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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.


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).


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