6.0 Otty Lake Catchment: Accomplishments
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 and actions to be taken to maintain and improve the long-term health of the lake. The following list includes some of the accomplishments of the Otty Lake Association and residents that have implications for the well-being of the land and water resources of the lake ecosystem. Specific achievements of the Otty Lake community are indicated by an asterisk.
Otty Lake and Catchment Health
The 1:100 year flood elevation is available for Otty Lake and can be utilized as an additional factor to be considered when assessing site specific development setbacks.
Mandatory septic re-inspection programs for shoreline properties on Otty Lake were introduced by the Townships of Tay Valley in 2012 and Drummond/North Elmsley in 2013. This action was supported by the Otty Lake Association (OLA). A properly functioning septic system is important to reduce bacteria and nutrient inputs to the lake.*
357 mandatory and voluntary septic system re-inspections have been conducted by the Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office on 257 properties around McLaren, Mud and Otty Lake, as a service provided to Drummond/North Elmsley and Tay Valley Townships since 2004.
Shoreline Assessment Report
In 2013, an assessment of the Otty Lake shoreline was carried out under the Love Your Lake Program. Out of the 482 properties assessed, 74 (15 percent) were classified as majority natural, 172 (36 percent) as majority ornamental and 236 (49 percent) as majority regenerative. It is recognised that ornamental or degraded waterfronts will contribute additional nutrients and sediments to a waterbody such as Otty Lake.
Love Your Lake shoreline assessment reports were provided to all property owners regarding the state of their waterfront. These individual reports are confidential and provide recommendations for reducing the impact on lake water quality. An overall assessment of lake shorelines was also made available and an improvement in the naturalization of shorelines was noted in a comparison with a previous survey done in 2005.*
In 2009 the OLA introduced a program of offering shoreline plants to Otty Lake residents at subsidized cost with assistance from the RVCA. The choice of plants and the number and size of plants on offer has varied from year-to-year. As of 2017, 1,825 shrubs and trees and 295 native wildflowers have been distributed to lake residents.*
2,506 native trees and shrubs have been planted at 21 project sites along 407 metres of shoreline with services provided by the RVCA Shoreline Naturalization Program.
11,550 trees have been planted at three sites in the Otty Lake catchment by the RVCA Private Land Forestry Program, resulting in the reforestation of seven hectares.
Volunteers from the Otty Lake Association (OLA) conduct an ongoing E.coli sampling program taking 50 or more samples annually at locations around the lake. Results are generally very good, well within the provincial standard for swimming. These OLA volunteers also participate in the MOECC Lake Partner Program sampling for Total Phosphorus and measuring Secchi depths. Additional sampling for phosphorus and nitrogen is done by OLA volunteers to supplement the RVCA and the Lake Partner Program. The OLA Lake Steward maintains a water quality database that is made available to the RVCA.*
McLaren Lake and Otty Lake are each sampled yearly by the RVCA for five parameters, four times a year along with one stream site on Jebbs Creek being sampled yearly for 22 parameters, six times a year to assess surface chemistry water quality conditions.
One Ontario Benthic Biomonitoring Network site on Jebbs Creek is sampled yearly by the RVCA in the spring and fall of each year with three replicates, to assess instream biological water quality conditions.
21 Rural Clean Water projects were completed by the RVCA Rural Clean Water Program.
Zebra Mussel Monitoring
A program for monitoring Zebra Mussels on collection platforms deployed around Otty Lake was initiated by the OLA in 2014. The abundance of the mussels is cyclic and had declined by 2017.*
Otty Lake and Catchment Habitat
The OLA has produced calendars most years featuring the flora or fauna of the Otty Lake watershed. These calendars usually have a stewardship focus and help promote living in harmony with the natural aspects of the lake environment.*
Construction of Wood Duck Nesting and Bat Boxes
In 2015 and 2016 OLA volunteers, with the help of the RVCA, constructed bird and bat boxes. Seventeen wood duck boxes, 15 swallow/bluebird boxes and 26 bat boxes were assembled. These boxes were made available to lake residents and installed at various locations around the lake.*
Over a period of four years starting in 2013, a major fish habitat enhancement project was undertaken at Otty Lake. This work was led by the RVCA and the OLA with many community volunteers. Spawning beds for smallmouth bass were constructed during the first three years. Nests for both smallmouth and largemouth bass were constructed in 2016. Approximately 275 nests were constructed along with the deployment of underwater brush bundles. The occupancy of the nests during the spawning season increased to 55 % by 2016, a remarkable success rate.*
The report "Fish Habitat of the Tay River Watershed: Existing Conditions and Opportunities for Enhancement" was prepared in 2002 by MNR, RVCA, Parks Canada and DFO. A number of specific fish habitat enhancement projects are identified in the report to improve the fishery in Otty Lake and along Jebbs Creek (see pp.117-123).
3.9 kilometres of Jebbs Creek have been surveyed and 32 headwaters sites are sampled once every six years by the RVCA Stream Characterisation Program.
A loon mapping survey was initiated in April 2016 and is managed by an OLA volunteer. Loon observations noted by lake residents and cottagers are forwarded to the volunteer who incorporates the observations into a map. This map is updated on a regular basis and can be viewed on the OLA website. Annual observations of loons and their offspring on Otty Lake have been reported to Bird Studies Canada/Canadian Lake Loon Survey since 1991.*
Otty Lake Community Feedback
Bear Aware Workshop
In 2017 a black bear awareness workshop was organised by the OLA. A representative of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry was the speaker; over 40 people attended.*
State of the Lake Report
An annual State of the Lake Report was initiated by the OLA in 2014. This comprehensive report provides information regarding water quality, the lake fishery, wildlife habitat, shoreline planting initiatives, the amounts of zebra mussels and algae, among many other topics.*
Website, Newsletter and Summer Information Package
The OLA continues its long standing practice of communicating with lake residents through a newsletter published three times a year and an annual Information Package which is delivered to lake residents by an OLA Area Counsellor. The Otty Lake Association maintains an extensive website for lake residents.*
Otty Lake Association Leadership
In 2013 a five-year review of the Otty Lake Management Plan was undertaken. Over 200 lake residents and cottagers participated in the associated survey. The results of this review were used to provide guidance to the OLA in developing activities and programs identified by members of the lake community.*
Liaison with Other Lake Associations
The OLA continues to liaise with other local lake associations through its participation in the Lake Networking Group.*
Management of Lake Activities
The OLA has an active 15 member board that meets four times a year. A team of Area Counsellors facilitates interaction between the Board and lake residents and cottagers. A well-attended AGM is held in July.*