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6.0 Port Elmsley Catchment: Accomplishments/Activities

In-stream/Fish Habitat

Six 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 it to improve the fishery along the Tay River (see pp.93-100).

Tree Planting

44,530 trees have been planted at ten sites in the Port Elmsley catchment by the RVCA Private Land Forestry Program, resulting in the reforestation of 24 hectares.

Water Quality

The Town of Perth wastewater treatment facility is located on the south side of the Tay River, adjacent to the Tay Marsh. The outflow from the Perth sewage lagoons has impacted water downstream for decades. Outflow quality has, on the average, been within provincial limits, but inevitably has had an impact on the Tay Marsh and is one of (many) sources encouraging excessive vegetation growth in the wetland, which damages its fish and wildlife habitat. In response to concerns raised about the impact of the Town of Perth wastewater treatment facility on the Tay River and Tay Marsh, the Town has taken action over the years to reduce its effect on surface water quality in the system, which, from cursory observation has been beneficial, and more recently enhanced with an innovative phosphorus reduction system (per.comm.FoTW).

Two stream monitoring sites on the Tay River in the catchment are sampled yearly by the RVCA for 22 parameters at each location, six times a year, to assess surface chemistry water quality conditions. A decline in total phosphorus concentrations has been observed at both of these sites over the 2006-2017 period, which should be taken as a positive sign that cumulative changes on the landscape have benefited water quality conditions (including improvements made to the treatment of the Town of Perth's wastewater).

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

Nineteen Clean Water projects were completed by the RVCA Rural Clean Water Program.

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.