Long Lake

Long Lake

Tay River Subwatershed Report 2017

Long Lake 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 Long Lake catchment.

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.

LandCoverTay-RiverLong-Lake-001-001

Figure 1 Land cover in the Long Lake catchment

1.0 Long Lake Catchment: Facts

1.1 General/Physical Geography

Drainage Area

86 square kilometres; occupies 11 percent of the Tay River subwatershed; two percent of the Rideau Valley watershed.

Geology/Physiography

Long Lake catchment resides within a transitionary area between the physiographic regions known as the Georgian Bay Fringe and the Algonquin Highlands. In the Tay River subwatershed, these ancient and hilly geologic regions are made up of such Precambrian rocks as marble, conglomerates, and dark or colour banded granite-like rocks. A veneer of glacial drift (glacial till, sand etc.) overlies the bedrock. 

Municipal Coverage

Central Frontenac Township: (86 km2; 100% of catchment)

Stream Length

All tributaries (including headwater streams): 178 km

1.2 Vulnerable Areas

Aquifer Vulnerability

 
Mississippi-Rideau Source Water Protection program has mapped two small areas in this catchment, to the centre and southwest, as a Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas 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 Long Lake catchment.

1.3 Conditions at a Glance

Fish Community/Thermal Regime

Warm and cool water recreational and baitfish fishery with 16 species observed in Stag, Stub and Uens Creek during 2016.

Headwater Features

Dominated by wetland and natural features with a few features that have been straightened, historically. 

Instream/Riparian Habitat

Stub and Uens CreekLow to high habitat complexity with increased habitat complexity observed in the upper reaches of each system within the catchment.  Dissolved oxygen conditions on Uens Creek in the upper reach fall below the guideline to support warmwater aquatic biota; however, sections in the middle and lower reaches are acceptable for warmwater species. Stub Creek results show sections in the lower and upper reaches within the threshold to support warmwater aquatic biota; however, its middle reach falls below the recommended threshold to support warmwater aquatic biota.

Land Cover Type (2014)

Catchment Woodland Wetland Water Crop-Pasture Meadow-Thicket Transportation Settlement
Percent 61 21 6 6 3 2 1

Land Cover Change (2008 to 2014)

Catchment Woodland Settlement
Hectares -2 +2

Shoreline Cover Type (30 m. riparian area; 2014)

Catchment Percent Carnahan Lake  Percent Long Lake    Percent Streams* Percent
Wetland 46 Woodland 95 Woodland 56  Wetland 52
Woodland 42 Settlement 2 Settlement 23 Woodland 37
Crop-Pasture 6 Wetland 2 Wetland 12 Crop-Pasture 7
Settlement 2 Transportation 1 Transportation 6 Transportation 2
Meadow-Thicket 2 --- --- Crop-Pasture 3 Meadow-Thicket 1
Transportation     2 --- --- --- --- Settlement 1

* (includes Stag, Stubb, Uens Creek)

Significant Natural Features

Long Lake Blue Calcite Provincial Area of Natural and Scientific Interest, Earth Science.

Species at Risk (Elemental Occurrence)

Status Species at Risk
Endangered American Ginseng Henslow's Sparrow Northern Myotis Spotted Turtle
Threatened     Blanding's Turtle Bobolink Eastern Whip-poor-will ---
Special Concern Snapping Turtle --- --- ---

Water Quality for the Protection of Aquatic Life (2006 to 2017)

Carnahan Lake Long Lake Stub Creek Uens Creek
Poor to Fair Fair to Good Good Fair

Water Wells

Approximately 200 operational private water wells in the Long Lake catchment. Groundwater uses are mainly domestic but also include livestock water supplies.

1.4 Catchment Care

Environmental Management

Three Environmental Compliance Approvals were sought in the catchment for private water supplies and sewage works.

Environmental Monitoring

Chemical surface (in-stream/lake) water quality collection by the RVCA since 2003 (see Section 2).

Fish survey and stream characterization survey by the RVCA on Stag, Stub and Uens Creek in 2016 included taking measurements and recording observations on instream habitat, bank stability, other attributes and preparing a temperature profile (see Section 3).

Thirty-three drainage feature assessments were conducted by the RVCA in 2016 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).

Classification of Long Lake 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).

Groundwater chemistry information is available from the Ontario Geological Survey for one well (#13-AG-001) located in the catchment.

Stewardship

Two stewardship projects were completed by landowners with assistance from the RVCA (see Section 5).

2.0 Long Lake Catchment: Water Quality Conditions

Surface water quality conditions in the Long Lake catchment are monitored by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority’s (RVCA) Watershed Watch Program and Baseline Water Quality Monitoring Program.  Watershed Watch monitors watershed lakes to assess nutrient concentrations, water clarity, dissolved oxygen availability and pH. The baseline water quality program focuses on streams; data is collected for 22 parameters including nutrients (total phosphorus, total Kjeldahl nitrogen and ammonia), 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-RiverLong-Lake-001-001
Figure 2 Water quality monitoring sites on Carnahan Lake, Long Lake, Stubbs Creek and Uens Creek

Water Quality Rating in the Long Lake Catchment

The water quality ratings scored high across this catchment and ranges from " Poor to Good" (Table 1).  All ratings were determined by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Water Quality Index. A “Poor” rating indicates that water quality is frequently threatened or impaired; conditions often depart from natural or desirable levels.  A "Fair" rating indicates that water quality is usually protected but is occasionally threatened or impaired; conditions sometimes depart from natural or desirable levels. A rating of "Good" indicates that only a minor degree of threat or impairment is observed and conditions rarely depart from natural or desirable 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.

Table 1 Water Quality Index ratings for the Long Lake Catchment
SiteLocation 2006-20082009-20112012-20142015-2017
DP1Long LakeGood (88)Fair (65)Fair (77)Fair (76)
DP1Carnahan LakeFair (76)Fair (65)Poor (53)Fair (77)
STU-01Stubbs Creek at Babcock RdFair (74)Fair (73)Good (82)Good (82)
UEN-01Uens Creek at Babcock RdFair (70)Poor (59)Fair (69)Fair (72)
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 Carnahan Lake Water Quality

Surface water quality conditions in Carnahan Lake have been monitored by RVCA’s Watershed Watch Program since 2004. Data from the deep point site (DP1) have been used to calculate the WQI rating for Carnahan Lake, which averaged “Poor-Fair” over the 2006-2017 period (Table 1). Moderate nutrient concentrations, periods of limited oxygen availability and generally clear water all influenced this rating. The following discussion explains how each of the monitored water quality parameters contributes to the lake’s water quality.

This report also considers data from five additional shoreline sites that are monitored around the lake. These sites have not been included in the calculation of the CCME WQI rating, as they are not monitored with the same frequency as the deep point site. However, they do provide important information on water quality conditions in the near shore areas. For locations of shoreline sites (A-E) please see Figure 2.  

