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7.0 Otty Lake Catchment: Challenges/Issues

Developed by the Otty Lake Association and its partners, the Otty Lake Management Plan (2008) and Five-year Review (2014) provide information on many aspects of the lake environment, as well as issues of concern identified by the lake community that could threaten the long-term health of the lake. The following list includes some of those identified issues that have implications for the water and land resources of the lake ecosystem. Specific issues noted by the lake community are indicated by an asterisk.


Waterfront property development is occurring primarily through the transformation of traditional, seasonal cottages 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, shoreline modifications, docks), all of which may put additional stress on the sensitive shoreline zone and the lake along with potential, added septic system loading.

Many waterfront properties contain existing non-conforming 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 Drummond/North Elmsley and Tay Valley Townships 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.

Headwaters/In-Water Habitat/Shorelines

Otty Lake has 62 percent of its shoreline composed of natural vegetation. This is below the 75 percent target that is recommended by experts for the protection of the catchment’s waterbodies and watercourses, 30 metres back from the shoreline of streams, rivers and lakes (see Section 4.4 of this report).

Otty Lake has seen a small increase in the area of settlement (0.28 ha.) along its shoreline between 2008 and 2014, due primarily to a loss of woodland.

Six of thirty-two sampled headwater sites in the catchment have been modified (three are channelized, three are roadside ditches)(see Section 3.4.2 of this report).

Littoral zone mapping identifying substrate type, vegetation and habitat features along with opportunities for shoreline enhancement is unavailable for Otty Lake.


Land Cover

Land cover has changed across the catchment (2008 to 2014) largely as a result of an increase in the area of settlement (11 ha.) and loss of woodland (7 ha.) and crop and pastureland (3 ha.)(see Section 4.1 of this report).

Wetlands have declined by thirty-one percent since European pre-settlement and now cover 21 percent (1112 ha.) of the catchment (in 2014). Eighty-six percent (953 ha.) of these wetlands remain unevaluated and unregulated and although they are 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 for the many important hydrological, social, biological and ecological functions/services/values they provide to landowners and the surrounding community (see Section 4.3 of this report).

Water Quality

Jebbs Creek surface chemistry water quality does not exhibit any sampling concerns (see Section 2.3 of this report).

McLaren Lake surface chemistry water quality rating ranges from Poor to Fair (see Section 2.2 of this report).

Otty Lake surface chemistry water quality rating ranges from Fair to Good (see Section 2.1 of this report).

Jebbs Creek instream biological water quality conditions range from Poor to Fair (see Section 3.3.1 of this report).

Twenty-five (of 348) Tay Valley Township mandatory septic system inspections conducted from 2004 to 2017 on Otty Lake revealed the need for remedial work on 18 systems and replacements for seven systems. More information was supplied to two other landowners with septic system issues. Those properties with concerns are identified in the yearly report submitted by the Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office to the Township.

One (of nine) Tay Valley Township voluntary septic system inspections conducted from 2004 to 2017 on McLaren and Mud Lake revealed the need for remedial work to be performed. Those properties with concerns are identified in the yearly report submitted by the Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office to the Township.