1.0 Elbow Lake Catchment: Facts
1.1 General/Physical Geography
57 square kilometres; occupies seven percent of the Tay River subwatershed; one percent of the Rideau Valley watershed.
Elbow Lake catchment resides within part of the physiographic region known as the Algonquin Highlands. In the Tay River subwatershed, this ancient and hilly geologic region is made up of such Precambrian rocks as marble, conglomerates, and dark or colour banded granite-like rocks. A veneer of glacial drift (glacial till, sand etc.) overlies the bedrock and a geologic fault may run north-south through the eastern section of the catchment.
Central Frontenac Township: (55 km2; 97% of catchment)
South Frontenac Township: (2 km2; 3% of catchment)
All tributaries (including headwater streams): 160 km
1.2 Vulnerable Areas
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 Elbow Lake catchment.
1.3 Conditions at a Glance
Two aggregate licenses in the catchment.
Fish Community/Thermal Regime
Warm and cool water recreational and baitfish fishery with 10 species observed in Fish Creek during 2016.
Headwater Drainage Features
Predominantly natural and wetland features with the majority of them having no anthropogenic modifications. Four features had mixed modifications while two features have been straightened, historically.
Fish Creek: Low to high habitat complexity with increased habitat complexity observed in the lower and middle reaches of the system within the catchment. Dissolved oxygen conditions on Fish Creek are variable along the system with sections in the middle reach below the guideline to support warmwater biota; however, sections in the upper and lower reaches are acceptable for warmwater species.
Land Cover Change (2008 to 2014)
Land Cover Type (2014)
Shoreline Cover Type (30 m. riparian area; 2014)
|Catchment||Percent||Elbow Lake||Percent||Fish Creek||Percent||Streams*||Percent|
Significant Natural Features
Fish Creek Non-Provincially Significant Wetland
Species at Risk (Elemental Occurrence)
|Status||Species at Risk|
|Threatened||Blanding's Turtle||Bobolink||Cerulean Warbler||Eastern Meadowlark||Eastern Whip-poor-will|
|Special Concern||Common Five-lined Skink||Louisiana Waterthrush||Snapping Turtle||---||---|
Water Quality for the Protection of Aquatic Life (2006 to 2017)
|Water Quality Source||Elbow Lake||Fish Creek|
|Surface Chemistry||Very Poor to Poor||Fair|
|Instream Biological||---||Poor to Good|
Fish Creek: Benthic invertebrate samples are sensitive during certain years and change to species that are more tolerant of high organic pollution levels during other years.
Approximately 200 operational private water wells in the Elbow Lake catchment. Groundwater uses are mainly domestic but also include livestock, public and commercial water supplies and monitoring wells.
1.4 Catchment Care
The Elbow Lake (Parham) Association prepared the Elbow Lake Stewardship Plan (2012) to provide a summary of what is currently known about the Elbow Lake catchment along with the community’s vision for the lake and a list of its main concerns and actions to address them.
Development in, and adjacent to, the Fish Creek Non-Provincially Significant Wetland in the catchment is subject to Ontario Regulation 174-06 (entitled “Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses”), which protects the hydrologic function of the wetland and also protects landowners and their property from natural hazards (flooding, fluctuating water table, unstable soils) associated with it.
One Environmental Compliance Approval was sought for a municipal waste disposal site in the catchment.
Chemical surface (in-stream) water quality collection by the RVCA since 2003 (see Section 2).
Benthic invertebrate (aquatic insect) surface (in-stream) water quality collection by the RVCA since 2003 (see Section 3.3.1).
Fish survey and stream characterization survey by the RVCA on Fish Creek in 2016 included taking measurements and recording observations on instream habitat, bank stability, other attributes and preparing a temperature profile (see Section 3).
Elbow Lake shoreline assessed as majority ornamental (28 properties; 39 percent); majority natural (23 properties; 32 percent) and majority regenerative (21 properties; 29 percent) by the Watersheds Canada Love Your Lake Program.
Twenty-seven headwater drainage feature assessments were conducted in 2016 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).
Classification of Elbow Lake catchment land cover types derived by the RVCA from colour aerial photography that was acquired during the spring of 2008 and 2014 (see Section 4.1). (see Section 4.1).
Groundwater chemistry information is available from the Ontario Geological Survey for two wells (#13-AG-031 and #13-AG-042) located in the catchment.
Seven stewardship projects were completed by landowners with assistance from the RVCA (see Section 5).