2.1.1. Carnahan Lake Nutrients

Total phosphorus (TP) is used as a primary indicator of excessive nutrient loading and contributes 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 lakes, concentrations greater than 0.020 mg/l indicate an excessive amount of TP within the water column. Concentrations below 0.010 mg/l are generally considered to be minimal and unlikely to have problems associated with nutrient loading.

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

Carnahan Lake at the Deep Point

TP and TKN sampling results collected by the RVCA are presented in Figures 3 to 6. Some variability has occurred in the sampled TP concentrations at this site (Figures 3 and 4); no significant trend[2] was observed in the 2006-2017 data set. Eighty percent of samples analyzed for TP were less than the TP guideline and the average concentration was 0.015 mg/l (Table 3).  TKN concentration also showed variability, as with TP concentrations no significant change was observed (Figures 5 and 6).  Sixty-eight percent of reported results were below the TKN guideline and the average TKN concentration was 0.460 mg/l (Table 3).

Overall, the data presented indicates that nutrient concentration may be considered moderate with occasional exceedances in the mid-lake, deep water site on Carnahan Lake.

 
Figure 3 Average total phosphorus concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017.
Figure 3 Average total phosphorus concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017.
Figure 3 Average total phosphorus concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017. Figure 4 Distribution of total phosphorus concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Carn
Figure 4 Distribution of total phosphorus concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017.
 
Figure 5 Average total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017.
Figure 5 Average total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017.
Figure 6 Distribution of total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017.
Figure 6 Distribution of total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017.
 
Table 3 Summary of nutrient results for Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017
Total Phosphorous 2006-2017
SiteAverage (mg/l)Below Guideline No. Samples 
DP10.01580%44
Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen 2006-2017
SiteAverage (mg/l)Below Guideline No. Samples 
DP10.46068%44
Nutrients around Carnahan Lake

The average nutrient concentrations at monitored shoreline sites around the lake vary from year to year (Figures 7 and 8). Please note that in the 2006-2017 monitoring period sites A,C and E were monitored yearly; while sites B and D were only sampled in 2009 and 2014.

Average total phosphorous concentrations are below the TP guideline at the majority of sites throughout the monitoring period, with the exception of site A (Figure 7). This site monitors a shallow bay with inflow from a small creek.  This creek runs through a significant wetland area and is likely bringing in naturally released nutrients from upstream. The low concentrations of TP at other monitored sites (Figure 7) provide support that nutrient loading is not a significant problem around the lake.

A similar pattern is observed in TKN data, specifically elevated concentrations at site A (Figure 8). Elevated results were also observed at all sites in 2009, this may be due to an external factor such as weather conditions that influenced the lake at the time of sampling.

Figure 7 Average total phosphorous concentrations at shoreline monitoring sites on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017
Figure 7 Average total phosphorous concentrations at shoreline monitoring sites on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017
Figure 8 Average total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations at shoreline monitoring sites on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017
Figure 8 Average total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations at shoreline monitoring sites on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017
 
 
Summary of Carnahan Lake Nutrients

Carnahan Lake nutrient concentrations are generally below the guidelines.  It is possible that occasional problems with nutrient enrichment (i.e. algal blooms or excessive plant growth) may be observed in some shallow, sheltered bays.

Efforts such as the diversion of runoff and enhanced shoreline buffers are important to continue to protect and enhance water quality, and reduce future nutrient increases-particularly in developed areas. Nutrient exceedances may be partially attributed to the natural aging of a lake and basin characteristics. All residents can help minimize their impact on the lake by reducing nutrient inputs through practices such as proper maintenance of septic systems, keeping shorelines natural and using phosphate free soaps and detergents. Promotion of sound stewardship and protection around lake is important to maintain and protect water quality conditions into the future.

 

2.1.2 Carnahan Lake Water Clarity

Water clarity is measured using a Secchi disk during each deep point sample. Table 4 summarizes the recorded depths with an average depth of 3.2 m and shows that 93 percent readings have exceeded the minimum PWQO of 2 m; indicating that algae in the water column is not at excessive levels (good water clarity). Less than 2 m will indicate overproduction in a lake or significant inputs to the water column that are limiting light availability. Figure 9 shows that measured depths range from 1.9 m to 5 m. No significant change was noted in Secchi depth over the 2006-2017 period.

Table 4 Summary of Secchi depths recorded at the deep point sites (DP1) on Carnahan Lake
Secchi 2006-2017
SiteAverage (m)Above GuidelineNo. Samples 
DP13.293%43
 
Figure 9 Recorded Secchi depths at the deep point site on Long Lake, 2006-2017
Figure 9 Recorded Secchi depths at the deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017
 
Summary of Carnahan Lake Water Clarity

Waters in Carnahan Lake are usually clear and sufficient sunlight is able to penetrate the water column to support aquatic life and provide sufficient visibility for safe recreational use (boating, swimming).

 

2.1.3 Carnahan Lake Fish Habitat

Two other factors, dissolved oxygen/temperature and pH were also assessed to provide an overall sense of the health of Carnahan Lake from a fish habitat perspective.

 

2.1.3.1 Carnahan Lake Dissolved Oxygen and Temperature

The red bars in Figure 10 show the depths where suitable conditions exist for warm water fish species (temperature less than 25°C and dissolved oxygen greater than 4 mg/l) at the deep point site. The vertical axis represents the total lake depth at each site where the profile is taken. Suitable conditions typically were observed over the monitoring periods to about 5 m of the water column. Periods of very limited conditions were observed in the summers of 2009-2013, due to very warm water temperatures in the upper portion of the water column and depleted oxygen conditions at the deeper depths. Overall, no significant change was noted in conditions through the 2006-2017 period.

Figure 10 Depths suitable for warm water fish species at deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017.
Figure 10 Depths suitable for warm water fish species at deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.1.3.2 Carnahan Lake pH

All samples (Figure 11) were within guidelines established by the Canadian Council of Minister's of the Environment which state that pH should be between 6.5 and 9 to protect aquatic life (Table 5). Biological activities such as increased photosynthesis from algal blooms and plant growth may influence pH in addition to anthropogenic activities.

 

Figure 11 pH concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017
Figure 11 pH concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017
 
 
Table 5 Summary of pH results at the deep point site (DP1) on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017
pH 2006-2017
SiteAverage (mg/l)Within Guideline No. Samples 
DP17.7100%39
Summary of Water Quality for Fish Habitat in Carnahan Lake 

Overall the water chemistry data at the deep point describes suitable habitat conditions for warm water fish species. pH conditions are within the range recommended for the protection of aquatic life. Overall, the data indicates a healthy environment for aquatic species.

