Tay River - Glen Tay

Tay River - Glen Tay

glen tay

Tay River Subwatershed Report 2017

GLEN TAY CATCHMENT

LandCoverTay-RiverTay-River---Glen-Tay-001-001Figure 1 Land cover in the Glen Tay catchment

The RVCA produces individual reports for 14 catchments in the Tay River subwatershed. Using data collected and analyzed by the RVCA through its watershed monitoring and land cover classification programs, surface water quality and in-stream conditions are reported for the Tay River, Tay Watershed lakes and Tay tributaries along with a summary of environmental conditions for the surrounding countryside every six years, which includes analysis of data collected through the programs along with local information provided by stakeholders up to 2017.

This information is used to better understand the effects of human activity on our water resources, allows us to better track environmental change over time and helps focus watershed management actions where they are needed the most to help sustain the ecosystem services (cultural, aesthetic and recreational values; provisioning of food, fuel and clean water; regulation of erosion/natural hazard protection and water purification; supporting nutrient/water cycling and habitat provision) provided by the catchment’s lands and forests and waters (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005).

The following sections of this report are a compilation of that work for the Glen Tay catchment.

Table of Contents: Glen Tay Catchment Report
Catchment Facts Section 1.0
Water Quality Conditions Section 2.0
Riparian Conditions Section 3.0
Land Cover Section 4.0
Stewardship and Water Resources Protection Section 5.0
Accomplishments Section 6.0
Challenges/Issues Section 7.0
Actions/Opportunities Section 8.0

For other Tay River catchments and the Tay River Subwatershed Report, please see Rideau Valley Conservation Authority Subwatershed Reports.

1.0 Glen Tay Catchment: Facts

Drainage Area

55.7 square kilometres; occupies 7.0 percent of the Tay River subwatershed; 1.3% percent of the Rideau Valley watershed.

Geology/Physiography

The Glen Tay 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 large area of younger sandstone is located in the northern section of the catchment. Bedrock is overlain by large expanses of glacial till and clay. A geologic fault may run across this catchment.

Municipal Coverage

Rideau Lakes Township (4.7 km2; 9.0% of catchment)

Tay Valley Township (50.8 km2; 91.0% of catchment)

Stream Length

All watercourses (including headwater streams): 137.5 km.

1.2 Vulnerable Areas

The Mississippi-Rideau Source Water Protection program has mapped part of the northern area of the catchment as a Significant Groundwater Recharge Area and all of the catchment as a Highly Vulnerable Aquifer. There are no Well-Head Protection Areas in the catchment.

Wetland Hydrology

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 Glen Tay catchment.

1.3 Conditions at a Glance

Fish Community/Thermal Regime

Warm and cool water recreational and baitfish fishery with 29 species observed in the Tay River and Scotts Snye during 2017.

Headwater Drainage Features

Classified as wetland and channelized features with historical modifications in the form of straightening.  

 

Instream/Riparian Habitat

Tay River:  Moderate to high habitat complexity was identified for the Tay River and the Scotts Snye. Regions with increased habitat complexity were observed throughout the reaches of the system within the catchment. Dissolved oxygen conditions for the Tay River and the Scotts Snye varied along the system for both warm and coolwater species. 

Land Cover Change (2008 to 2014)
Catchment Woodland Meadow-Thicket Transportation Crop-Pasture Settlement Wetland
Hectares -17 -1 1 +5 +5 +7
Land Cover Type (2014)
Catchment Woodland Crop-Pasture Wetland Settlement Meadow-Thicket Water Transportation
Percent 45 28 15 4 3 3 2
Shoreline Cover Type (30 m. riparian area; 2014)
Catchment Percent Tay River Percent Streams* Percent
Woodland 41 Wetland 72 Wetland 40
Wetland 37 Woodland 14 Woodland 36
Crop-Pasture 16 Crop-Pasture 6 Crop-Pasture 19
Settlement  2 Meadow-Thicket 4 Meadow-Thicket 2
Meadow-Thicket  2 Settlement 4 Transportation 2
Transportation  2 Transportation <1 Settlement 1
*Excludes the Tay River

Significant Natural Features

Grants Creek Provincially Significant Wetland

Species at Risk (Elemental Occurrence)
Status Species at Risk
Threatened    Bobolink Eastern Meadowlark ---
Special Concern Eastern Musk Turtle Eastern Ribbonsnake Snapping Turtle
 
Water Quality (Rating) for the Protection of Aquatic Life (2006 to 2017)
Tay River @ Noonan Side Rd. @ Glen Tay Rd. @ Bowes Side Rd.
Surface Chemistry Very Good Good ---
Instream Biological  --- --- Excellent
Scott-Snye @ Upper Scotch Line Rd.
Surface Chemistry Good

Tay River: Benthic invertebrate samples are dominated with species that are sensitive to high organic pollution levels.

Water Wells

Approximately 330 operational private water wells in the Glen Tay catchment. Groundwater uses are mainly domestic, but also include commercial and livestock water supplies.

Wetland Cover

Wetlands are reported to have covered 30 percent of the Glen Tay catchment prior to European settlement, as compared to 15 percent (or 8.4 square kilometres) of the area in 2014. This represents a 49 percent (or 8.0 square kilometre) loss of historic wetland cover. Less than one percent of the remaining wetlands are regulated leaving over 99 percent (or 8.4 square kilometers) unregulated. 

1.4 Catchment Care

Environmental Management

Development along the Tay River (Christie Lake to the Town of Perth) and in, and adjacent to, the Grants Creek Provincially Significant Wetland in the catchment is subject to Ontario Regulation 174-06 (entitled “Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses”) that protects landowners and their property from natural hazards (i.e., flooding, fluctuating water table, unstable soils) along with the hydrologic function of the wetland.

One Permit To Take Water (PTTW) is active in the catchment for industrial use .

Environmental Monitoring

Chemical surface (in-stream/lake) water quality collection by the RVCA since 2006 (see Section 2 of this report).

Benthic invertebrate (aquatic insect) surface (in-stream) water quality collection by the RVCA in the Tay River at the Noonan Side Road location since 2011 (see Section 3.3.1 of this report).

Fish survey and stream characterization survey by the RVCA on the Tay River in 2017 included taking measurements and recording observations on instream habitat, bank stability, other attributes and preparing a temperature profile (see Section 3 of this report).

Nineteen drainage feature assessments were conducted by the RVCA in 2017 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 of this report).

Classification of Glen Tay 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 of this report).

The Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office has conducted 58 voluntary septic system re-inspections on 59 properties along the Tay River from 2004 to 2017 (see Section 5.4 of this report).

Provincial groundwater level and chemistry, air pressure and precipitation data is available from a Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network site located near Glen Tay (W083).

Stewardship

Thirty-seven stewardship projects were completed by landowners with assistance from the RVCA (see Section 5 of this report).

2.0 Glen Tay Catchment: Water Quality Conditions

Surface water quality conditions in the Glen Tay catchment are monitored by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority (RVCA) Baseline Water Quality Monitoring Program.   The baseline water quality program focuses on streams; data is collected for 22 parameters including nutrients (total phosphorus and total Kjeldahl nitrogen), E. coli, metals (like aluminum and copper) and additional chemical/physical parameters (such as alkalinity, chlorides, pH and total suspended solids). Figure 2 shows the locations of monitoring sites in the catchment.

WaterQualityTay-RiverTay-River---Glen-Tay-001-001
Figure 2 Water quality monitoring sites on the Tay River in the Glen Tay Catchment  
 

2.1 Tay River: Water Quality Rating

There are three monitored water quality sites in the Glen Tay Catchment; two are on the Tay River (TAY-09 and TAY-05) and one site (SNY-03) is on a side channel of the main river known as Scotts Snye (Figure 2). The RVCA's water quality rating at the two Tay River sites was reported as "Good" and "Very Good" (Table 1), while the site on the Scotts-Snye reach was reported as "Good", as determined by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Water Quality Index.

"Good" indicates that only a minor degree of threat or impairment is observed and conditions rarely depart from natural or desirable levels. “Very Good" indicates water quality is protected with a virtual absence of threat or impairment; conditions are very close to natural or pristine levels. Each parameter is evaluated against established guidelines to determine water quality conditions. Those parameters that frequently exceed guidelines are presented below. Data has been analyzed over the 2006-2017 period for general trends and conditions. Table 1 shows the overall rating for the monitored surface water quality sites within the catchment and Table 2 outlines the Water Quality Index (WQI) scores and their corresponding ratings.

The scores at these sites are largely influenced by few high nutrient concentrations and bacterial counts. For more information on the CCME WQI, please see the Tay River Subwatershed Report.  For more information on the CCME WQI, please see the Tay River Subwatershed Report.  

Table 1 Water Quality Index ratings for the Glen Tay Catchment
SiteLocation 2006-20082009-20112012-20142015-2017
TAY-09Tay River at Adams PondGood (85)Good (94)Very Good (97)Very Good (100)
TAY-05Tay River at Glen TayGood (85)Good (87)Very Good (97)Good (91)
SNY-03Scotts Snye Upper Scotch LineGood (88)Good (87)Good (86)Good (87)
Table 2 Water Quality Index ratings and corresponding index scores (RVCA terminology, original WQI category names in brackets)
RatingIndex Score
Very Good (Excellent)95-100
Good80-94
Fair65-79
Poor (Marginal)45-64
Very Poor (Poor)0-44

 

2.1.1 Tay River Nutrients

Total phosphorus (TP) is used as a primary indicator of excessive nutrient loading and may contribute to abundant aquatic vegetation growth and depleted dissolved oxygen levels. The Provincial Water Quality Objective (PWQO) is used as the TP Guideline and states that in streams concentrations greater than 0.030 mg/l indicate an excessive amount of TP.

Total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) is used as secondary indicators of nutrient loading. RVCA uses a guideline of 0.500 mg/l to assess TKN[1]   .

Tables 3 and 4 summarize average nutrient concentrations at monitored sites within the Glen Tay catchment and show the proportion of results that meet the guidelines.

