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6. Challenges/Issues

Water Quality

Otter Lake

  • Otter Lake has a “Fair”’ surface chemistry water quality rating for the 2003 to 2008 and 2009 to 2014 periods and is generally characterized by moderate nutrient concentrations
  • Forty-three (of 66) Rideau Lakes Township septic system voluntary re-inspections conducted from 2007 to 2015 revealed the need for additional maintenance/remedial/replacement works to be performed on septic systems around Otter Lake. Those properties with concerns are identified in the yearly report submitted by the Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office to the Township
  • RVCA’s 2013 Algae and Aquatic Plant Survey for Eastern Ontario Lakes and Rivers notes that three of five respondents from Otter Lake have noticed an increase in algae blooms on their lake

Otter Creek

  • Otter Creek has a "Fair" surface chemistry water quality rating for the 2003 to 2008 and 2009 to 2014 periods. Frequent exceedances of total phosphorous, total Kjeldhal nitrogen and E.coli and occasional exceedances of ammonia, aluminum and iron have contributed to the Creek’s overall rating
  • Otter Creek has a “Poor” benthic invertebrate (biological) water quality rating from 2003 to 2014


  • Most development in the catchment is occurring on waterfront properties through the transformation of traditional cottage development into larger year-round dwellings. This transition is taking place either through re-development of an existing cottage lot or incremental alterations (additions, sleeping cabins, gazebos, decks, sheds, boat houses, garages, lawns, docks)
  • Many 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, of which there are many, staff at Rideau Lakes Township and the Conservation Authority often meet with resistance and push back when attempts are made to implement standards for development setbacks, vegetated shorelines and septic systems
  • Monitoring implementation of conditions of planning and regulatory approvals is challenging due to a lack of resources


  • Around Otter Lake in 2014, the 30 metre wide shoreline buffer contains (55 percent) non-natural land cover (comprised of waterfront cottages, houses, camps and roads) and 45 percent natural land cover (made up of wetland and woodland), which is below the recommended 75 percent naturally vegetated riparian, shoreline buffer target. Otter Lake has experienced a six percent increase in the area of settlement along its shoreline over a six year period
  • 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 469 ha of unevaluated wetland (occupying five 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

Water Levels

  • Management of water levels on Otter Lake continues to be a source of concern for waterfront property owners; particularly, flooding in the spring and late fall and the lack of adequate drainage at its outlet to Otter Creek

Aquatic Habitat/Fisheries

  • ​Littoral zone mapping identifying substrate type, vegetation and habitat features along with opportunities for shoreline enhancements is unavailable for Otter Lake