutrient cycles and food webs and to be big enough to permit different and important successional stages to co-exist. Small, isolated woodlands are more susceptible to the effects of blowdown, drought, disease, insect infestations, and invasions by predators and non-indigenous plants. It is also known that the viability of woodland wildlife depends not only on the characteristics of the woodland in which they reside, but also on the characteristics of the surrounding landscape where the woodland is situated. Additionally, the percentage of forest cover in the surrounding landscape, the presence of ecological barriers such as roads, the ability of various species to cross the matrix surrounding the woodland and the proximity of adjacent habitats interact with woodland size in influencing the species assemblage within a woodland.
In the Richmond catchment (in 2014), sixty-four (54 percent) of the 119 woodland patches are very small, being less than one hectare in size. Another 50 (42 percent) of the woodland patches ranging from one to less than 20 hectares in size tend to be dominated by edge-tolerant bird species. The remaining five (four percent of) woodland patches range between 22 and 86 hectares in size. and may support a few area-sensitive species and some edge intolerant species, but will be dominated by edge tolerant species. No patch exceeds the 100 plus hectare size needed to support most forest dependent, area sensitive birds and which are large enough to support approximately 60 percent of edge-intolerant species. No patch tops 200 hectares, which according to the Environment Canada Guideline will support 80 percent of edge-intolerant forest bird species (including most area sensitive species) that prefer interior forest habitat conditions.
Table 10 presents a comparison of woodland patch size in 2008 and 2014 along with any changes that have occurred over that time. A decrease (of 78 ha) has been observed in the overall woodland patch area between the two reporting periods with most change occurring in the 50 to 100 hectare woodland patch size class range.
Woodland patches in the Richmond catchment (2008 and 2014)
|Woodland Patch Size Range (ha) ||Woodland* Patches||Patch Change|
|2008||2014||2008 to 2014|
|Number ||Area ||Number ||Area ||Number ||Area |
|Count ||Percent || Ha ||Percent ||Count ||Percent || Ha ||Percent ||Count ||Ha |
|Less than 1 ||63||53||24||4||64||54||23||54||1||-1|
|1 to 20 ||50||42||244||41||50||42||254||42||0||10|
|20 to 50 ||2||2||43||7||2||2||61||2||0||-18|
|50 to 100 ||4||3||282||48||3||2||213||2||-1||-69|
*Includes treed swamps
4.2.2 Woodland (Forest) Interior Habitat
The forest interior is habitat deep within woodlands. It is a sheltered, secluded environment away from the influence of forest edges and open habitats. Some people call it the “core” or the “heart” of a woodland. The presence of forest interior is a good sign of woodland health, and is directly related to the woodland’s size and shape. Large woodlands with round or square outlines have the greatest amount of forest interior. Small, narrow woodlands may have no forest interior conditions at all. Forest interior habitat is a remnant natural environment, reminiscent of the extensive, continuous forests of the past. This increasingly rare forest habitat is now a refuge for certain forest-dependent wildlife; they simply must have it to survive and thrive in a fragmented forest landscape (Conserving the Forest Interior. Ontario Extension Notes, 2000).
The Natural Heritage Reference Manual states that woodland interior habitat is usually defined as habitat more than 100 metres from the edge of the woodland and provides for relative seclusion from outside influences along with a moister, more sheltered and productive forest habitat for certain area sensitive species. Woodlands with interior habitat have centres that are more clearly buffered against the edge effects of agricultural activities or more harmful urban activities than those without.
In the Richmond catchment (in 2014), the 119 woodland patches contain 15 forest interior patches (Figure 64) that occupy two percent (55 ha.) of the catchment land area (which is less than the three percent of interior forest in the Jock River Subwatershed). This is below the ten percent figure referred to in the Environment Canada Guideline that is considered to be the minimum threshold for supporting edge intolerant bird species and other forest dwelling species in the landscape.
Most patches (13) have less than 10 hectares of interior forest, nine of which have small areas of interior forest habitat less than one hectare in size. The remaining two patches contain 18 and 23 hectares of interior forest. Between 2008 and 2014, there has been a change in the number of woodland patches containing smaller areas of interior habitat with an overall loss of seven hectares in the catchment (Table11), suggesting an increase in forest fragmentation over the six year period.