Table 3 Summary of total phosphorus results for the Glen Tay catchment, 2006-2017.
Total Phosphorus 2006-2017
SiteAverage (mg/l)Below GuidelineNo. Samples
TAY-090.01099%72
TAY-050.01597%72
SNY-030.01696%71
 
Table 4 Summary of total Kjeldahl nitrogen results for the Glen Tay catchment from 2006-2017. Highlighted values indicate average concentrations exceed the guideline
Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen 2006-2017
SiteAverage (mg/l)Below GuidelineNo. Samples
TAY-090.40096%72
TAY-050.43881%71
SNY-030.41386%71
 
Monitoring Site TAY-09

Site TAY-09 is the most upstream site on the main stem of the Tay River monitored in this catchment. Almost all (99 percent) samples at this site were below the TP guideline from 2006-2017 (Figures 3 and 4). The average TP concentration in the at this site was 0.010 mg/l (Table 3), the monthly average concentrations are fairly consistent with lower concentrations observed in the late summer and early fall (Figure 3). Overall a decrease was observed in TP concentrations over the 2006-2017 period[2]   .

TKN concentrations show that the bulk of results (96 percent) were also below the guideline (Figure 6, Table 4). The average concentration over the 2006-2017 period was 0.400 mg/l (Table 4); monthly averages are comparable across the sampling season with the lowest concentrations observed in April and November (Figure 5).  There was no significant trend found in TKN results at this site.

Monitoring Site TAY-05

Site TAY-05 is downstream of TAY-09 and the inflow from the Scotts-Snye side channel of the Tay River. TP results were low, the average concentrations was 0.015 and 97 percent of samples were below the guideline (Table 3, Figure 4).  Monthly TP concentrations followed a similar pattern to upstream site TAY-09, though were consistently higher (Figure 3). A declining trend in TP concentrations was also observed in the data from this site.

The majority of TKN results were below the guideline (Figure 5 and 6), 81 percent of samples were below 0.500 mg/l (TKN Guideline) with an average concentration of 0.438 mg/l (Table 4). Average monthly concentrations were comparable and also followed a similar pattern to TAY-09 (Figure 5). No significant trend was observed in the 2006-2017 TKN dataset.

Monitoring Site SNY-03

Site SNY-03 is on a channel that runs adjacent to the Tay River, TP concentrations are comparable to the downstream site TAY-05.  Ninety-six percent of samples at this site were below the TP guideline from 2006-2017 (Figures 3 and 4), and the average TP concentration in the at this site was 0.016 mg/l (Table 3). The monthly average concentrations were more variable then those sites (TAY-09 and TAY-05) on the main stem of the Tay River (Figure 3).  A decrease was observed in TP concentrations over the 2006-2017 period.

TKN concentrations show that the bulk of results (86 percent) were also below the guideline (Figure 6, Table 4). The average concentration over the 2006-2017 period was 0.413 mg/l (Table 4). Average monthly concentrations (Figure 5) show a similar pattern to sites on the Tay River (TAY-09 and TAY-05), with generally comparable concentrations.  No trend in TKN concentrations was observed at this site.

 

Figure 3 Average monthly total phosphorous concentrations in the Glen Tay catchment, 2006-2017
Figure 3   Average monthly total phosphorous concentrations in the Glen Tay catchment, 2006-2017
Figure 4 Distribution of total phosphorous concentrations in the Glen Tay catchment, 2006-2017
Figure 4  Distribution of total phosphorous concentrations in the Glen Tay catchment, 2006-2017
Figure 5 Average monthly total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in the Glen Tay catchment, 2006-2017
Figure 5  Average monthly total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in the Glen Tay catchment , 2006-2017
 Figure 6 Distribution of total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in the Glen Tay catchment, 2006-2017
Figure 6  Distribution of total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in the Glen Tay catchment , 2006-2017
Summary of Tay River Nutrients

The data collected in this catchment provides evidence that nutrient enrichment is not a significant concern in this reach of the Tay River.  Overall, the increase in TP and TKN concentrations from TAY-09 to TAY-05 show that some nutrient enrichment does occur downstream, however a declining trend in TP concentrations was noted at all sites. This provides support that cumulative changes throughout the catchment has reduced nutrient concentrations. This should be taken as a positive sign as high nutrient concentrations can help stimulate the growth of algae blooms and other aquatic vegetation in a waterbody and deplete oxygen levels as the vegetation dies off. It is important to continue best management practices such as minimizing storm water runoff, enhanced shoreline buffers, minimizing/discontinuing the use of fertilizers and restricting livestock access in upstream agricultural areas can help to prevent nutrient pollution and to continue to protect and enhance water quality conditions within the Tay River. 

2.1.2 Tay River: E. coli

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is used as an indicator of bacterial pollution from human or animal waste; in elevated concentrations it can pose a risk to human health. The PWQO of 100 colony forming units/100 millilitres (CFU/100 ml) is used. E. coli counts greater than this guideline indicate that bacterial contamination may be a problem within a waterbody.

Table 5 summarizes the geometric mean[3] for the monitored sites  within the Glen Tay catchment and shows the proportion of samples that meet the E. coli guideline of 100 CFU/100 ml. The results of the geometric mean with respect to the guideline, are shown in Figures 7 and 8 respectively.

Table 5 Summary of E. coli results for the Glen Tay catchment, 2006-2017
E. coli 2006-2017
SiteGeometric Mean (CFU/100ml)Below GuidelineNo. Samples
TAY-092097%71
TAY-053283%72
SNY-033987%71
 
Monitoring Site TAY-09

E. coli   counts at site TAY-09 indicate little concern with regard to bacterial contamination. Ninety-seven percent of samples were below the guideline (Figures 7-8) and the count at the geometric mean was only 20 CFU/100ml (Table 5). Monthly   E. coli   counts showed that the geometric mean was highest during the warmer months though all results were well below the guideline; warm water temperatures are more favourable for bacterial growth. (Figure 7).  No trend was noted in   E. coli   counts over the 2006-2017 period.

Monitoring Site TAY-05

Elevated   E. coli   counts at site downstream site TAY-05 were also uncommon. Eighty-three percent of samples were below the guideline (Figure 8) from 2006-2017. The count at the geometric mean was 32 CFU/100ml (Table 5) and well below the guideline, the highest counts were recorded in June (Figure 7).  As with site TAY-09  there was no significant trend in E. coli data over the 2006-2017 period.

Monitoring Site SNY-03

E. coli counts at site SNY-03 were comparable to conditions within the main channel of the Tay River (TAY-09 and TAY-05).  Eighty-seven percent of samples were below the guideline, with count of 39 CFU/100ml at the geometric mean (Table 5, Figure 8).  Monthly   E. coli   counts were below the guideline with the highest counts observed during the summer months (Figure 7). As with upstream sites no trend was noted in   E. coli   counts over the 2006-2017 period.

Figure 7 Geometric mean of E. coli results in the Glen Tay catchment, 2006-2017
Figure 7 Geometric mean of E. coli results in the Glen Tay catchment, 2006-2017
Figure 8 Distribution of E. coli counts in the Glen Tay catchment, 2006-2017.
Figure 8 Distribution of E. coli counts in the Glen Tay catchment, 2006-2017.
Summary of Tay River Bacterial Contamination

Bacterial contamination does not appear to be a significant concern in this reach of the Tay River. There are very few exceedances at all three sites and counts at the geometric mean are well below the guideline of 100 CFU/100ml. Best management practices such as enhancing shoreline buffers, limiting livestock access and minimizing runoff in both agricultural and developed areas can help to protect this reach of the Tay River into the future.


1 No Ontario guideline for TKN is presently available; however, waters not influenced by excessive organic inputs typically range from 0.100 to 0.500 mg/l, Environment Canada (1979) Water Quality Sourcebook, A Guide to Water Quality Parameters, Inland Waters Directorate, Water Quality Branch, Ottawa, Canada.

2 Trends in the data were assessed using the Mann-Kendall trend test and Sens slope statistic.

3 A type of mean or average, which indicates the central tendency or typical value of a set of numbers by using the product of their values (as opposed to the arithmetic mean which uses their sum). It is often used to summarize a variable that varies over several orders of magnitude, such as E. coli counts.

3.0  Glen Tay Catchment: Riparian Conditions

The Stream Characterization Program evaluated 17.9 km of the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in 2017 in the Glen Tay catchment.  A total of 135 stream surveys on the Tay River and 44 on the Scotts Snye were completed in the June and July.  For the purposes of the report the results for both systems are summarized together. 

In 2017 the Tay River subwatershed experienced high water levels along the Tay River and its tributaries.  In addition many of the Tay watershed lakes also experienced prolonged high water levels including Christie Lake immediately upstream of this reach.   After moving from two years of drought conditions in 2015 and 2016 heavy rains throughout the year made 2017 the wettest year in recorded history. The high flows out of Bobs Lake and through Christie Lake caused some out of bank flooding downstream of Althorpe Road affecting properties on Bathurst Concession 2 and Noonan Sideroad. No other flooding was recorded which would be because of the topography – relatively flat from Christie Lake through Althorpe Road to Noonan Sideroad with slower flows and low banks. Below Noonan Road, the gradient increases and the water moves more quickly downstream and does not overtop the banks as easily. Flows remained above average through the year with the frequent rain events.

The Tay River at Bowes Side Road during the spring of 2017 (looking downstream)
The Tay River at Bowes Side Road during the spring of 2017 (looking upstream)
 

3.1 Glen Tay - Tay River Overbank Zone

3.1.1 Riparian Land Cover Evaluation

The quality of the riparian area increases with the width, complexity and linear extent of its vegetation along a stream or creek. A complex riparian community consists of diverse plant species native to the site, with multiple age-classes providing vertical structural diversity along a watercourse.