2.1.4 Carnahan Lake E. Coli

E. coli is sampled at monitored shoreline sites twice each sampling season. E. coli data was not used in the calculations of the WQI rating for the lake due to differences in sampling frequency and site locations. E. coli data has been summarized in Table 10.  

Throughout the 2006-2017 period all of samples collected by RVCA were below the E. coli guideline of 100 colony forming units (CFU) per 100 ml set by the PWQO; across the lake the count at the geometric mean was 4 CFU/100ml (Table 6). This provides support that there is little indication of bacterial contamination around the lake.  Figure 12 show the distribution of counts across all shoreline sites. Counts at site A are elevated compared to other sites, this can likely be attributed to wildlife presence rather than bacterial pollution.

Table 6 Summary of E. coli results for Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017.
E. coli 2006-2017
SiteGeometric mean (CFU/100ml)Below Guideline No. Samples 
A-E894%89
Figure 12 E. coli counts at monitored shoreline sites on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017
Figure 12 E. coli counts at monitored shoreline sites on Carnahan Lake, 2006-2017
 
Summary of Bacterial Contamination 

The results presented above indicate that bacterial contamination is not a significant concern in Carnahan Lake and the water should be safe for recreational use such as swimming and boating.

 

2.2 Long Lake Water Quality

Surface water quality conditions in Long Lake have been monitored by RVCA’s Watershed Watch Program since 2004. Data from the deep point site (DP1) have been used to calculate the WQI rating for Long Lake, which averaged “Fair-Good” over the 2006-2017 period (Table 1). Low-moderate nutrient concentrations, periods of limited oxygen availability and generally clear water all influenced this rating. The following discussion explains how each of the monitored water quality parameters contributes to the lake’s water quality.

This report also considers data from 10 additional shoreline sites that are monitored around the lake. These sites have not been included in the calculation of the CCME WQI rating, as they are not monitored with the same frequency as the deep point site. However, they do provide important information on water quality conditions in the near shore areas. For locations of shoreline sites (A-J) please see Figure 2.  

2.2.1 Long Lake Nutrients

Total phosphorus (TP) is used as a primary indicator of excessive nutrient loading and contributes 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 lakes, concentrations greater than 0.020 mg/l indicate an excessive amount of TP within the water column. Concentrations below 0.010 mg/l are generally considered to be minimal and unlikely to have problems associated with nutrient loading.

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

Nutrients at the Long Lake Deep Point

TP and TKN sampling results collected by the RVCA are presented in Figures 13 to 16. Some variability has occurred in the sampled TP concentrations at this site (Figures 13 and 14); no significant trend[2] was observed in the 2006-2017 data set. Eighty-seven percent of samples analyzed for TP were less than the TP guideline and the average concentration was 0.014 mg/l (Table 7).  TKN concentrations were fairly consistent, as with TP concentrations no significant change was observed (Figures 15 and 16).  Eighty-seven percent of reported results were below the TKN guideline and the average TKN concentration was 0.416 mg/l (Table 7).

Overall, the data presented indicates that nutrient concentration may be considered moderate with occasional exceedances in the mid-lake, deep water site on Long Lake.

 
Figure 13 Average total phosphorus concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017. Figure 14 Distribution of total phosphorus concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Long L
Figure 13 Average total phosphorus concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017.
Figure 14 Distribution of total phosphorus concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017.
Figure 14 Distribution of total phosphorus concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017.
 
Figure 15 Average total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017.
Figure 15 Average total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017.
Figure 16 Distribution of total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017.
Figure 16 Distribution of total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017.
 
Table 7 Summary of nutrient results for Long Lake, 2006-2017
Total Phosphorous 2006-2017
SiteAverage (mg/l)Below Guideline No. Samples 
DP10.01487%45
Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen 2003-2008
SiteAverage (mg/l)Below Guideline No. Samples 
DP10.41687%45
Nutrients around Long Lake

The average nutrient concentrations at monitored shoreline sites around the lake vary from year to year (Figures 17 and 18). Please note that in the 2006-2017 monitoring period sites B, E, F and H were monitored yearly; while sites A, C, D, G, I and J were only sampled in 2009 and 2014.

Average total phosphorous concentrations are below the TP guideline at the majority of sites throughout the monitoring period (Figure 17), periods of elevated results were observed at site E in 2011, 2013 and 2017, site F in 2009 and site B in 2014. These three sites (E, F an B) are not persistently elevated therefore these few elevated samples are not likely to be of great concern. The low concentrations of TP at other monitored sites (Figure 17) provide support that nutrient loading is not a significant problem around the lake.

A similar pattern is observed in TKN data, specifically elevated concentrations at site E in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2017 (Figure 18). Site E is at the outflow of lake, elevated counts may indicated higher loads associated with wet weather years.

Figure 17 Average total phosphorous concentrations at shoreline monitoring sites on Long Lake, 2006-2017
Figure 17 Average total phosphorous concentrations at shoreline monitoring sites on Long Lake, 2006-2017
Figure 18 Average total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations at shoreline monitoring sites on Long Lake, 2006-2017
Figure 18 Average total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations at shoreline monitoring sites on Long Lake, 2006-2017
 
 
Summary of Long Lake Nutrients

Long Lake nutrient concentrations are generally below the guidelines.  It is possible that occasional problems with nutrient enrichment (i.e. algal blooms or excessive plant growth) may be observed in some shallow, sheltered bays.

Efforts such as the diversion of runoff and enhanced shoreline buffers are important to continue to protect and enhance water quality, and reduce future nutrient increases-particularly in developed areas. Nutrient exceedances may be partially attributed to the natural aging of a lake and basin characteristics. All residents can help minimize their impact on the lake by reducing nutrient inputs through practices such as proper maintenance of septic systems, keeping shorelines natural and using phosphate free soaps and detergents. Promotion of sound stewardship and protection around lake is important to maintain and protect water quality conditions into the future.

 

2.2.2 Long Lake Water Clarity

Water clarity is measured using a Secchi disk during each deep point sample. Table 8 summarizes the recorded depths with an average depth of 3.1 m and shows that 80 percent readings have exceeded the minimum PWQO of 2 m; indicating that algae in the water column is not at excessive levels (good water clarity). Less than 2 m will indicate overproduction in a lake or significant inputs to the water column that are limiting light availability. Figure 19 shows that measured depths range from 1.5 m to 4.6 m. A decline was observed in Secchi depths over the 2006-2017 data set, meaning that clarity in the water column has been reduced in this period.

Table 8 Summary of Secchi depths recorded at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake
Secchi 2006-2017
SiteAverage (m)Above GuidelineNo. Samples 
DP13.180%44
 
Figure 19 Recorded Secchi depths at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017
Figure 19 Recorded Secchi depths at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017
 
Summary of Long Lake Water Clarity

Waters in Long Lake are usually clear and sufficient sunlight is able to penetrate the water column to support aquatic life and provide sufficient visibility for safe recreational use (boating, swimming).