Woodland interior in the Richmond catchment (2008 and 2014)
|Woodland Interior Habitat Size Range (ha)||Woodland Interior||Interior Change|
|2008||2014||2008 to 2014|
|Less than 1 ||4||36||1||2||9||60||4||7||5||3|
|1 to 10||5||45||17||27||4||27||10||18||-1||-7|
|10 to 30||2||18||44||71||2||13||41||75||0||-3|
4.3 Wetland Cover
Wetlands are habitats forming the interface between aquatic and terrestrial systems. They are among the most productive and biologically diverse habitats on the planet. By the 1980s, according to the Natural Heritage Reference Manual, 68 percent of the original wetlands south of the Precambrian Shield in Ontario had been lost through encroachment, land clearance, drainage and filling.
Wetlands perform a number of important ecological and hydrological functions and provide an array of social and economic benefits that society values. Maintaining wetland cover in a watershed provides many ecological, economic, hydrological and social benefits that are listed in the Reference Manual and which may include:
- contributing to the stabilization of shorelines and to the reduction of erosion damage through the mitigation of water flow and soil binding by plant roots
- mitigating surface water flow by storing water during periods of peak flow (such as spring snowmelt and heavy rainfall events) and releasing water during periods of low flow (this mitigation of water flow also contributes to a reduction of flood damage)
- contributing to an improved water quality through the trapping of sediments, the removal and/or retention of excess nutrients, the immobilization and/or degradation of contaminants and the removal of bacteria
- providing renewable harvesting of timber, fuel wood, fish, wildlife and wild rice
- contributing to a stable, long-term water supply in areas of groundwater recharge and discharge
- providing a high diversity of habitats that support a wide variety of plants and animals
- acting as “carbon sinks” making a significant contribution to carbon storage
- providing opportunities for recreation, education, research and tourism
Historically, the overall wetland coverage within the Great Lakes basin exceeded 10 percent, but there was significant variability among watersheds and jurisdictions, as stated in the Environment Canada Guideline. In the Rideau Valley Watershed, it has been estimated that pre-settlement wetland cover averaged 35 percent using information provided by Ducks Unlimited Canada (2010) versus the 21 percent of wetland cover existing in 2014 derived from DRAPE imagery analysis.
Using the same dataset, it is estimated that pre-settlement (historic) wetland cover averaged 51 percent in the Jock River subwatershed versus the 24 percent of cover existing in 2014 (as summarized in Table 12).
Wetland cover in the Jock River subwatershed and Richmond catchment (Historic to 2014)
|Wetland Cover ||Pre-settlement||2008||2014||Change - Historic to 2014|
|Area ||Area ||Area ||Area |
|Ha ||Percent ||Ha ||Percent ||Ha ||Percent ||Ha ||Percent |
This decline in wetland cover is also evident in the Richmond catchment (as seen in Figure 65) where wetland was reported to cover 59 percent of the area prior to settlement, as compared to 15 percent in 2014. This represents a 74 percent loss of historic wetland cover and what remains (in 2014) falls below the 40 percent historic wetland threshold cited in the Environment Canada Guideline for maintaining key ecological and hydrological functions. To maintain critical hydrological, ecological functions along with related recreational and economic benefits provided by these wetland habitats in the catchment, the Guideline recommends a “no net loss” approach for currently existing wetlands combined with efforts to work towards restoring upwards of 40 percent of the historic wetland coverage, where feasible.
Figure 65 Richmond catchment wetland cover
4.4 Shoreline Cover
The riparian or shoreline zone is that special area where the land meets the water. Well-vegetated shorelines are critically important in protecting water quality and creating healthy aquatic habitats, lakes and rivers. Natural shorelines intercept sediments and contaminants that could impact water quality conditions and harm fish habitat in streams. Well established buffers protect the banks against erosion, improve habitat for fish by shading and cooling the water and provide protection for birds and other wildlife that feed and rear young near water. A recommended target (from the Environment Canada Guideline) is to maintain a minimum 30 metre wide vegetated buffer along at least 75 percent of the length of both sides of rivers, creeks and streams.