Here is a list of watershed benefits from a healthy riparian buffer zone:

  • Reduces the amount of pollutants that reach the stream from surface runoff
  • Helps reduce and mitigates erosion
  • Provides a microclimate that is cooler during the summer months providing cooler water for aquatic organisms
  • Provides large wood structure from fallen trees and limbs that form instream cover, create pools, stabilize the streambed, and provide habitat for aquatic organisms
  • Provides organic material for stream biota that, among other functions, is the base of the food chain in lower order streams
  • Provides habitat for terrestrial insects that drop in the stream and become food for fish and travel corridors for other terrestrial animals
  • Dissipates energy during flood events
  • Often provides the only refuge areas for fish during out-of-bank flows (behind trees, stumps, and logs)

Figure 9 demonstrates the buffer conditions of the left and right banks separately.  The Tay River and the Scotts Snye had a buffer of greater than 30 meters along 90 percent of the left bank and 88 percent of the right bank.   

Figure 9 Riparian Buffer Evaluation along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment  
 

3.1.2 Riparian Buffer Alterations

Alterations within the riparian buffer were assessed within three distinct shoreline zones (0-5m, 5-15m, 15-30m), and evaluated based on the dominant vegetative community and/or land cover type (Figure 10). The riparian buffer zone along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye was found to be dominated by forest, scrubland, wetlands and meadow conditions.  There were minimal areas with altered riparian zone conditions along the majority of the system.

Figure 10 Riparian buffer alterations along Tay River and the Scotts Snye
 

3.1.3 Adjacent Land Use

The RVCA’s Stream Characterization Program identifies eleven different land uses along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye (Figure 11). Surrounding land use is considered from the beginning to end of the survey section (100m) and up to 100m on each side of the river. Land use outside of this area is not considered for the surveys but is nonetheless part of the subwatershed and will influence the creek.  Forest habitat was dominant at 93 percent; scrubland was found along 70 percent of the surveyed sections, wetland habitat was observed along 45 percent of the system and 15 percent meadow habitat was present along the Tay River and Scotts Snye.  The remaining land use consisted of residential, pasture, active/abandoned agriculture, recreational and infrastructure in the form of road crossings.

Figure 11 Land Use along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.2 Glen Tay - Tay River Shoreline Zone

3.2.1 Instream Erosion

Stream erosion is the process by which water erodes and transports sediments, resulting in dynamic flows and diverse habitat conditions.  Excessive erosion can result in drastic environmental changes, as habitat conditions, water quality and aquatic life are all negatively affected.  Bank stability was assessed as the overall extent of each section with “unstable” shoreline conditions.  These conditions are defined by the presence of significant exposed soils/roots, minimal bank vegetation, severe undercutting, slumping or scour and potential failed erosion measures. The majority of the Tay River and the Scotts Snye had no erosion observed along the majority of surveyed sections with a few small sections having low levels of erosion (Figure 12).

Figure 12 Erosion levels along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.2.2 Undercut Stream Banks

Stream bank undercuts can provide excellent cover habitat for aquatic life, however excessive levels can be an indication of unstable shoreline conditions.  Bank undercut was assessed as the overall extent of each surveyed section with overhanging bank cover present.   Figure 13 shows that the Tay River and the Scotts Snye had no observed undercut banks along the majority of the system, however there were several short sections with low to moderate levels of undercut banks. 

Figure 13 Undercut stream banks along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.2.3 Stream Shading

Grasses, shrubs and trees all contribute towards shading a stream. Shade is important in moderating stream temperature, contributing to food supply and helping with nutrient reduction within a stream.  Stream cover is assessed as the total coverage area in each section that is shaded by overhanging trees/grasses and tree canopy, at greater than 1m above the water surface.  Figure 14 shows low levels of stream shading along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye.  Stream shading conditions were highly variable along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye ranging from no overhead canopy cover to high levels.  

Figure 14 Stream shading along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.2.4 Instream Wood Structure

Forested shorelines provide essential complex habitat through the perpetual process of shoreline trees falling into the water.  This continuous recruitment of trees creates a wood-based physical structure in the littoral zone that is common on natural systems.  Insects, fish, amphibians, birds, and other animals have also evolved with this abundance of near shore wood and it is essential to their life cycles. With increased development along many waterways and forested lakeshores having been altered as a result wood-based physical structure in many waterbodies has been reduced. It is important to restore this essential habitat to aquatic ecosystems.

Shoreline Protection
  • Protects shorelines by providing a barrier from wind and wave erosion
  • Reduces sedimentation of the water caused by shoreline slumping due to bank erosion
  • Allows detritus to collect and settle on the lake or creek bed providing the substrate structure required for native aquatic vegetation to establish and outcompete invasive species
Food Source
  • Wood complexes are an important food source for invertebrates 
  • Small fish feed on the abundance of invertebrates that are found around these structures
  • Larger fish, waterfowl and shorebirds all benefit from the abundance of invertebrates and small fish feeding around woody structures in the littoral zone 
Cover
  • Cover from predators is essential for many fish and animals to successfully complete their life cycle
  • The nooks and crannies of wood complexes offer critters safety from predators while at the same time concentrating prey to make predators more efficient
  • Wood provides the structure on which many species must lay or attach their eggs, therefore these complexes provide quality spawning and nesting habitat
Diversity
  • Wood complexes in the littoral zone provide unique edge habitat along the shoreline
  • Edge habitats contain more species diversity and higher concentrations of species than the adjoining habitats themselves will have

Figure 15 shows that the majority of the Tay River and the Scotts Snye had low levels of instream wood structure along the system.  There were several stream survey sections in the middle reach which were characterized as having moderate to high levels of instream wood structure in the form of branches and trees along the system.  

Figure 15 Instream wood structure along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.2.5 Overhanging Wood Structure

Trees and branches that are less than one meter from the surface of the water are defined as overhanging.  Overhanging branches and trees provide a food source, nutrients and shade which helps to moderate instream water temperatures.  Figure 16 shows the system is variable with no overhanging branches and trees to areas that have high levels of overhanging wood structure along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye. 

Figure 16 Overhanging wood structure along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 
Overhanging and instream wood structure along the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.2.6 Anthropogenic Alterations

Stream alterations are classified based on specific functional criteria associated with the flow conditions, the riparian buffer and potential human influences.  Figure 17 shows sixty six percent of the Tay River and the Scotts Snye remains “unaltered” with no anthropogenic alterations.   Thirty one percent of the Tay River and the Scotts Snye was classified as natural with minor anthropogenic changes.  Three percent of survey sections were classified as being altered they consisted of sections with road crossings and areas with shoreline modifications.

Figure 17 Anthropogenic alterations along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.3 Glen Tay - Tay River Instream Aquatic Habitat

3.3.1 Benthic Invertebrates

Freshwater benthic invertebrates are animals without backbones that live on the stream bottom and include crustaceans such as crayfish, molluscs and immature forms of aquatic insects. Benthos represent an extremely diverse group of aquatic animals and exhibit wide ranges of responses to stressors such as organic pollutants, sediments and toxicants, which allows scientists to use them as bioindicators.  As part of the Ontario Benthic Biomonitoring Network (OBBN), the RVCA has been collecting benthic invertebrates at the Bowes Side Road site since 2011.  The site was added to the monitoring network as a result of an identified gap in the program during the first reporting cycle.  Monitoring data is analyzed for each sample site and the results are presented using the Family Biotic Index, Family Richness and percent Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera.

Benthic invertebrate sampling location at Bowes side Road
 
Hilsenhoff Family Biotic Index

The Hilsenhoff Family Biotic Index (FBI) is an indicator of organic and nutrient pollution and provides an estimate of water quality conditions for each site using established pollution tolerance values for benthic invertebrates. FBI results for the Glen Tay - Tay River catchment at the Bowes Side Road sample location is summarized by year.  “Good” to “Excellent” water quality conditions were observed at the Tay River sample location (Figure 18) using a grading scheme developed by Conservation Authorities in Ontario for benthic invertebrates.   

Figure 18 Hilsenhoff Family Biotic Index at the Bowes Side Road sample location
 
Family Richness

Family Richness measures the health of the community through its diversity and increases with increasing habitat diversity suitability and healthy water quality conditions. Family Richness is equivalent to the total number of benthic invertebrate families found within a sample.   The Tay River sample location is reported to have “Good” family richness (Figure 19).

Figure 19 Family Richness at the Bowes Side Road sample location
 
 
EPT

Ephemeroptera (Mayflies), Plecoptera (Stoneflies), and Trichoptera (Caddisflies) are species considered to be very sensitive to poor water quality conditions. High abundance of these organisms is generally an indication of good water quality conditions at a sample location.  The community structure is typically dominated by species that are sensitive to poor water quality conditions.  As a result, the EPT indicates that Tay River sample location is reported to have “Good” water quality (Figure 20) during the reporting periods.

Figure 20 EPT on the Bowes Side Road sample location
 
Conclusion

Overall the Tay River sample location in the Glen Tay catchment from a benthic invertebrate perspective is considered “Excellent” as the samples are dominated with species that are sensitive to high organic pollution levels.

3.3.2 Habitat Complexity

Habitat complexity is a measure of the overall diversity of habitat types and features within a stream. Streams with high habitat complexity support a greater variety of species niches, and therefore contribute to greater diversity. Factors such as substrate, flow conditions (pools, riffles) and cover material (vegetation, wood structure, etc.) all provide crucial habitat to aquatic life.  Habitat complexity is assessed based on the presence of boulder, cobble and gravel substrates, as well as the presence of instream wood structure.

Moderate to high habitat complexity was identified for the Tay River and the Scotts Snye (Figure 21). Regions with increased habitat complexity were observed throughout the reaches of the system within the catchment.

Figure 21 Habitat complexity along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.3.3 Instream Substrate

Diverse substrate is important for fish and benthic invertebrate habitat because some species have specific substrate requirements and for example will only reproduce on certain types of substrate.  The absence of diverse substrate types may limit the overall diversity of species within a stream.  Figure 22 shows the overall presence of various substrate types observed along Grants Creek. Substrate conditions were highly diverse along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye with all substrate types being recorded at various locations along the system.  Figure 23 shows the dominant substrate type observed for each section surveyed along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye. 

