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6. Challenges/Issues

Water Quality

  • Surface water quality in the Rideau River is “Fair” as determined by surface water chemistry data. Occasional exceedances of nutrients and metals contributed to the rating


  • The riparian buffer in the Rideau-Merrickville catchment (30 m. wide strip along the shoreline of the Rideau River and its tributaries) is comprised of wetland (43 percent), crop and pastureland (26 percent), woodland (22 percent), settlement areas (six percent) and roads (three percent) and (at 65 percent) is below the recommended target to maintain a minimum 30 metre wide, naturally vegetated buffer along at least 75 percent of the length of both sides of rivers, creeks and streams.
  • Emerald ash borer poses a significant threat to the ecology of the subwatershed, given the prominence of ash trees along shorelines and in riparian and wetland areas. Many tree stands are predominantly ash and with their anticipated loss, it is unclear what will replace them and the overall effect of their collective demise on the physical and natural functions/values they provide for erosion, water quality and fish and wildlife habitat protection

Land Cover

  • The catchment contains 981 ha of unevaluated wetland (occupying 8 percent of its total area) that provides many important social, hydrological, biological and ecological functions/services. Although not under imminent threat from development activity, they do remain vulnerable to drainage and land clearing activities in the absence of any regulatory and planning controls that would otherwise protect them


  • Some waterfront properties contain existing non-complying dwellings with respect to minimum water frontage and lot area and are often located within 30 metres of the water that require minor variances for expansion and/or reconstruction of dwellings where standard development setbacks from water are difficult to achieve. In these cases, Township staff and the Conservation Authority can meet with resistance and push back when attempts are made to implement standards for development setbacks, vegetated shorelines and septic systems

Natural Hazards

  • Floodplain mapping for the Middle Rideau is over 35 years out of date for that reach of the Rideau River extending from Smiths Falls to Burritts Rapids