 

2.2.3 Long Lake Fish Habitat

Two other factors, dissolved oxygen/temperature and pH were also assessed to provide an overall sense of the health of Long Lake from a fish habitat perspective.

 

2.2.3.1 Long Lake Dissolved Oxygen and Temperature

The red bars in Figure 20 show the depths where suitable conditions exist for warm water fish species (temperature less than 25°C and dissolved oxygen greater than 4 mg/l) at the deep point site. The vertical axis represents the total lake depth at each site where the profile is taken. Suitable conditions typically were observed over the monitoring periods to about 8 m of the water column. Periods of very limited conditions were observed in the summers of 2009-2013, due to very warm water temperatures in the upper portion of the water column and depleted oxygen conditions at the deeper depths. Overall, no significant change was noted in conditions through the 2006-2017 period.

Figure 20 Depths suitable for warm water fish species at deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017.
Figure 20 Depths suitable for warm water fish species at deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017.
 

2.2.3.2 Long Lake pH

All samples (Figure 21) were within guidelines established by the Canadian Council of Minister's of the Environment which state that pH should be between 6.5 and 9 to protect aquatic life (Table 9). Biological activities such as increased photosynthesis from algal blooms and plant growth may influence pH in addition to anthropogenic activities.

Figure 21 pH concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017

Figure 21 pH concentrations at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017
 
 
Table 9 Summary of pH results at the deep point site (DP1) on Long Lake, 2006-2017
pH 2006-2017
SiteAverage (mg/l)Within Guideline No. Samples 
DP17.8100%41
Summary of Water Quality for Fish Habitat in Long Lake

Overall the water chemistry data at the deep point describes suitable habitat conditions for warm water fish species. pH conditions are within the range recommended for the protection of aquatic life. Overall, the data indicates a healthy environment for aquatic species..

2.2.4 Long Lake E. Coli

E. coli is sampled at monitored shoreline sites twice each sampling season. E. coli data was not used in the calculations of the WQI rating for the lake due to differences in sampling frequency and site locations. E. coli data has been summarized in Table 10.  

Throughout the 2006-2017 period all samples collected by RVCA were below the E. coli guideline of 100 colony forming units (CFU) per 100 ml set by the PWQO; across the lake the count at the geometric mean was 4 CFU/100ml (Table 6). This provides support that there is little indication of bacterial contamination around the lake.  Figure 22 show the distribution of counts across all shoreline sites.

Table 10 Summary of E. coli results for Long Lake, 2006-2017.
E. coli 2006-2017
SiteGeometric mean (CFU/100ml)Below Guideline No. Samples 
DP14100%137
Figure 22 E. coli counts at monitored shoreline sites on Long Lake, 2006-2017
Figure 22 E. coli counts at monitored shoreline sites on Long Lake, 2006-2017
 
Summary of Long Lake Bacterial Contamination

The results presented above indicate that bacterial contamination is not a significant concern in Long Lake and the water should be safe for recreational use such as swimming and boating.

 

2.3 Stubb Creek Water Quality

There is one water quality monitoring site on Stubb Creek (STU-01)  (Figure 2). Water quality was determined to be “Good” (Table 1). The score at this site was largely influenced by occasionally elevated nutrient concentrations, iron and bacterial counts. For more information on the CCME WQI, please see the Tay River Subwatershed Report 2017.

2.3.1 Stubb Creek 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 a secondary indicator of nutrient loading. RVCA uses a guideline of 0.500 mg/l to assess TKN[1].

Tables 11 and 12 summarize average nutrient concentrations at the monitored sites within the Stubb Creek catchment and show the proportion of results that met the guidelines.

Table 11 Summary of total phosphorus results for Stubb Creek, 2006-2017.Highlighted values indicate average concentrations exceed the guideline
Total Phosphorus 2006-2017
SiteAverage (mg/l)Below GuidelineNo. Samples
STU-010.04072%75
Table 12 Summary of total Kjeldahl nitrogen results for Stubb Creek, 2006-2017. Highlighted values indicate average concentrations exceed the guideline
Total Kjeldahl nitrogen 2006-2017
SiteAverage (mg/l)Below GuidelineNo. Samples
STU-010.69529%75
 
Monitoring Site STU-01

Elevated TP results occurred occasionally at site STU-01 throughout the monitoring period; 72% of samples were below the guideline (Figure 24) and average concentrations are variable across the sampled months (Figure 23). Please note a significantly high sample in May of 2010 (Figure 24) has had a strong influence of the average May results (Figure 23) through the monitoring period.  The average TP concentration was above the guideline of 0.030 mg/l at 0.040mg/l (Table 11). 

The majority of TKN results have exceeded the guideline (Figure 26), 29 percent of samples below the guideline. The average concentration was 0.695 mg/l and exceeded the guideline of 0.500 mg/l (Table 12). As with the TP data set, an elevated sample in May 2010 (Figure 26) has a strong influence on the monthly average for May (Figure 25), average monthly samples generally exceed the guideline with the exception of April and November.

There was no significant change[2] in the sampled concentrations of TP or TKN at this site over the 2006-2017 period (Figure 24 and 26).

 

 
 
Figure 23  Average monthly total phosphorus concentrations in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 23  Average monthly total phosphorus concentrations in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 24  Distribution of total phosphorus concentrations in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 24  Distribution of total phosphorus concentrations in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017.
 
  
Figure 25  Average monthly total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 25  Average monthly total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 26  Distribution of total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017
Figure 26  Distribution of total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017
 
 
Summary of Stubb Creek Nutrients 

The data shows that periods of elevated nutrients occur occasionally in Stubb Creek. Elevated nitrogen is likely due to the influence of surrounding wetland areas, wetlands are naturally rich in nitrogen and appear to be contributing to the concentrations in this creek. Though this is likely to be a natural condition it is important to reduce human impacts wherever possible. Strategies to reduce nutrient inputs may include diversion of runoff to the creek from surrounding developed areas (i.e. roadways) and enhanced shoreline buffers.

2.3.2 Stubb Creek Escherichia 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 as a guideline. E. coli counts greater than this guideline indicate that bacterial contamination may be a problem within a waterbody.

Table 13 summarizes the geometric mean[3] for the monitored site on Stubb Creek 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 for the 2006-2017 period are shown in Figures 27 and 28.

Table 13 Summary of E. coli results for Stubb Creek, 2006-2017
E. coli 2006-2017
SiteGeometric Mean (CFU/100ml)Below GuidelineNo. Samples
STU-015271%75
Monitoring Site STU-01

E. coli counts at site STU-01 show that there has been no significant trend in bacterial counts (Figure 28). The count at the geometric mean was 52 (Table 13), and majority of results (71 percent) were below the E. coli guideline.  Figure 27 shows that counts are generally highest from May to October; this can likely be attributed to warm weather and reduced flow conditions, the geometric mean did not exceed the guideline in any of the sampled months.