Figure 22 Instream substrate along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 
Figure 23 shows the dominant substrate type along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.3.4 Instream Morphology

Pools and riffles are important habitat features for aquatic life.  Riffles are fast flowing areas characterized by agitation and overturn of the water surface. Riffles thereby play a crucial role in contributing to dissolved oxygen conditions and directly support spawning for some fish species.  They are also areas that support high benthic invertebrate populations which are an important food source for many aquatic species.  Pools are characterized by minimal flows, with relatively deep water and winter/summer refuge habitat for aquatic species.  Runs are moderately shallow, with unagitated surfaces of water and areas where the thalweg (deepest part of the channel) is in the center of the channel. Figure 24 shows that the Tay River and the Scotts Snye are highly variable; 92 percent of sections recorded runs, 62 percent pools and 48 percent riffles. Figure 25 shows where the riffle habitat areas were observed along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye.

Figure 24 Instream morphology along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 
 Figure 25 Instream riffle habitat along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.3.5 Vegetation Type

Instream vegetation provides a variety of functions and is a critical component of the aquatic ecosystem.  Aquatic plants promote stream health by:

  • Providing direct riparian/instream habitat
  • Stabilizing flows reducing shoreline erosion
  • Contributing to dissolved oxygen through photosynthesis
  • Maintaining temperature conditions through shading

For example emergent plants along the shoreline can provide shoreline protection from wave action and important rearing habitat for species of waterfowl.  Submerged plants provide habitat for fish to find shelter from predator fish while they feed.  Floating plants such as water lilies shade the water and can keep temperatures cool while reducing algae growth.  Narrow leaved emergents were observed in 86 percent of sections, submerged plants at 87 percent, 78 percent broad leaved emergents, 65 percent of sections contained algae, 64 percent floating plants, while robust emergents were present in 39 percent of the survey sections.  Figure 26 depicts the plant community structure for the Tay River and the Scotts Snye. Figure 27 shows the dominant vegetation type observed for each section surveyed along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment.

Figure 26 Vegetation type along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 
Figure 27 Dominant vegetation type along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.3.6 Instream Vegetation Abundance

Instream vegetation is an important factor for a healthy stream ecosystem. Vegetation helps to remove contaminants from the water, contributes oxygen to the stream, and provides habitat for fish and wildlife. Too much vegetation can also be detrimental. Figure 28 demonstrates that the Tay River and the Scotts Snye had normal to common levels of vegetation recorded at 49 and 46 percent of stream surveys.  Extensive levels of vegetation were observed in 28 percent of the surveyed sections, while 45 percent of sections had no vegetation in areas that were dominated by bedrock substrate conditions.

Figure 28 Instream vegetation abundance along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.3.7 Invasive Species

Invasive species can have major implications on streams and species diversity. Invasive species are one of the largest threats to ecosystems throughout Ontario and can out compete native species, having negative effects on local wildlife, fish and plant populations. Ninety five percent of the sections surveyed along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment had invasive species. The invasive species observed were European frogbit, banded mystery snail, Chinese mystery snail, curly leafed pondweed, dog strangling vine, Eurasian milfoil, European/Black alder, flowering rush, honey suckle, Manitoba maple, zebra mussel, yellow iris, poison/wild parsnip, purple loosestrife, bull thistle and common/glossy buckthorn.  Invasive species abundance (i.e. the number of observed invasive species per section) was assessed to determine the potential range/vector of many of these species (Figure 29).

Figure 29 Invasive species abundance along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.3.8 Water Chemistry

During the stream characterization survey, a YSI probe is used to collect water chemistry information.  Dissolved oxygen (DO), specific conductivity (SPC) and pH are measured at the start and end of each section. 

RVCA staff measuring water chemistry on the Scotts Snye in 2017 using a YSI water quality meter
 

3.3.8.1 Dissolved Oxygen

Dissolved oxygen is a measure of the amount of oxygen dissolved in water. The Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) suggest that for the protection of aquatic life the lowest acceptable dissolved oxygen concentration should be 6 mg/L for warmwater biota and 9.5 mg/L for coldwater biota (CCME, 1999).  Figure 30 shows that the dissolved oxygen in Tay River and the Scotts Snye supports warmwater and in certain locations coldwater biota along the system.  The average dissolved oxygen level observed within the Glen Tay - Tay River catchment was 8.2mg/L which meets the recommended level for warm and cool water biota. 

Figure 30 Dissolved oxygen ranges along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment 
 
 

3.3.8.2 Conductivity

Conductivity in streams is primarily influenced by the geology of the surrounding environment, but can vary drastically as a function of surface water runoff. Currently there are no CCME guideline standards for stream conductivity; however readings which are outside the normal range observed within the system are often an indication of unmitigated discharge and/or stormwater input. The average conductivity observed within the Tay River and the Scotts Snye was 145.8 µs/cm.  Figure 31 shows the conductivity readings for the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment.

Figure 31 Specific conductivity ranges in the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.3.8.3 pH

Based on the PWQO for pH, a range of 6.5 to 8.5 should be maintained for the protection of aquatic life. Average pH values along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye were 7.83 thereby meeting the provincial standard (Figure 32).

Figure 32 pH ranges along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment 
 
 

3.3.8.4 Oxygen Saturation (%)

Oxygen saturation is measured as the ratio of dissolved oxygen relative to the maximum amount of oxygen that will dissolve based on the temperature and atmospheric pressure. Well oxygenated water will stabilize at or above 100% saturation, however the presence of decaying matter/pollutants can drastically reduce these levels. Oxygen input through photosynthesis has the potential to increase saturation above 100% to a maximum of 500%, depending on the productivity level of the environment. In order to represent the relationship between concentration and saturation, the measured values have been summarized into 6 classes.

 
Dissolved oxygen conditions for the Tay River and the Scotts Snye varied along the system for both warm and coolwater species (Figure 33).
 
Figure 33 A bivariate assessment of dissolved oxygen concentration (mg/L) and saturation (%) in the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment 
 

3.3.8.5 Specific Conductivity Assessment

Specific conductivity (SPC) is a standardized measure of electrical conductance, collected at or corrected to a water temperature of 25⁰C. SPC is directly related to the concentration of ions in water, and is commonly influenced by the presence of dissolved salts, alkalis, chlorides, sulfides and carbonate compounds. The higher the concentration of these compounds, the higher the conductivity. Common sources of elevated conductivity include storm water, agricultural inputs and commercial/industrial effluents.

In order to summarize the conditions observed, SPC levels were evaluated as either normal, moderately elevated or highly elevated. These categories correspond directly to the degree of variation (i.e. standard deviation) at each site relative to the average across the system.

Normal levels were maintained in the middle reaches of the Tay River and the Scotts Snye, however there were moderately elevated areas in the middle and lower reaches (Figure 34).  Two sections had high conductivity levels observed in the lower reach.

Figure 34 Relative specific conductivity levels along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.3.9 Thermal Regime

Many factors can influence fluctuations in stream temperature, including springs, tributaries, precipitation runoff, discharge pipes and stream shading from riparian vegetation. Water temperature is used along with the maximum air temperature (using the Stoneman and Jones method) to classify a watercourse as either warm water, cool water or cold water. Figure 35 shows where the thermal sampling sites were located on the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment.  Analysis of the data collected indicates that the Tay River and the Scotts Snye are classified as warm water systems (Figure 36). 

Figure 35 Temperature logger locations along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment 
 
Figure 36 Temperature logger data for the sites along the Tay River and the Scotts Snye in the Glen Tay catchment 
 

Each point on the graph represents a temperature that meets the following criteria:

  • Sampling dates between July 1st and September 7th
  • Sampling date is preceded by two consecutive days above 24.5 °C, with no rain
  • Water temperatures are collected at 4pm
  • Air temperature is recorded as the max temperature for that day
 

3.3.10 Groundwater

Groundwater discharge areas can influence stream temperature, contribute nutrients, and provide important stream habitat for fish and other biota. During stream surveys, indicators of groundwater discharge are noted when observed. Indicators include: springs/seeps, watercress, iron staining, significant temperature change and rainbow mineral film.  Figure 37 shows areas where one or more of the above groundwater indicators were observed during stream surveys and headwater assessments. 

Figure 37 Groundwater indicators observed in the Glen Tay - Tay River and the Scotts Snye catchment
 
 

3.3.11 Fish Community

The Tay River and the Scotts Snye Glen Tay catchment is classified as a mixed community of warm and cool water recreational and baitfish fishery with 29 species observed (Figure 38). Table 6 displays a list of species observed in the watershed in 2017 and historically.  

Figure 38 Fish community sampling observations for 2017
 
 
Table 6 Fish species observed in the Glen Tay catchment
Fish SpeciesScientific NameFish codeHistorical2017
banded killifishFundulus diaphanusBaKilXX
blackchin shinerNotropis heterodonBcShiX
blacknose daceRhinichthys atratulusBnDacX
blacknose shinerNotropis heterolepisBnShiX
bluntnose minnowPimephales notatusBnMinXX
brook sticklebackCulaea inconstansBrStiX
brown bullheadAmeiurus nebulosusBrBulXX
carps and minnowsCyprinidaeCA_MIX
central mudminnowUmbra limiCeMudX
central stonerollerCampostoma anomalumCeStoX
common shinerLuxilus cornutusCoShiXX
creek chubSemotilus atromaculatusCrChuX
emerald shinerNotropis atherinoidesEmShiX
etheostoma sp.etheostoma sp.EthSpX
fallfishSemotilus corporalisFallfX
fathead minnowPimephales promelasFhMinX
hornyhead chubNocomis biguttatusHhChuXX
iowa darterEtheostoma exileIoDar
johnny darterEtheostoma nigrumJoDarX
largemouth bassMicropterus salmoidesLmBasX
logperchPercina caprodesLogpeXX
longnose daceRhinichthys cataractaeLnDacX
northern pearl daceMargariscus nachtriebiPeDacX
northern pikeEsox luciusNoPikXX
northern redbelly daceChrosomus eosNRDacX
pumpkinseedLepomis gibbosusPumpkXX
rock bassAmbloplites rupestrisRoBasXX
smallmouth bassMicropterus dolomieuSmBasXX
spottail shinerNotropis hudsoniusStShiX
walleyeSander vitreusWalleX
white suckerCatostomus commersoniiWhSucX
yellow bullheadAmeiurus natalisYeBulX
yellow perchPerca flavescensYePerX
TOTAL Species2913
 
RVCA fyke net site along the Tay River in the Glen Tay - Tay River catchment.
 