Figure 66 shows the extent of the ‘Natural’ vegetated riparian zone (predominantly wetland/woodland features) and ‘Other’ anthropogenic cover (crop/pastureland, roads/railways, settlements) along a 30-metre-wide area of land, both sides of the shoreline of the Jock River and its tributaries in the Richmond catchment.
Figure 66 Natural and other riparian land cover in the Richmond catchment
This analysis shows that the riparian zone in the Richmond catchment in 2014 was comprised of crop and pastureland (39 percent), wetland (20 percent), woodland (20 percent), settlement (nine percent), transportation (seven percent) and meadow-thicket (five percent). Additional statistics for the Richmond catchment are presented in Table 13 and show that there has been very little change in shoreline cover from 2008 to 2014.
Riparian land cover (2008 vs. 2014) in the Richmond catchment
|Riparian Land Cover||2008||2014||Change - 2008 to 2014|
|Crop & Pasture||137||38||140||39||3||1|
5.0 Jock River-Richmond Catchment: Stewardship and Water Resources Protection
The RVCA and its partners are working to protect and enhance environmental conditions in the Jock River Subwatershed. Figure 67 shows the location of all stewardship projects completed in the Jock River-Richmond catchment along with sites identified for potential shoreline restoration.
5.1 Rural Clean Water Projects
From 2010 to 2015, one well decommissioning, one well upgrade, one septic system replacement and one milkhouse wastewater treatment facility were completed. Between 2004 and 2009, 16 well upgrades, one septic system replacement, one precision farming and one manure storage/wastewater runoff project were finished and prior to 2004, two septic system replacement and two precision farming projects were completed. Two of these projects were completed within the 30 metre riparian zone of the Jock River. Total value of all 27 projects is $327,897 with $36,814 of that amount funded through grant dollars from the RVCA.
Figure 67 Stewardship site locations
5.2 Private Land Forestry Projects
The location of RVCA tree planting projects is shown in Figure 67. From 2010 to 2015, 5,007 trees were planted at one site. Between 2004 and 2009, 7,300 trees were planted at four sites and prior to 2004, 58,900 trees were planted at nine sites, In total, 71,207 trees were planted resulting in the reforestation of 36 hectares. One of these projects was completed within the 30 metre riparian zone of the Jock River. Total project value of all 14 projects is $224,332 with $60,895 of that amount coming from fundraising sources.
Through the RVCA Butternut Recovery Program, an additional 50 butternut trees were planted in the Richmond catchment (Figure 67) between 2004 and 2015, as part of efforts to introduce healthy seedlings from tolerant butternuts into various locations across Eastern Ontario.
5.3 Shoreline Naturalization Projects
With the assistance of the RVCA’s Shoreline Naturalization Program, 1954 trees and shrubs were planted to create an overall 1,372 metre long shoreline buffer at a total project value of $22,818.
5.4 Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship Projects
Figure 67 shows the location of all Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship Program (ODWSP) projects in the Jock River-Richmond catchment. From 2010 to 2015, 11 well upgrades, three septic decommissionings, three sewer line connections, two fuel handling and storage facilities, one well decommissioning and one septic system repair/replacement were completed. Between 2004 and 2009, 6 well upgrades were carried out. Total value of all 27 projects is $73,144 with $45,934 of that amount funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
5.5 Wetland Restoration Project
The RVCA in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Shell Fuelling Change, Muskies Canada Ottawa Chapter, National Defence Fish and Game Club, Community Foundation of Ottawa, Fendock and the Ottawa Flyfishers Society constructed a fish habitat embayment at the Richmond Conservation Area in October 2014. The project involved converting an existing grassed park area into a small wetland embayment along the shoreline of the Jock River and created 1000 square metres of new spawning, nursery, rearing, and feeding habitat to support the 40 species of fish that reside in the Jock River. It also resulted in approximately 100 metres of new shoreline being created by re-grading the existing slope and planting a shoreline buffer around the perimeter of the new embayment feature. Many volunteers participated in the construction of the embayment and contributed 294 volunteer hours towards the project. Post monitoring results have shown that the feature is meeting its objectives by providing enhanced fish habitat and amphibian breeding habitat.