 

Figure 27  Geometric mean of monthly E. coli counts in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017
Figure 27  Geometric mean of monthly E. coli counts in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017
Figure 27  Geometric mean of monthly E. coli counts in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017 Figure 28  Distribution of E. coli counts in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017
Figure 28  Distribution of E. coli counts in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017
 
Summary of Stubb Creek Bacterial Contamination

Bacterial contamination does not appear to be a significant concern in Stubb Creeks.  As indicated by Figure 28 occasional exceedances above the guideline of 100 CFU/100ml have been observed. Best management practices such as enhancing shoreline buffers, limiting livestock access and minimizing runoff in both rural and developed areas can help to protect Stubb Creek into the future.

2.3.3 Stubb Creek Metals

Of the metals routinely monitored in Stubb Creek iron (Fe) occasionally reported concentrations above its respective Provincial Water Quality Objective of 0.300 mg/l.  In elevated concentrations, this metal can have toxic effects on sensitive aquatic species.

Table 14 summarizes Fe concentrations within the creek as well as show the proportion of samples that meet guidelines. Figures 29 and 30 show Fe concentrations with respect to the guidelines for the monitoring period, 2006-2017. 

Table 14 Summary of iron results in Stubb Creek from 2006-2017. Highlighted values indicate average concentrations exceed the guideline.
Iron 2006-2017
SiteAverage (mg/l)Below GuidelineNo. Samples
STU-010.71137%27
 
Monitoring Site STU-01

The average Fe concentrations in site STU-01 was 0.711 mg/l and exceeded the guideline (PWQO). Thirty-seven percent of samples were below the guideline and there was no significant change in Fe concentrations across the monitoring period (Table 14, Figure 30).  Monthly concentrations were elevated through the summer months, with the highest concentrations observed in September (Figure 30).

 

Figure 29  Average monthly iron concentrations in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 29  Average monthly iron concentrations in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 30  Distribution of iron concentrations in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017
Figure 30  Distribution of iron concentrations in Stubb Creek, 2006-2017.
 
Summary of Stubb Creek Metals

In Stubb Creek there is evidence of increased metal concentration above respective guidelines, it is quite likely that they are naturally occurring from groundwater inputs. Even so, continued efforts should be made to protect against possible pollution sources and implement best management practices to reduce any inputs such as storm water runoff from hardened surfaces to improve overall stream health and lessen downstream impacts. 

2.4 Uens Creek Water Quality

There is one water quality monitoring site on Uens Creek (UEN-01)  (Figure 1). Water quality was determined to be “Fair” (Table 1). The score at this site was largely influenced by frequently elevated nutrient concentrations, as well as elevated iron and bacterial counts. For more information on the CCME WQI, please see the Tay River Subwatershed Report 2017.

2.4.1 Uens Creek 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 a secondary indicator of nutrient loading. RVCA uses a guideline of 0.500 mg/l to assess TKN[1].

Tables 15 and 16 summarize average nutrient concentrations at the monitored site on Uen's Creek and show the proportion of results that met the guidelines.

Table 15 Summary of total phosphorus results for Uen Creek, 2006-2017.Highlighted values indicate average concentrations exceed the guideline
Total Phosphorus 2006-2017
SiteAverage (mg/l)Below GuidelineNo. Samples
UEN-010.04738%77
 
Table 16 Summary of total Kjeldahl nitrogen results for the Uen Creek, 2006-2017. Highlighted values indicate average concentrations exceed the guideline
Total Kjeldahl nitrogen 2006-2017
SiteAverage (mg/l)Below GuidelineNo. Samples
UEN-010.8608%75
 
Monitoring Site UEN-01

Elevated TP results occurred regularly at site UEN-01 throughout the 2006-2017 period; only 38% of samples were below the guideline (Figure 32),  average concentrations increased throughout the summer months and into the early fall (Figure 31). Please note a significantly high sample in October 2013 (Figure 32) has had a strong influence of the average October results (Figure 31) through the monitoring period.  The average TP concentration was above the guideline of 0.030 mg/l at 0.047 mg/l (Table 15). 

The majority of TKN results have exceeded the guideline (Figure 34), very few samples (8 percent) were below the guideline. The average concentration was 0.860 mg/l and exceeded the guideline of 0.500 mg/l (Table 16). Concentrations appear to be the lowest in the early spring and increase through the summer months (Figure 33).

There was no significant change[2] in the sampled concentrations of TP or TKN at this site over the 2006-2017 period (Figure 32 and 34).

 

 
 
Figure 31  Average monthly total phosphorus concentrations in Uen Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 31  Average monthly total phosphorus concentrations in Uen Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 32  Distribution of total phosphorus concentrations in Uen Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 32  Distribution of total phosphorus concentrations in Uen Creek, 2006-2017.
 
  
Figure 33  Average monthly total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in Uen Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 33  Average monthly total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in Uen Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 34  Distribution of total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in Uen Creek, 2006-2017
Figure 34  Distribution of total Kjeldahl nitrogen concentrations in Uen Creek, 2006-2017
 
 
           
Summary of Uens Creek Nutrients

Results of  the monitored site on Uen Creek shows that periods of nutrient enrichment is a feature of this creek, particularly with respect to nitrogen. Elevated nutrients may result in nutrient loading downstream. 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.  Development in this area is also minimal but best management practices such as minimizing storm water runoff, enhanced shoreline buffers, minimizing/discontinuing the use of fertilizers and restricting livestock access in both surrounding agricultural and developed areas can help to reduce additional nutrient enrichment both within this creek.  

2.4.2 Uens Creek Escherichia 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 as a guideline. E. coli counts greater than this guideline indicate that bacterial contamination may be a problem within a waterbody.

Table 17 summarizes the geometric mean[3] for the monitored site on Uen Creek 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 for the 2006-2017 period are shown in Figures 35 and 36.

Table 17 Summary of E. coli results for Uen Creek, 2006-2017
E. coli 2012-2017
SiteGeometric Mean (CFU/100ml)Below GuidelineNo. Samples
UEN-014174%76
Monitoring Site UEN-01

E. coli counts at site UEN-01 show that there has been no significant trend in bacterial counts (Figure 36). The count at the geometric mean was 41 (Table 17), and majority of results (74 percent) were below the E. coli guideline.  Figure 35 shows that counts are generally highest during the summer months; this can likely be attributed to warm weather and reduced flow conditions, the geometric mean did not exceed the guideline in any of the sampled months.