3.3.12 Migratory Obstructions

It is important to know locations of migratory obstructions because these can prevent fish from accessing important spawning and rearing habitat. Migratory obstructions can be natural or manmade, and they can be permanent or seasonal. Figure 39 shows that Glen Tay catchment had one perched culvert on a headwater drainage feature and one natural grade barrier on the Tay River.

Figure 39 Migratory obstructions in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.3.13 Beaver Dams

Overall beaver dams create natural changes in the environment. Some of the benefits include providing habitat for wildlife, flood control, and silt retention. Additional benefits come from bacterial decomposition of woody material used in the dams which removes excess nutrient and toxins. Beaver dams can also result in flooding of agricultural lands and may be potential barriers to fish migration. Several beaver dams were identified along the Scotts Snye at the time of the survey (Figure 40).   

Figure 40 Beaver Dam type and locations in the Glen Tay catchment
 
Beaver dam located on the Scotts Snye in the summer of 2017
 
 

3.3.14 Riparian Restoration

Figure 41 depicts the locations of riparian restoration opportunities as a result of observations made during the stream survey.  Two riparian planting opportunities were identified on headwater drainage features in the Glen Tay catchment.   

Figure 41 Riparian restoration opportunities in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.4 Headwater Drainage Feature Assessment

3.4.1 Headwaters Sampling Locations

The RVCA Stream Characterization program assessed Headwater Drainage Features for the Glen Tay - Tay River catchment in 2017. This protocol measures zero, first and second order headwater drainage features (HDF).  It is a rapid assessment method characterizing the amount of water, sediment transport, and storage capacity within headwater drainage features (HDF). RVCA is working with other Conservation Authorities and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to implement the protocol with the goal of providing standard datasets to support science development and monitoring of headwater drainage features.  An HDF is a depression in the land that conveys surface flow. Additionally, this module provides a means of characterizing the connectivity, form and unique features associated with each HDF (OSAP Protocol, 2013). In 2017 the program sampled 19 sites at road crossings in the Glen Tay catchment area (Figure 42).  

Figure 42 Location of the headwater sampling sites in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.4.2 Headwater Feature Type

The headwater sampling protocol assesses the feature type in order to understand the function of each feature.  The evaluation includes the following classifications: defined natural channel, channelized or constrained, multi-thread, no defined feature, tiled, wetland, swale, roadside ditch and pond outlet.  By assessing the values associated with the headwater drainage features in the catchment area we can understand the ecosystem services that they provide to the watershed in the form of hydrology, sediment transport, and aquatic and terrestrial functions.  The headwater drainage features in the Glen Tay catchment are highly variable.  Figure 43 shows the feature type of the primary feature at the sampling locations.

Figure 43 Headwater feature types in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.4.3 Headwater Feature Flow

The observed flow condition within headwater drainage features can be highly variable depending on timing relative to the spring freshet, recent rainfall, soil moisture, etc.  Flow conditions are assessed in the spring and in the summer to determine if features are perennial and flow year round, if they are intermittent and dry up during the summer months or if they are ephemeral systems that do not flow regularly and generally respond to specific rainstorm events or snowmelt.  Flow conditions in headwater systems can change from year to year depending on local precipitation patterns.  Figure 44 shows the observed flow condition at the sampling locations in the Glen Tay catchment.

Figure 44 Headwater feature flow conditions in the Glen Tay catchment
 
A spring photo of the headwater sample site in the Glen Tay catchment located on Christie Lake Road
 
A summer photo of the headwater sample site in the Glen Tay catchment located on Christie Lake Road
 

3.4.4 Feature Channel Modifications

Channel modifications were assessed at each headwater drainage feature sampling location.  Modifications include channelization, dredging, hardening and realignments.  The Glen Tay catchment area had a majority of features with no channel modifications observed, five sites as having been historically dredged/channelized and two locations had mixed modifications.  Figure 45 shows the channel modifications observed at the sampling locations for the Glen Tay catchment.

 
Figure 45 Headwater feature channel modifications in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.4.5 Headwater Feature Vegetation

Headwater feature vegetation evaluates the type of vegetation that is found within the drainage feature.  The type of vegetated within the channel influences the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem values that the feature provides.  For some types of headwater features the vegetation within the feature plays a very important role in flow and sediment movement and provides wildlife habitat.  The following classifications are evaluated no vegetation, lawn, wetland, meadow, scrubland and forest.  Figure 46 depicts the dominant vegetation observed at the sampled headwater sites in the Glen Tay catchment.

Figure 46 Headwater feature vegetation types in the Glen Tay  catchment
 

3.4.6 Headwater Feature Riparian Vegetation

Headwater riparian vegetation evaluates the type of vegetation that is found along the adjacent lands of a headwater drainage feature.  The type of vegetation within the riparian corridor influences the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem values that the feature provides to the watershed.  Figure 47 depicts the type of riparian vegetation observed at the sampled headwater sites in the Glen Tay catchment.

Figure 47 Headwater feature riparian vegetation types in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.4.7 Headwater Feature Sediment Deposition

Assessing the amount of recent sediment deposited in a channel provides an index of the degree to which the feature could be transporting sediment to downstream reaches (OSAP, 2013).  Evidence of excessive sediment deposition might indicate the requirement to follow up with more detailed targeted assessments upstream of the site location to identify potential best management practices to be implemented.  Sediment deposition ranged from none to substantial for the headwater sites sampled in the Glen Tay catchment area.  Figure 48 depicts the degree of sediment deposition observed at the sampled headwater sites in the Glen Tay catchment.

Figure 48 Headwater feature sediment deposition in the Glen Tay catchment
 

3.4.8 Headwater Feature Upstream Roughness

Feature roughness will provide a measure of the amount of materials within the bankfull channel that could slow down the velocity of water flowing within the headwater feature (OSAP, 2013).  Materials on the channel bottom that provide roughness include vegetation, woody Structure and boulders/cobble substrates.  Roughness can provide benefits in mitigating downstream erosion on the headwater drainage feature and the receiving watercourse by reducing velocities.  Roughness also provides important habitat conditions for aquatic organisms.  Figure 49 shows the feature roughness conditions at the sampling locations in the Glen Tay catchment were highly variable ranging from minimal to extreme.

Figure 49 Headwater feature roughness in the Glen Tay catchment
 

4.0 Glen Tay Catchment: Land Cover

Land cover and any change in coverage that has occurred over a six year period is summarized for the Glen Tay catchment using spatially continuous vector data representing the catchment during the spring of 2008 and 2014. This dataset was developed by the RVCA through heads-up digitization of 20cm DRAPE ortho-imagery at a 1:4000 scale and details the surrounding landscape using 10 land cover classes.

4.1 Glen Tay Catchment Land Cover/Change

As shown in Table 7 and Figure 1, the dominant land cover type in 2014 is woodland.

Table 7 Land cover in the Glen Tay catchment (2008 vs. 2014)
Land Cover20082014Change - 2008 to 2014
AreaAreaArea
HaPercentHaPercentHaPercent
Woodland*254146252445-17-1
Crop and Pasture15312715362851
Wetland**837158441570
>Evaluated(4)(<1)(4)(<1)(0)(0)
>Unevaluated(833)(15)(840)(15)(7)(0)
Settlement2244229450
Meadow-Thicket17031693-10
Water1503150300
Transportation1172118210
* Does not include treed swamps ** Includes treed swamps
 

From 2008 to 2014, there was an overall change of 26 hectares (from one land cover class to another). Most of the change in the Glen Tay catchment is a result of the conversion of woodland to crop and pastureland along with crop and pastureland being transformed into settlement and reverting to woodland (Figure 50).

LandCoverChangeNewTay-RiverTay-River---Glen-Tay-001-001
Figure 50 Land cover change in the Glen Tay catchment (2014)
 

Table 8 provides a detailed breakdown of all land cover change that has taken place in the Glen Tay catchment between 2008 and 2014.

Table 8 Land cover change in the Glen Tay catchment (2008 to 2014)
Land CoverChange - 2008 to 2014
Area
Ha.Percent
Woodland to Crop and Pasture1349.6
Crop and Pasture to Settlement4.115.6
Crop and Pasture to Woodland3.212.3
Woodland to Unevaluated Wetland3.111.9
Woodland to Settlement13.8
Crop and Pasture to Transportation0.62.5
Meadow-Thicket to Unevaluated Wetland0.52
Woodland to Transportation0.51.9
Meadow-Thicket to Settlement0.3<0.1

4.2 Woodland Cover

In the Environment Canada Guideline (Third Edition) entitled “How Much Habitat Is Enough?” (hereafter referred to as the “Guideline”) the opening narrative under the Forest Habitat Guidelines section states that prior to European settlement, forest was the predominant habitat in the Mixedwood Plains ecozone. The remnants of this once vast forest now exist in a fragmented state in many areas (including the Rideau Valley watershed) with woodland patches of various sizes distributed across the settled landscape along with higher levels of forest cover associated with features such as the Frontenac Axis (within the on-Shield areas of the Rideau Lakes and Tay River subwatersheds). The forest legacy, in terms of the many types of wildlife species found, overall species richness, ecological functions provided and ecosystem complexity is still evident in the patches and regional forest matrices (found in the Tay River subwatershed and elsewhere in the Rideau Valley watershed). These ecological features are in addition to other influences which forests have on water quality and stream hydrology including reducing soil erosion, producing oxygen, storing carbon along with many other ecological services that are essential not only for wildlife but for human well-being.