Jock River Wetland Embayment summer condition
Jock River Wetland Embayment winter condition
5.6 Valley, Stream, Wetland and Hazard Lands
The Richmond catchment covers 31 square kilometres with 9.1 square kilometres (or 29 percent) of the drainage area being within the regulation limit of Ontario Regulation 174/06 (Figure 68), giving protection to wetland areas and river or stream valleys that are affected by flooding and erosion hazards.
Wetlands occupy 4.8 sq. km. (or 15 percent) of the catchment. Of these wetlands, 2.9 sq. km (or 60 percent) are designated as provincially significant and included within the RVCA regulation limit. This leaves the remaining 1.9 sq. km (or 40 percent) of wetlands in the catchment outside the regulated area limit.
Of the 60.4 kilometres of stream in the catchment, regulation limit mapping has been plotted along 32.1 kilometers of streams (representing 53 percent of all streams in the catchment). Some of these regulated watercourses (6.1 km or 10 percent of all streams) flow through regulated wetlands; the remaining 26.0 km (or 81 percent) of regulated streams are located outside of those wetlands. Plotting of the regulation limit on the remaining 28.3 km (or 47 percent) of streams
Within those areas of the Richmond catchment subject to the regulation (limit), efforts (have been made and) continue through RVCA planning and regulations input and review to manage the impact of development (and other land management practices) in areas where “natural hazards” are associated with rivers, streams, valley lands and wetlands. For areas beyond the regulation limit, protection of the catchment’s watercourses is only provided through the “alteration to waterways” provision of the regulation.
Within those areas of the Richmond catchment subject to the RVCA regulation (limit), efforts (have been made and) continue through RVCA planning and regulations input and review to manage the impact of development (and other land management practices) in areas where “natural hazards” are associated with rivers, streams, valley lands and wetlands. Additionally, in the urbanizing areas of the Richmond catchment, significant effort is made through land use planning and development control processes and carefully planned stormwater management systems, initially guided by master drainage planning and integrated subwatershed planning, to meet the natural heritage and natural hazards policies presented in the City of Ottawa Official Plan. Also, within areas beyond the regulation limit, protection of the catchment’s watercourses is provided through the “alteration to waterways” provision of the regulation.
Figure 68 RVCA regulation limits
5.7 Vulnerable Drinking Water Areas
The Wellhead Protection Area around the Richmond (King’s Park) drinking water source is located within the Jock River-Richmond drainage catchment. This area is subject to mandatory policies in the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Plan developed under the Clean Water Act. These policies specifically regulate land uses and activities that are considered drinking water threats, thereby reducing the risk of contamination of the municipal drinking water source.
The Jock River-Richmond drainage catchment is also considered to have a Highly Vulnerable Aquifer. This means that the nature of the overburden (thin soils, fractured bedrock) does not provide a high level of protection for the underlying groundwater making the aquifer more vulnerable to contaminants released on the surface. The Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Plan includes policies that focus on the protection of groundwater region-wide due to the fact that most of the region, which encompasses the Mississippi and Rideau watersheds, is considered Highly Vulnerable Aquifer.
For detailed maps and policies that have been developed to protect drinking water sources, please go to the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Region website at www.mrsourcewater.ca to view the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Plan.