 

Figure 35  Geometric mean of monthly E. coli counts in Uen Creek, 2006-2017
Figure 35  Geometric mean of monthly E. coli counts in Uen Creek, 2006-2017
Figure 36  Distribution of E. coli counts in Uen Creek, 2006-2017
Figure 36  Distribution of E. coli counts in Uen Creek, 2006-2017
 
Summary of Uens Creek Bacterial Contamination

Bacterial contamination does not appear to be a significant concern in Uen Creeks.  As indicated by Figure 36 occasional exceedances above the guideline of 100 CFU/100ml have been observed. Best management practices such as enhancing shoreline buffers, limiting livestock access and minimizing runoff in both rural and developed areas can help to protect Uen Creek into the future.

2.4.3 Uens Creek Metals

Of the metals routinely monitored in Uen Creek iron (Fe) occasionally reported concentrations above its respective Provincial Water Quality Objective of 0.300 mg/l.  In elevated concentrations, this metal can have toxic effects on sensitive aquatic species.

Table 18 summarizes Fe concentrations within the creek as well as show the proportion of samples that meet guidelines. Figures 37 and 38 show Fe concentrations with respect to the guidelines for the monitoring period, 2006-2017. 

Table 18 Summary of iron results in Uen Creek from 2006-2017. Highlighted values indicate average concentrations exceed the guideline.
Iron 2006-2017
SiteAverage (mg/l)Below GuidelineNo. Samples
UEN-011.3925%28
 
Monitoring Site UEN-01

The average Fe concentrations in site UEN-01 was 1.390 mg/l and exceeded the guideline (PWQO).  Only 25 percent of samples were below the guideline and there was no significant change in Fe concentrations across the monitoring period (Table 18, Figure 38).  Monthly concentrations are highly influenced by samples in May 2010 and August 2012 (Figures 37 and 38).  The majority of samples analyzed for metals have been collected in April and August to capture metal concentrations in high and low flow conditions.

 

Figure 37  Average monthly iron concentrations in Uen Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 37  Average monthly iron concentrations in Uen Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 38  Distribution of iron concentrations in Uen Creek, 2006-2017.
Figure 38  Distribution of iron concentrations in Uen Creek, 2006-2017.
 
Summary of Uens Creek metals

In Uen creek there is evidence of increased metal concentration above respective guidelines,  it is quite likely that the largest source of Fe is naturally occurring from groundwater inputs. Even so, continued efforts should be made to protect against possible pollution sources and implement best management practices to reduce any inputs such as storm water runoff from hardened surfaces to improve overall stream health and lessen downstream impacts. 


[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] 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  Long Lake Catchment: Riparian Conditions

The Stream Characterization Program evaluated two tributaries in the Long Lake catchment in 2016.  A total of 2.2 kilometres along Stub Creek was surveyed in the middle of June, while 2.5 kilometres along Uens Creek was assessed in July and August. 

During the summer and fall of 2016, the Rideau Valley watershed experienced periods of severe drought. Precipitation levels were measured at less than 40% of the long-term average, as the water supply was unable to meet local demand. The lack of rainfall affected the success and function of farm crops, municipal and private wells, lawns and gardens, navigation and ultimately the health of our lakes, rivers and streams.

Low water conditions were readily observed throughout the watershed, as many of the streams were highly fragmented or completely dry. Aquatic species such as amphibians, fish and macroinvertebrates were affected, as suitable habitat may have been limited. Fragmentation of habitat was observed in sections along Stag, Stub and Uens Creek during drought conditions in 2016.

Photo along Stag Creek showing fragmentation of aquatic habitat during the drought in the Fall of 2016

Photo along Stag Creek showing fragmentation of aquatic habitat during the drought in the Fall of 2016

 

3.1 Uens Creek and Stub Creek Overbank Zone

3.1.1 Riparian Buffer 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 39 demonstrates the buffer conditions of the left and right banks separately.  Uens Creek had a buffer of greater than 30 meters along 100 percent of the left bank and 88 percent of the right bank.   

Figure XX Riparian Buffer Evaluation along Uens Creek

 

Figure 39 Riparian Buffer Evaluation along Uens Creek   

Figure 40 shows that Stub Creek had a buffer of greater than 30 meters along 100 percent of the left bank and 98 percent of the right bank.   

Figure XX Riparian Buffer Evaluation along Stub Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 40 Riparian Buffer Evaluation along Stub Creek 

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 41). The riparian buffer zone along Uens and Stub Creek were found to be dominated by wetland, forest and scrubland conditions.  

Figure XX Riparian buffer alterations along Uens and Stub Creek
Figure 41 Riparian buffer alterations along Uens and Stub Creek

3.1.3 Adjacent Land Use

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. 

The RVCA’s Stream Characterization Program identifies seven different land uses along Uens Creek (Figure 42). Wetland habitat was dominant at 60 percent of sections surveyed; scrubland habitat was found at 56 percent of sections, 52 percent forested habitat, while 40 percent was classified as meadow habitat in the adjacent lands along Uens Creek.  The remaining land use consisted of active agriculture, residential and infrastructure in the form of road crossings.

Figure XX Land Use along Uens Creek

 

 
Figure 42 Land Use along Uens Creek

The RVCA’s Stream Characterization Program identifies four different land uses along Stub Creek (Figure 43). Wetland habitat was dominant at 64 percent of sections surveyed; forested habitat was found at 55 percent of sections and 14 percent of sections had scrubland habitat in the adjacent lands along Stub Creek.  The remaining land use consisted of infrastructure in the form of road crossings.

Figure XX Land Use along Stub Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 43 Land Use along Stub Creek

3.2 Uens Creek and Stub Creek 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 Stub Creek had no evidence of erosion observed along the surveyed sections, however there was one location with moderate levels of erosion observed (Figure 44).  Uens Creek was more variable in relation to erosion levels along the system with low levels of erosion to one location with high erosion levels observed.

Figure XX Erosion levels along Uens and Stub Creek
Figure 44 Erosion levels along Uens and Stub Creek

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 45 shows that Uens and Stub Creek had highly variable conditions ranging from no undercut stream banks to high levels observed.

Figure XX Undercut stream banks along Uens and Stub Creek
Figure 45 Undercut stream banks along Uens and Stub Creek 

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 46 shows highly variable levels of stream shading along Uens and Stub Creek.  

Figure XX Stream shading observations along Uens and Stub Creek
Figure 46 Stream shading observations along Uens and Stub Creek

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, forested lakeshores have been altered and wood-based physical structure in many waterways 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 47 shows that the majority of Stub Creek had high to moderate levels of instream structure along the system.   Uens Creek was highly variable with low to high levels of in water trees and branches observed along the majority of the system.