The Guideline also notes that forests provide a great many habitat niches that are in turn occupied by a great diversity of plant and animal species. They provide food, water and shelter for these species - whether they are breeding and resident locally or using forest cover to help them move across the landscape. This diversity of species includes many that are considered to be species at risk. Furthermore, from a wildlife perspective, there is increasing evidence that the total forest cover in a given area is a major predictor of the persistence and size of bird populations, and it is possible or perhaps likely that this pattern extends to other flora and fauna groups. The overall effect of a decrease in forest cover on birds in fragmented landscapes is that certain species disappear and many of the remaining ones become rare, or fail to reproduce, while species adapted to more open and successional habitats, as well as those that are more tolerant to human-induced disturbances in general, are able to persist and in some cases thrive. Species with specialized-habitat requirements are most likely to be adversely affected. The overall pattern of distribution of forest cover, the shape, area and juxtaposition of remaining forest patches and the quality of forest cover also play major roles in determining how valuable forests will be to wildlife and people alike.

The current science generally supports minimum forest habitat requirements between 30 and 50 percent, with some limited evidence that the upper limit may be even higher, depending on the organism/species phenomenon under investigation or land-use/resource management planning regime being considered/used.

As shown in Figure 51, 46 percent of the Glen Tay catchment contains 2524 hectares of upland forest and 43 hectares of lowland forest (treed swamps) versus the 47 percent of woodland cover in the Tay River subwatershed. This is greater than the 30 percent of forest cover that is identified as the minimum threshold required to sustain forest birds according to the Guideline and which may only support less than one half of potential species richness and marginally healthy aquatic systems. When forest cover drops below 30 percent, forest birds tend to disappear as breeders across the landscape.

InteriorForestTay-RiverTay-River---Glen-Tay-001-001
Figure 51 Woodland cover and forest interior in the Glen Tay catchment (2014)
 

4.2.1 Woodland (Patch) Size

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Natural Heritage Reference Manual (Second Edition), larger woodlands are more likely to contain a greater diversity of plant and animal species and communities than smaller woodlands and have a greater relative importance for mobile animal species such as forest birds.

Bigger forests often provide a different type of habitat. Many forest birds breed far more successfully in larger forests than they do in smaller woodlots and some rely heavily on forest interior conditions. Populations are often healthier in regions with more forest cover and where forest fragments are grouped closely together or connected by corridors of natural habitat. Small forests support small numbers of wildlife. Some species are “area-sensitive” and tend not to inhabit small woodlands, regardless of forest interior conditions. Fragmented habitat also isolates local populations, especially small mammals, amphibians and reptiles with limited mobility. This reduces the healthy mixing of genetic traits that helps populations survive over the long run (Conserving the Forest Interior. Ontario Extension Notes, 2000).

The Environment Canada Guideline also notes that for forest plants that do not disperse broadly or quickly, preservation of some relatively undisturbed large forest patches is needed to sustain them because of their restricted dispersal abilities and specialized habitat requirements and to ensure continued seed or propagation sources for restored or regenerating areas nearby.

The Natural Heritage Reference Manual continues by stating that a larger size also allows woodlands to support more resilient nutrient cycles and food webs and to be big enough to permit different and important successional stages to co-exist. Small, isolated woodlands are more susceptible to the effects of blowdown, drought, disease, insect infestations, and invasions by predators and non-indigenous plants. It is also known that the viability of woodland wildlife depends not only on the characteristics of the woodland in which they reside, but also on the characteristics of the surrounding landscape where the woodland is situated. Additionally, the percentage of forest cover in the surrounding landscape, the presence of ecological barriers such as roads, the ability of various species to cross the matrix surrounding the woodland and the proximity of adjacent habitats interact with woodland size in influencing the species assemblage within a woodland.

In the Glen Tay catchment (in 2014), one hundred and fifty-one (57 percent) of the 265 woodland patches are very small, being less than one hectare in size. Another 94 (35 percent) of the woodland patches ranging from one to less than 20 hectares in size tend to be dominated by edge-tolerant bird species. The remaining 20 (eight percent of) woodland patches range between 21 and 1083 hectares in size. Seventeen of these patches contain woodland between 20 and 100 hectares and may support a few area-sensitive species and some edge intolerant species, but will be dominated by edge tolerant species.

Conversely, three (one percent) of the 265 woodland patches in the drainage area exceed the 100 plus hectare size needed to support most forest dependent, area sensitive birds and are large enough to support approximately 60 percent of edge-intolerant species. One patch top 200 hectares, which according to the Environment Canada Guideline will support 80 percent of edge-intolerant forest bird species (including most area sensitive species) that prefer interior forest habitat conditions.

Table 9 presents a comparison of woodland patch size in 2008 and 2014 along with any changes that have occurred over that time. A decrease (of 14 hectares) has been observed in the overall woodland patch area between the two reporting periods with most change occurring in the 50 to 100 woodland patch size class range. This loss of forest cover has increased the number of woodland patches in the catchment and led to further fragmentation of the forest over the six year period.

Table 9 Woodland patches in the Glen Tay catchment (2008 and 2014)
Woodland Patch Size Range (ha)Woodland* PatchesPatch Change
200820142008 to 2014
NumberAreaNumberAreaNumberArea
Count% Ha%Count% Ha%CountHa
Less than 1 144565621515758272
1 to 20933638115943539716116
20 to 50104281111042831102
50 to 100734681873438170-30
100 to 200213131221309120-4
Greater than 2001<11083421<110834200
Totals257100258210026510025681008-14
*Includes treed swamps
 

4.2.2 Woodland (Forest) Interior Habitat

The forest interior is habitat deep within woodlands. It is a sheltered, secluded environment away from the influence of forest edges and open habitats. Some people call it the “core” or the “heart” of a woodland. The presence of forest interior is a good sign of woodland health, and is directly related to the woodland’s size and shape. Large woodlands with round or square outlines have the greatest amount of forest interior. Small, narrow woodlands may have no forest interior conditions at all. Forest interior habitat is a remnant natural environment, reminiscent of the extensive, continuous forests of the past. This increasingly rare forest habitat is now a refuge for certain forest-dependent wildlife; they simply must have it to survive and thrive in a fragmented forest landscape (Conserving the Forest Interior. Ontario Extension Notes, 2000).

The Natural Heritage Reference Manual states that woodland interior habitat is usually defined as habitat more than 100 metres from the edge of the woodland and provides for relative seclusion from outside influences along with a moister, more sheltered and productive forest habitat for certain area sensitive species. Woodlands with interior habitat have centres that are more clearly buffered against the edge effects of agricultural activities or more harmful urban activities than those without.

In the Glen Tay catchment (in 2014), the 265 woodland patches contain 24 forest interior patches (Figure 51) that occupy four percent (239 ha.) of the catchment land area (which is less than the five percent of interior forest in the Tay River subwatershed). This is below the ten percent figure referred to in the Environment Canada Guideline that is considered to be the minimum threshold for supporting edge intolerant bird species and other forest dwelling species in the landscape.

Most patches (19) have less than 10 hectares of interior forest, five of which have small areas of interior forest habitat less than one hectare in size. The remaining five patches contain interior forest between 14 and 95 hectares in area. Between 2008 and 2014, the area of interior forest habitat in the catchment has decreased by nine hectares (Table 10).

Table 10 Woodland interior in the Glen Tay catchment (2008 and 2014)
Woodland Interior Habitat Size Range (ha)Woodland InteriorInterior Change
200820142008 to 2014
NumberAreaNumberAreaNumberArea
CountPercentHaPercentCountPercent HaPercentCountHa
Less than 1 4181<15211110
1 to 10135642171458482016
10 to 3041874303135924-1-15
30 to 5014361514361500
50 to 10014953814954000
Totals23100248100241002391001-9

4.3 Wetland Cover

Wetlands are habitats forming the interface between aquatic and terrestrial systems. They are among the most productive and biologically diverse habitats on the planet. By the 1980s, according to the Natural Heritage Reference Manual, 68 percent of the original wetlands south of the Precambrian Shield in Ontario had been lost through encroachment, land clearance, drainage and filling.

Wetlands perform a number of important ecological and hydrological functions and provide an array of social and economic benefits that society values. Maintaining wetland cover in a watershed provides many ecological, economic, hydrological and social benefits that are listed in the Reference Manual and which may include:

  • contributing to the stabilization of shorelines and to the reduction of erosion damage through the mitigation of water flow and soil binding by plant roots
  • mitigating surface water flow by storing water during periods of peak flow (such as spring snowmelt and heavy rainfall events) and releasing water during periods of low flow (this mitigation of water flow also contributes to a reduction of flood damage)
  • contributing to an improved water quality through the trapping of sediments, the removal and/or retention of excess nutrients, the immobilization and/or degradation of contaminants and the removal of bacteria
  • providing renewable harvesting of timber, fuel wood, fish, wildlife and wild rice
  • contributing to a stable, long-term water supply in areas of groundwater recharge and discharge
  • providing a high diversity of habitats that support a wide variety of plants and animals
  • acting as “carbon sinks” making a significant contribution to carbon storage
  • providing opportunities for recreation, education, research and tourism

Historically, the overall wetland coverage within the Great Lakes basin exceeded 10 percent, but there was significant variability among watersheds and jurisdictions, as stated in the Environment Canada Guideline. In the Rideau Valley Watershed, it has been estimated that pre-settlement wetland cover averaged 35 percent using information provided by Ducks Unlimited Canada (2010) versus the 21 percent of wetland cover existing in 2014 derived from DRAPE imagery analysis.

WetlandChangeTay-RiverTay-River---Glen-Tay-001-001
Figure 52 Wetland cover in the Glen Tay catchment (2014)
 

This decline in wetland cover is also evident in the Glen Tay catchment (as seen in Figure 52 and summarized in Table 11), where wetland was reported to cover 30 percent of the area prior to settlement, as compared to 15 percent in 2014. This represents a 49 percent loss of historic wetland cover. To maintain critical hydrological, ecological functions along with related recreational and economic benefits provided by these wetland habitats in the catchment, a “no net loss” of currently existing wetlands should be employed to ensure the continued provision of tangible benefits accruing from them to landowners and surrounding communities.