6.0 Jock River-Richmond Catchment: Challenges/Issues
Surface chemistry water quality in the Jock River within the Jock River-Richmond catchment is “Fair” over two reporting periods (2004-2009 and 2010-2015). The score at this site reflects few exceedances across measured parameters with occasional instances of elevated nutrients and bacterial counts
Instream biological water quality conditions at the Jock River Richmond sample location range from “ Poor” to “Fair” from 2004 to 2015 (using a grading scheme developed by Ontario Conservation Authorities in Ontario for benthic invertebrates) with an overall benthic invertebrate water quality rating of “Fairly Poor” determined for this period
Effect of the Richmond sewage lagoons on Jock River surface water quality conditions needs to be understood
Effect of climate change on the hydrologic function (water budget) of the Jock River subwatershed and associated natural hazards (flood risk) posed to the built/urban areas of the Village of Richmond are not understood, including the flood risk associated with proposed subdivision development on the west side of Richmond that remains unresolved
Existing hydrological and geochemical datasets and assessments (academic, RVCA, others) are only recently available and/or are not being considered in the characterization of the numerous hydrologic functions of the Jock River subwatershed. Further, there is a dearth of hydrologic information (hydroperiod, groundwater/surface water interactions, geochemistry) about the wetlands that remain in the Jock River subwatershed
‘Natural’ vegetation covers 45 percent of the riparian zone of the Jock River and its tributaries (Figure 66) and is below the recommended 30 metre wide, naturally vegetated target along 75 percent of the length of the catchment’s watercourses
Richmond weir is a seasonal impediment to fish movement along the Jock River and can fragment/ isolate fish populations
Woodlands cover 17 percent of the catchment and is less than the 30 percent of forest cover that is identified as the minimum threshold for sustaining forest birds and other woodland dependent species (Figure 64)
Pre-settlement wetlands have declined by 74 percent and now cover 15 percent (476 ha.) of the catchment (Figure 65). Forty percent (191 ha.) of these wetlands remain unevaluated/unregulated and are vulnerable to drainage and land clearing activities in the absence of any regulatory and planning controls that would otherwise protect them for the many important hydrological, social, biological and ecological functions/services/values they provide to landowners and the surrounding community
7.0 Jock River-Richmond Catchment: Opportunities/Actions
Reduce total phosphorus and E. coli levels via non-point and point source pollution control both in rural areas as well as the developed portion of Richmond
Consider the incorporation of low impact development features within Richmond to assist in storm water management
Private landowners should consider taking advantage of The Rural Clean Water Programs which offer grants to landowners interested in implementing projects on their property that will help to protect and improve water quality.
- Homeowners may be interested in projects to repair, replace or upgrade their well or septic system, or addressing erosion through buffer plantings and erosion control
- Farmers can take advantage of a wide range of projects, including livestock fencing, manure storage, tile drainage control structures, cover crops, and many more
Consider a second monitoring site in the downstream portion of the catchment (where Eagleson Road crosses the Jock River) to capture any surface water quality impacts from the Village of Richmond as well as any potential impact of emergency overflow from the former Richmond sewage lagoon
Continue to coordinate environmental monitoring and reporting activities with the City of Ottawa
Use wetland restoration as a tool to improve surface water quality and help restore the hydrologic integrity of the Jock River and its tributaries
List, share and when possible, synthesize and use existing hydrological and geochemical datasets and assessment outcomes to facilitate the characterization of subwatershed and catchment hydrological functions. In addition, prepare guidance on best practices for the preparation of water budget assessments to better understand the hydrologic cycle requirements that occur at site specific scales; and share existing catchment and subwatershed scale water budget assessment outcomes
Promote the Rideau Valley Shoreline Naturalization Program to landowners to increase existing 45 percent of natural shoreline cover
Educate landowners about the value of and best management practices used to maintain and enhance natural shorelines and headwater drainage features
Work with the City of Ottawa to consistently implement current land use planning and development policies for water quality and shoreline protection (i.e., adherence to a minimum 30 metre development setback from water) adjacent to the Jock River and other catchment streams
Target shoreline restoration at sites identified in this report (shown as “Other riparian land cover” in Figure 66 and “Potential Riparian/Instream Restoration” in Figures 53/54) and explore other restoration and enhancement opportunities along the Jock River and its tributaries
Promote the City of Ottawa’s Green Acres Reforestation Program to landowners to increase existing 17 percent of woodland cover
Encourage the City of Ottawa to strengthen natural heritage and water resources policies in official plans and zoning by-laws where shoreline, wetland, woodland cover and watercourse setbacks are determined to be at or below critical ecological thresholds. Information for this purpose is provided in the RVCA’s subwatershed and catchment reports
Explore ways and means to more effectively enforce and implement conditions of land-use planning and development approvals to achieve net environmental gains
Re-consider the RVCA’s approach to wetland regulation where there is an identified hydrologic imperative to do so (i.e., significant loss of historic wetland cover (see Figure 65) and/or seasonal, critically low baseflows in the Jock River and/or areas of seasonal flooding)
Full Catchment Report