Figure XX Instream wood structure along Uens and Stub Creek
Figure 47 Instream wood structure along Uens and Stub Creek
Instream wood structure located along Stub Creek
Instream wood structure located along Stub Creek

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 48 shows the systems are highly variable with no overhanging branches and trees where the system is wide and is dominated by wetland habitat to areas in the middle reach of Uens Creek with high levels of overhanging wood structure.  Stub creek had low levels of overhanging wood structure along the majority of the system as it is dominated by wide wetland habitat conditions.

Figure XX Overhanging wood structure along Uens and Stub Creek
Figure 48 Overhanging wood structure along Uens and Stub Creek

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 49 shows seventy six percent of Uens Creek remains “unaltered” with no anthropogenic alterations.   Twenty four percent of Uens Creek was classified as natural with minor anthropogenic changes. The minor alterations along Uens Creek were in the form of road crossings.  There were no sections that were classified as being altered or highly altered.

Figure XX Anthropogenic alterations along Uens Creek

 

Figure 49 Anthropogenic alterations along Uens Creek

Figure 50 shows ninety five percent of Stub Creek remains “unaltered” with no anthropogenic alterations.   Five percent of Stub Creek was classified as natural with minor anthropogenic changes. The minor alterations along Stub Creek were in the form of road crossings.  There were no sections that were classified as being altered or highly altered.

Figure XX Anthropogenic alterations along Stub Creek
Figure 50 Anthropogenic alterations along Stub Creek

3.3 Uens Creek and Stub Creek Instream Aquatic Habitat

3.3.1 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 woody material.   Low to high habitat complexity was identified for Uens and Stub Creek (Figure 51).

Figure XX Habitat complexity along Uens and Stub Creek

Figure 51 Habitat complexity along Uens and Stub Creek

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 52 shows the dominant substrate type observed for each section surveyed along Uens and Stub Creek. 

 

Figure XX shows the dominant substrate type along Uens and Stub Creek
Figure 52 shows the dominant substrate type along Uens and Stub Creek

Figure 53 shows the overall presence of various substrate types observed along Uens Creek.  Substrate conditions were highly diverse along Uens Creek with all substrate types being recorded at various locations along the creek.  Silt was the dominant substrate recorded in 96% of survey sections.

Figure XX Instream substrate along Uens Creek

 

Figure 53 Instream substrate along Uens Creek

Figure 54 shows the overall presence of various substrate types observed along Stub Creek.  Substrate conditions were somewhat diverse along Stub Creek with all substrate types being recorded at various locations along the creek.  Silt and clay substrates were dominant along Stub Creek.

Figure XX Instream substrate along Stub Creek

 

Figure 54 Instream substrate along Stub Creek

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 55 shows where riffle habitat occurs along Uens and Stub Creek.

 

Figure XX Instream riffle habitat locations along Uens and Stub Creek
Figure 55 Instream riffle habitat locations along Uens and Stub Creek

Figure 56 shows that Uens Creek has highly variable instream morphology: 64 percent of sections recorded runs, 52 percent pools and 16 percent riffles. Figure 57 shows that Uens Creek has a somewhat variable instream morphology: 95 percent of sections recorded pools, 27 percent runs and 23 percent riffles.

Figure XX Instream morphology along Uens Creek

 

Figure 56 Instream morphology along Uens Creek

Figure XX Instream morphology along Stub Creek

Figure 57 Instream morphology along Stub Creek

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.  Figure 58 shows the dominant vegetation type observed for each section surveyed along Uens and Stub Creek.

Figure XX Dominant vegetation type along Uens and Stub Creek

Figure 58 Dominant vegetation type along Uens and Stub Creek

The plant community structure was extremely diverse along Uens Creek.  Narrow leafed emergents were observed in 96 percent of sections, algae was observed in 76 percent of survey sections, submerged plants were present in 68 percent of the survey sections, 44 percent for floating plants, 12 percent free floating plants, 60 percent broad leaved emergents and robust emergents were observed in 44 percent of sections surveyed.  Figure 59 depicts the plant community structure for Uens Creek.

Figure xx Vegetation type observations along Uens Creek

 

 

Figure 59 Vegetation type observations along Uens Creek

The plant community structure was fairly diverse along Stub Creek.  Narrow leafed emergents were observed in 100 percent of sections, 73 percent for floating plants,  submerged plants were present in 64 percent of the survey sections, algae was observed in 55 percent of survey sections, 50 percent free floating plants and 45 percent broad leaved emergents.  Figure 60 depicts the plant community structure for Stub Creek.

Figure xx Vegetation type observations along Stub Creek

 

Figure 60 Vegetation type observations along Stub Creek

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 61 demonstrates that Uens Creek reach had normal to common levels of vegetation recorded at 36 and 44 percent of stream surveys.  Extensive levels of vegetation were observed in 64 percent of the surveyed sections, while 20 percent of sections had areas with no vegetation.

Figure xx Instream vegetation abundance along Uens Creek
 
Figure 61 Instream vegetation abundance along Uens Creek 

Figure 62 demonstrates that Stub Creek reach had normal to common levels of vegetation recorded at only 14 and 9 percent of stream surveys.  Low levels of vegetation were observed in 23 percent of survey sections.  Extensive levels of vegetation were observed in 64 percent of the surveyed sections, while 9 percent of sections had areas with no vegetation.

Figure xx Instream vegetation abundance along Stub Creek

 

Figure 62 Instream vegetation abundance along Stub Creek

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. Sixty percent of the sections surveyed along Uens Creek had invasive species. The invasive species observed in Uens Creek were European frogbit, purple loosestrife, banded mystery snail, common/glossy buckthorn and Manitoba maple.  Sixty four percent of the sections surveyed along Stub Creek had invasive species. The invasive species observed in Stubs Creek was European frogbit.  This invasive aquatic plant dominated areas where extensive vegetation conditions were observed along Stub Creek.   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 63). 

Figure XX Invasive species abundance along Uens and Stub Creek
Figure 63 Invasive species abundance along Uens and Stub Creek

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. 

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). 

The average dissolved oxygen level observed within Uens Creek was 5.2mg/L which is below the recommended level for warmwater biota (Figure 64).  The lower and middle reaches of Uens Creek were within the threshold to support warmwater biota.  The upper reaches fell below the recommended threshold to support warmwater aquatic biota.

Figure XX Dissolved oxygen ranges along Uens Creek

 

Figure 64 Dissolved oxygen ranges along Uens Creek

The average dissolved oxygen level observed within Stub Creek was 5.5mg/L which is below the recommended level for warmwater biota (Figure 65).  The lower and upper reaches of Stub Creek were within the threshold to support warmwater biota.  The middle reaches fell below the recommended threshold to support warmwater aquatic biota.

Figure XX Dissolved oxygen ranges along Stub Creek

 

Figure 65 Dissolved oxygen ranges along Stub Creek

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 main stem of Uens Creek was 297.1 µs/cm.  Figure 66 shows the conductivity readings for Uens Creek.