 
Table 11 Wetland cover in the Glen Tay catchment (Historic to 2014)
Wetland Cover Pre-settlement20082014Change - Historic to 2014
Area  Area  Area  Area  
Ha Percent Ha Percent Ha Percent Ha Percent 
Glen Tay1646308381584415-802-49
Tay Rivern/an/a15280191533019n/an/a
Rideau Valley13411535n/an/a8207621-52039-39

4.4 Shoreline Cover

The riparian or shoreline zone is that special area where the land meets the water. Well-vegetated shorelines are critically important in protecting water quality and creating healthy aquatic habitats, lakes and rivers. Natural shorelines intercept sediments and contaminants that could impact water quality conditions and harm fish habitat in streams. Well established buffers protect the banks against erosion, improve habitat for fish by shading and cooling the water and provide protection for birds and other wildlife that feed and rear young near water. A recommended target (from the Environment Canada Guideline) is to maintain a minimum 30 metre wide vegetated buffer along at least 75 percent of the length of both sides of rivers, creeks and streams.

Figure 53 shows the extent of the ‘Natural’ vegetated riparian zone (predominantly wetland/woodland features) and ‘Other’ anthropogenic cover (crop/pastureland, roads/railways, settlements) along a 30-metre-wide area of land, both sides of the shoreline of the Tay River and its tributaries in the Glen Tay catchment.

RiparianLandCoverwWetlandTay-RiverTay-River---Glen-Tay-001-001
Figure 53 Natural and other riparian land cover in the Glen Tay catchment (2014)
 

This analysis shows that the riparian zone in the Glen Tay catchment is composed of woodland (41 percent), wetland (37 percent), crop and pastureland (16 percent), settlement (two percent), meadow-thicket (two percent) and transportation routes (two percent). Along the many watercourses (including headwater streams) flowing into the Tay River, the riparian buffer is composed of wetland (40 percent), woodland (36 percent), crop and pastureland (19 percent), meadow-thicket (two percent), transportation routes (two percent) and settlement areas (one percent). Along the Tay River itself, the riparian zone is composed of woodland (49 percent), wetland (34 percent), settlement (nine percent), crop and pastureland (four percent), transportation routes (three percent) and meadow-thicket (one percent).

Additional statistics for the Glen Tay catchment are presented in Tables 12, 13 and 14 and show that there has been very little change in shoreline cover from 2008 to 2014.

Table 12 Riparian land cover in the Glen Tay catchment (2008 vs. 2014)
Riparian Land Cover20082014Change - 2008 to 2014
AreaAreaArea
Ha.Percent Ha.PercentHa.Percent
Woodland342.9740.69341.8140.55-1.16-0.14
Wetland312.6837.09313.1737.150.490.06
> Unevaluated(310.62)(36.85)(311.11)(36.91)(0.49)(0.06)
> Evaluated(2.06)(0.24)(2.06)(0.24)(0.00)(0.00)
Crop & Pasture133.4515.83134.1215.910.670.08
Settlement21.322.5321.322.530.000.00
Meadow-Thicket17.352.0617.352.060.000.00
Transportation15.151.8015.151.800.000.00
Table 13 Riparian land cover along the Tay River in the Glen Tay catchment (2008 vs. 2014)
Riparian Land Cover2008.002014.00Change - 2008 to 2014
AreaAreaArea
Ha.Percent Ha.PercentHa.Percent
Woodland60.6149.6060.3449.390.000.00
Wetland41.7134.1542.0034.000.000.00
> Unevaluated(40.09)(32.82)(40.34)(33.02)(0.00)(0.00)
> Evaluated(1.62)(1.33)(1.62)(1.33)(0.00)(0.00)
Settlement11.019.0111.019.010.000.00
Crop & Pasture5.044.135.064.140.000.00
Transportation3.032.483.032.480.000.00
Meadow-Thicket0.760.630.760.630.000.00
 
Table 14 Riparian land cover along streams in the Glen Tay catchment (2008 vs. 2014)
Riparian Land Cover20082014Change - 2008 to 2014
AreaAreaArea
Ha.Percent Ha.PercentHa.Percent
Wetland262.0739.61262.3139.640.240.03
> Unevaluated(261.64)(39.54)(261.88)(39.57)(0.24)(0.03)
> Evaluated(0.43)(0.07)(0.43)(0.07)(0.00)(0.00)
Woodland236.3335.71235.4435.58-0.89-0.13
Crop & Pasture127.7319.30128.3819.400.650.10
Meadow-Thicket13.292.0113.292.010.000.00
Transportation12.051.8212.061.820.010.00
Settlement10.301.5610.301.560.000.00

5.0 Glen Tay Catchment: Stewardship and Water Resources Protection

The RVCA and its partners are working to protect and enhance environmental conditions in the Tay River Watershed. Figure 54 shows the location of all stewardship projects completed in the Glen Tay catchment.

StewardshipTay-RiverTay-River---Glen-Tay-001-001
Figure 54 Stewardship site locations in the Glen Tay catchment
 

5.1 Rural Clean Water

The Rural Clean Water Program provides technical and financial assistance to farmers and other rural landowners, to aid in the implementation of projects that protect water quality. Funding is granted to those projects that support best management practices for application in the protection and improvement of surface and ground water resources.  The program also supports climate change adaptation and low impact development projects as well as educating rural landowners about environmental stewardship of private property. Examples of supported projects include livestock exclusion fencing, controlled tile drainage, cover crops, erosion control, well related projects, and many more. For a list of eligible projects and to apply for funding, see Rural Clean Water.

In the Glen Tay catchment from 2011 to 2016, two septic system repairs, one well decommissioning, one well upgrade, one well replacement and one leachate seepage control were completed; prior to this, nine septic system repairs, six well upgrades, four livestock fencing projects and two education initiatives had been completed. When combined, these projects are keeping 46.65 kilograms of Phosphorus out of our lakes, rivers and streams every year. Total value of all 27 projects is $137,761 with $44,442 of that amount funded through grant dollars from the RVCA.

5.2 Private Land Forestry

Forest cover and tree planting continues to be one of the most widely supported strategies to improve our environment. The many benefits of forest cover include carbon sequestration, flood mitigation and water quality improvement as well as providing wildlife habitat.

Through the RVCA's Trees for Tomorrow Program (and its predecessors), 5,800 trees were planted at one site from 2011 to 2016; prior to this, 33,850 trees were planted at six sites. In total, 39,650 trees have been planted resulting in the reforestation of 21 hectares. Total value of all seven projects in the Glen Tay catchment is $79,190 with $56,847 of that amount coming from fundraising sources. For more information about the Program and landowner eligibility, please see the following: Tree Planting in the Rideau Valley Watershed and Trees for Tomorrow.

An additional 65 butternut trees were planted through the RVCA Butternut Recovery Program as part of efforts to introduce healthy seedlings from tolerant butternuts into various locations across Eastern Ontario.

5.3 Shoreline Naturalization

Natural shoreline buffers rich in native plants are critically important to protecting the health of our lakes, rivers and streams. Shoreline vegetation protects water quality and aquatic habitat by intercepting potentially harmful contaminants such as nutrients, pollutants and sediment, regulating water temperatures, slowing runoff and providing important fish and wildlife habitat. Natural shorelines also help improve climate change resiliency by increasing flood storage and providing protection from erosion during extreme weather events.

As of the end of 2016, no shoreline projects had been carried out in the Glen Tay catchment. Landowners may wish to take advantage of the RVCA's Shoreline Naturalization Program to assist them with the naturalization of their shorelines to see the benefits noted above (and more).

5.4 Septic System Re-inspection

Septic system re-inspection is provided by the RVCA through the Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office at the request of Tay Valley Township. From 2004 to 2017, the service has performed 58 voluntary septic system re-inspections on 59 properties along the Tay River in the Glen Tay catchment .

Remedial/maintenance work (i.e. pump outs and baffle replacements that generally do not require a permit) was advocated for five of the septic systems inspected along with one septic system replacement. More information was requested by another landowner about ways to maintain and improve the operation of their septic system.

 

5.5 Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship Projects

Figure 54 shows the location of the Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship Program projects in the Glen Tay catchment. This Ministry of the Environment funded program has supported three projects between 2011 and 2016. Total project value is $70,751 with landowners receiving $35,362 in funding for three livestock fencing projects.

5.6 Valley, Stream, Wetland and Hazard Lands

The Glen Tay catchment covers 55.7 square kilometres with 5.4 square kilometres (or 9.7 percent) of the drainage area being within the regulation limit of Ontario Regulation 174/06 (Figure 55), giving protection to wetland areas and river or stream valleys that are affected by flooding and erosion hazards.

Wetlands occupy 8.4 square kilometres (or 15 percent) of the catchment. All are unevaluated/unregulated and not included within the RVCA regulation limit, except for a small 4 hectare area of the Grants Creek Provincially Significant Wetland.

Of the 137.5 kilometres of stream in the catchment, regulation limit mapping has been plotted along 34.5 kilometers of streams (representing 25 percent of all streams in the catchment). Plotting of the regulation limit on the remaining 103 kilometres (or 75 percent) of streams requires identification of flood and erosion hazards and valley systems.

Within those areas of the Glen Tay catchment subject to the regulation (limit), efforts (have been made and) continue through RVCA planning and regulations input and review to manage the impact of development (and other land management practices) in areas where “natural hazards” are associated with rivers, streams, valley lands and wetlands. For areas beyond the regulation limit, protection of the catchment’s watercourses is only provided through the “alteration to waterways” provision of the regulation.

RegulatedFeatureswIPZTay-RiverTay-River---Glen-Tay-001-001
Figure 55 Regulated natural features/hazards and Intake Protection Zones in the Glen Tay catchment
 

5.7 Vulnerable Drinking Water Areas

The Town of Perth’s municipal drinking water Intake Protection Zone (IPZ), specifically IPZ-2 with a vulnerability score of 8 and 9 is found within the Glen Tay catchment (Figure 55). As per the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Plan, policies may affect future development within these areas. Under Section 59 of the Clean Water Act, 2006, future applications under the Building Code and the Planning Act may be screened by the Mississippi-Rideau Risk Management Office. Depending on the proposed activity, additional requirements or restrictions may apply. For more information, please contact the Mississippi-Rideau Risk Management Office at (613) 692-3571.

