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5. Stewardship and Protection

The RVCA and its partners are working to protect and enhance environmental conditions in the Middle Rideau Subwatershed. Figure 81 shows the location of all stewardship projects completed in the Otter Lake and Creek catchment along with sites identified for potential shoreline restoration.

Rural Clean Water Projects

From 2009 to 2014, six septic system replacements and one erosion control project were completed. Between 2003 and 2008, 10 well upgrades, four septic system replacements, one well decommissioning, one erosion control project and one education initiative were carried out along with construction of one fuel storage and handling facility. Prior to 2003, two livestock fencing projects and one septic system replacement were completed. Total value of all 28 projects is $215,494 with $96,685 of that amount funded through grant dollars from the RVCA.

Figure 81 Stewardship and restoration locations

Tree Planting Projects

The location of RVCA Tree Planting Program projects is shown in Figure 81. From 2009 to 2014, 7,082 trees were planted at four sites. Between 2003 and 2008, 1,000 trees were planted at one site and prior to 2003, 12,750 trees were planted at three sites, resulting in the reforestation of 13 hectares. Total value of all eight projects is $62,019 with $22,285 of that amount coming from various fundraising sources.

Through the RVCA Butternut Recovery Program, an additional 110 butternut trees were planted in the Otter Lake and Creek catchment, as part of efforts to introduce healthy seedlings from tolerant butternuts into various locations across Eastern Ontario.

Septic System Re-Inspections

From 2007 to 2015, the Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office performed 66 septic system re-inspections (52 cottages and 14 houses) on Otter Lake in Rideau Lakes Township. Remedial/maintenance work (i.e. pump outs, baffle replacement, work that generally does not require a permit) was recommended for 41 (or 62 percent) of those properties that were inspected, septic system replacements at two properties with more information provided to two other landowners with identified septic system concerns. No specific concerns were noted for the other 21 septic systems that were inspected.

Valley, Stream, Wetland and Hazard Land Regulation

The Otter Lake and Creek catchment covers 89 square kilometres with 37 square kilometres (or 42 percent) of the drainage area being within the regulation limit of Ontario Regulation 174/06 (Fig. 82), giving protection to wetland areas and river or stream valleys that are affected by flooding and erosion hazards. 

Wetlands occupy 19.2 sq. km. (or 21 percent) of the catchment. Of these wetlands, 14.5 sq. km (or 76 percent) are designated as provincially significant and included within the RVCA regulation limit. This leaves the remaining 4.7 sq. km (or 24 percent) of wetlands in the catchment outside the regulated area limit.

Of the 137.4 kilometres of stream in the catchment, regulation limit mapping has been plotted along 95.8 kilometers of streams (representing 70 percent of all streams in the catchment). Some of these regulated watercourses (73.1 km or 53 percent of all streams) flow through regulated wetlands; the remaining 22.6 km (or 24 percent) of regulated streams are located outside of those wetlands. Plotting of the regulation limit on the remaining 41.6 km (or 30 percent) of streams requires identification of flood and erosion hazards and valley systems.

Within the regulation limit, “development” and “site alteration” require RVCA permission. The “alteration to waterways” provision of Ontario Regulation 174/06 applies to all watercourses.

Figure 82 RVCA regulation limits

Vulnerable Drinking Water Areas

The Otter Lake and Creek catchment area is 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.

The catchment area to the south and east of Otter Lake is also considered a Significant Groundwater Recharge Area. This means that there is a volume of water moving from the surface into the ground and groundwater serves either as a municipal drinking water source or supplies a lake or stream ecosystem. The Plan was not required to include policies to specifically address Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas.

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 to view the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Plan.