In addition, the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Plan has mapped the northern part of the Glen Tay catchment as within a Significant Groundwater Recharge Area and identified all of the catchment as 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. Highly Vulnerable Aquifers characterise 89% of the Region and are considered moderate to low drinking water threats with certain policies that apply; mainly policies regarding waste disposal. All property owners are encouraged to use best management practices to protect sources of municipal drinking water. For more information on source protection best management practices, please visit Protecting Your Drinking Water.

6.0 Glen Tay Catchment: Accomplishments/Activities

Achievements noted by the Friends of the Tay Watershed Association (FoTW) are indicated by an asterisk.

In-stream/Fish Habitat

17.9 kilometres of the Tay River in the catchment have been surveyed and 19 headwaters sites are sampled once every six years by the RVCA using the Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol.

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 along the Tay River (see pp. 79-92).

Septic Inspections

58 voluntary septic system re-inspections have been conducted by the Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office on 59 properties in the Glen Tay catchment, as a service provided to Tay Valley Township since 2004.

Tree Planting

39,650 trees have been planted at seven sites in the Glen Tay catchment by the RVCA Private Land Forestry Program, resulting in the reforestation of 21 hectares.

Water Quality

Three stream monitoring sites in the Glen Tay catchment - two on the Tay River; one on the Scotts Snye - are sampled yearly by the RVCA for 22 parameters at each location, six times a year, to assess surface chemistry water quality conditions.

One Ontario Benthic Biomonitoring Network site on the Tay River in the Glen Tay catchment is sampled by the RVCA in the spring and fall of each year with three replicates, to assess instream biological water quality conditions.

Twenty-seven Clean Water projects were completed by the RVCA Rural Clean Water Program.

Water Taking

OMYA corporation reports annually to the public on its water-taking over the past 12 months - a condition of their Permit to Take Water (PTTW) for the withdrawal of water from the Tay River and company-owned wells. The taking of water began in accordance with the conditions outlined in the PTTW (and other permits) obtained in September 2003. At the first public meeting held to fulfil a condition of the water taking permit - to hold one public meeting in a calendar year to present a report on the company's water taking - there was great interest in the results presented by OMYA. Subsequent meetings have kept the community well-informed about its activities and adherence to the permit conditions, thus helping to alleviate public concerns about the water taking.

The Friends of the Tay Watershed Association help promote OMYA's report to the public about its water taking activities over the previous year.*

OMYA has installed a state-of-the-art digital water meter on the Tay River (one of the PTTW conditions). The data collected provides valuable information regarding Tay River water flows and facilitates future environmental and scientific study of the river.

Waterway Planning and Management

The Tay Watershed Management Plan (2002) brought together a diverse group of watershed stakeholders to exchange information and opinions on the challenges facing the watershed. This forum focused the community on the need for managing the Tay Watershed, requiring positive cooperation amongst a range of stakeholders and helped develop a foundation of data and information on the watershed and resources against which later developments and trends are being measured and decisions are being made. 

The Plan also led to the formation of the Friends of the Tay Watershed Association, who have been instrumental in implementing 20 of 24 management plan recommendations. In the opinion of the Association, one of the most significant measures of success for the water protection activities carried out in the Tay watershed is that there has never been a serious environmental pollution incident that threatened the area’s drinking water or its recreational waterbodies. To this day, the Friends of the Tay Watershed remain committed to preserving and enhancing the health of the Tay River watershed through their work.*

7.0 Glen Tay Catchment: Challenges/Issues

Development

More pressure for rural estate lot subdivision development in the catchment is likely due to the proximity of the catchment to the Town of Perth.

Headwaters/In-stream Habitat/Shorelines

Although headwater and tributary streams in the catchment have more than 75 percent naturally vegetated shoreline cover, the distribution of naturally vegetated shorelines is uneven (see Section 4.4 of this report).

Eleven of 19 sampled headwater stream sites have been modified (seven are channelized; four are ditched; see Section 3.4.2 of this report).  

Land Cover

Land cover has changed across the catchment (2008 to 2014) largely as a result of an increase in the area of wetland (7 ha.), settlement (5 ha.) and crop and pastureland (5 ha.) and loss of woodland (17 ha.)(see Section 4.1 of this report).

Wetlands have declined by forty-nine percent since European pre-settlement and now cover 15 percent (844 ha.) of the catchment (in 2014). Ninety-nine percent (840 ha.) of these wetlands remain unevaluated/unregulated and are 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

Surface chemistry water quality rating along the Tay River in the Glen Tay catchment is Good at the Glen Tay Road, Very Good at the Noonan Side Road and Good at the Upper Scotch Line Road along the Scotts Snye, a tributary of the Tay River. No apparent water quality concerns are reported for this reach of the Tay River (see Section 2.1 of this report).

Instream biological water quality condition in the Tay River is Excellent at the Bowes Side Road. Samples are dominated with benthic invertebrate species that are sensitive to high organic pollution levels, indicating that the water is unimpaired (see Section 3.3.1 of this report).

Five (of 58) Tay Valley Township voluntary septic system re-inspections conducted from 2004 to 2017 in the Glen Tay catchment revealed the need for additional maintenance/remedial work to be performed. Another inspection identified the need to replace the existing septic system. More information was supplied to one other landowner 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.

8.0 Glen Tay Catchment: Actions/Opportunities

Aquatic Habitat/Fisheries

Educate waterfront property owners about fish habitat requirements, spawning timing and near-shore and in-water activities that can disturb or destroy fish habitat and spawning sites.

Work with various partners, including landowners, Friends of the Tay Watershed Association and Rideau Lakes and Tay Valley Townships on fish habitat enhancement projects in the Tay River watershed, building off of new knowledge and the recommendations as described in the report "Fish Habitat of the Tay River Watershed: Existing Conditions and Opportunities for Enhancement" (2002) prepared by MNR, RVCA, Parks Canada, and DFO.

Remove equipment, garbage and debris from past milling operations that remain along the shoreline and on the bed of the Tay River at the site of the old Bowes Mill dam.

Development

Work with approval authorities (Lanark County, Leeds Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office, Rideau Lakes Township, RVCA and Tay Valley Townships) and landowners to consistently implement current land use planning and development policies for water quality and shoreline protection adjacent to the Tay River and headwater streams in the catchment (i.e., a minimum 30 metre development setback from water).

Explore ways and means to more effectively implement and enforce conditions of land-use planning and development approval to achieve net environmental gains (particularly with respect to rehabilitating or protecting naturally vegetated shorelines and water quality).

Encourage Committees of Adjustment to take advantage of technical and environmental information and recommendations forthcoming from planning and environmental professionals.

Ongoing education and dialogue regarding the regulatory floodplain, its implementation and the effect it has on development continues to represent an opportunity to assist the public in understanding the importance of planning, which respects this natural hazard.

Municipalities in the Tay Watershed are encouraged to strengthen natural heritage and water resources official plan policies and zoning provisions (pertaining to water setbacks, frontage and naturalized shorelines and wetland protection) where deemed appropriate.

Work with Rideau Lakes and Tay Valley Townships and agencies to ensure that development approvals along watercourses take into consideration the protection of fish habitat (including the near-shore nursery and spawning habitat).

Utilise RVCA subwatershed and catchment reports to help develop, revise and implement official plan policies to protect surface water resources and the natural environment (including woodlands, wetlands and shoreline cover).

 

Land Cover

Establish RVCA regulation limits around the 100 percent (840 ha.) of wetlands in the catchment that are unevaluated. Doing this will help protect landowners from natural hazards including  mitigating surface water flow by storing water during periods of peak flow (such as spring snowmelt and heavy rainfall events) and releasing water during periods of low flow (this mitigation of water flow reduces flood damage), as well as contributing to the stabilization of shorelines and to the reduction of soil erosion damage through water flow mitigation and plant soil binding/retention.

Shorelines

Take advantage of the RVCA Shoreline Naturalization Program to re-naturalize altered creek and stream shoreline identified in this report as “Unnatural Riparian Land Cover". Target shoreline restoration at sites on the Tay River and along its tributaries, shown in orange on the Riparian Land Cover map (see Figure 53 in Section 4.4 of this report). Other stewardship opportunities in the catchment may be determined based on septic system inspections and surface water quality monitoring results.

Promote the use of bioengineering methods (using native shrub/tree planting, fascines, live stakes) as a shoreline erosion mitigation measure as well as a cost effective alternative to shoreline hardening (with rip rap, armour stone, gabion baskets, walls).

Educate landowners about the value and importance of natural shorelines and property best management practices with respect to shoreline use and development, septic system installation and maintenance and shoreline vegetation retention and enhancement (Lanark County, Leeds Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office, Rideau Lakes Township, RVCA and Tay Valley Township).

Water Quality

Consider further investigation of the Fair instream biological water quality rating on the Tay River in the catchment as part of a review of RVCA's Baseline and Benthic Invertebrate surface water quality monitoring.

Offer funding provided by the RVCA Rural Clean Water Program to landowners with potential projects that could improve water quality on the Tay River and its tributaries (e.g., livestock fencing, septic system repair/replacement and streambank erosion control/stabilisation). Concentrate efforts at septic systems requiring remedial work or replacement, including the six identified as needing additional maintenance/remedial/replacement work since 2004.

Educate waterfront property owners about septic system care by providing information about sewage system maintenance (i.e., when to pump out septic systems and holding talks) through initiatives such as the Septic Savvy Workshop and services provided by the Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office.

Reduce pollutant loading to the Tay River in the catchment through education about the application of shoreline, stormwater and agricultural best management practices; also consider using low impact development (LID) methods to improve the quality and reduce the amount of stormwater runoff directly reaching the river ecosystem. This will be particularly beneficial in areas with extensive impervious surfaces (i.e., asphalt, concrete, buildings, and severely compacted soils) or on sensitive shoreline properties (with steep slopes/banks, shallow/impermeable soils).

 

Water Levels

The Friends of the Tay Watershed Association has developed the Tay Net (Tay Waterway Communication Network) over the past two years to provide early notice of significant changes in water level along the Tay River. Tay Net is now developing it into a ‘Riverwatch’ program for the waterway.