Figure XX Specific conductivity ranges along Uens Creek

 

Figure 66 Specific conductivity ranges along Uens Creek

The average conductivity observed within the main stem of Stub Creek was 153.6µs/cm.  Figure 67 shows the conductivity readings for Stub Creek.

Figure XX Specific conductivity ranges along Stub Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 67 Specific conductivity ranges along Stub Creek

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 Uens Creek averaged 7.22 thereby meeting the provincial standard (Figure 68).

Figure XX pH ranges along Uens Creek
Figure 68 pH ranges along Uens Creek

Average pH values along Stub Creek averaged 7.01 thereby meeting the provincial standard (Figure 69).

Figure XX pH ranges along Stub Creek
 
Figure 69 pH ranges along Stub Creek

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:

DOSAT
 
Dissolved oxygen conditions on Uens Creek were somewhat variable along the system (Figure 70).  Sections in the lower reach fell below the guideline to support warmwater biota, however sections in the middle reach were acceptable for warm/cool water species.  Stub Creek had mixed results with areas that ranged from meeting the guideline to support warmwater biota and areas that fell below the guideline to support warmwater biota. 
 
Figure XX A bivariate assessment of dissolved oxygen concentration (mg/L) and saturation (%) in Uens and Stub Creek
Figure 70 A bivariate assessment of dissolved oxygen concentration (mg/L) and saturation (%) in Uens and Stub Creek
 

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 25C. 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 along the majority of both creeks; however there were several areas with moderate levels of conductivity and one area on Stub Creek with high levels of conductivity observed (Figure 71).

Figure XX Relative specific conductivity levels along Uens and Stub Creek

Figure 71 Relative specific conductivity levels along Uens and Stub Creek

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 72 shows where the thermal sampling sites were located on Uens and Stub Creek. 

Figure XX Temperature logger locations along Uens and Stub Creek
Figure 72 Temperature logger locations along Uens and Stub Creek 

Each point on the two following graphs represents a temperature that meets the following criteria:1) Sampling dates are between July 1st and September 7th 2) Sampling date is preceded by two consecutive days above 24.5 °C, with no rain 3) Water temperatures are collected at 4pm and 4) Air temperature is recorded as the max temperature for that day.

Analysis of the data collected indicates that Uens Creek is classified as a warm water system with cool water reaches (Figure 73). 

Figure XX Temperature logger data for the sites on Uens Creek

 

Figure 73 Temperature logger data for the sites on Uens Creek
 Analysis of the data collected indicates that Stub Creek is classified as a cool water system with cool to warm water reaches (Figure 74). 
Figure XX Temperature logger data for the sites on Stub Creek
Figure 74 Temperature logger data for the sites on Stub Creek

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 75 shows areas where one or more of the above groundwater indicators were observed during stream surveys and headwater assessments. 

Figure XX Groundwater indicators observed in the Long Lake catchment
Figure 75 Groundwater indicators observed in the Long Lake catchment

3.3.11 Fish Community

The Long Creek catchment is classified as a mixed community of warm and cool water recreational and baitfish fishery with 19 species observed (Table 19). Figure 76 shows where the listed species  were observed in the watershed in 2016 and historically.

Table 19 Fish species observed in the Long Lake catchment
Fish SpeciesScientific NameFish codeHistorical2016
blacknose shinerNotropis heterolepisBnShiXX
bluegillLepomis macrochirusBluegX
bluntnose minnowPimephales notatusBnMinX
brassy minnowHybognathus hankinsoniBrMinXX
brook sticklebackCulaea inconstansBrStiXX
brown bullheadAmeiurus nebulosusBrBulXX
bullhead catfishesAmeiurus sp.CATFIX
carps and minnowsCyprinidaeCA_MIX
central mudminnowUmbra limiCeMudXX
creek chubSemotilus atromaculatusCrChuXX
etheostoma sp.etheostoma sp.EthSpX
fathead minnowPimephales promelasFhMinXX
finescale dacePhoxinus neogaeusFsDacXX
golden shinerNotemigonus crysoleucasGoShiXX
iowa darterEtheostoma exileIoDarXX
largemouth bassMicropterus salmoidesLmBasX
northern pikeEsox luciusNoPikX
northern redbelly daceChrosomus eosNRDacXX
pumpkinseedLepomis gibbosusPumpkXX
sunfish familyLepomis sp.LepSpX
walleyeSander vitreusWalleX
yellow perchPerca flavescensYePerXX
TOTAL Species1916

 

Figure XX Fish Community sampling observations for 2016

Figure 76 Fish community sampling observations in the Long Lake 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 77 shows the migration barriers in the Long Lake catchment at the time of the survey in 2016.  There were seven perched/blocked culverts, five wood debris dams and two natural grade barriers within the catchment.

Figure XX Migratory obstructions in the Long Lake catchment

Figure 77 Migratory obstructions in the Long Lake catchment

3.3.13 Beaver Dam Locations

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 wood 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 in the Long Lake catchment area in 2016 (Figure 78).

Figure XX Beaver Dam type and locations in the Long Lake catchment
Figure 78 Beaver dam type and locations in the Long Lake catchment

3.4 Long Lake Catchment Headwater Drainage Feature Assessment

3.4.1 Headwaters Sampling Locations

The RVCA Stream Characterization program assessed Headwater Drainage Features for the Long Lake catchment in 2016. 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 2016 the program sampled 33 sites at road crossings in the Long Lake catchment area (Figure 79).  

Figure XX Location of the headwater sampling site in the Long Lake catchment
Figure 79 Location of the headwater sampling site in the Long Lake catchment
A spring photo of the headwater sample site in the Long Lake catchment located on Long Lake Road
 

A spring photo of the headwater sample site in the Long Lake catchment located on Long Lake Road

A summer photo of the headwater sample site in the Long Lake catchment located on Long Lake Road

 

A summer photo of the headwater sample site in the Long Lake catchment located on Long Lake Road

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 Long Lake catchment are predominantly dominated by natural and wetland features. Figure 80 shows the feature type of the primary feature at the sampling locations.

Figure XX Headwater feature types in the Long Lake catchment
Figure 80 Headwater feature types in the Long Lake 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 81 shows the observed flow condition at the sampling locations in the Long Lake catchment in 2016.

Figure XX Headwater feature flow conditions in the Long Lake catchment
Figure 81 Headwater feature flow conditions in the Long Lake catchment
A spring photo of the headwater sample site in the Long Lake catchment located on McLean Road
 
A spring photo of the headwater sample site in the Long Lake catchment located on McLean Road
A summer photo of the headwater sample site in the Long Lake catchment located on McLean Road
 
A summer photo of the headwater sample site in the Long Lake catchment located on McLean 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 Long Lake catchment area had a majority of features with no channel modifications with the exception of three sites having mixed modifications and two having been historically dredged or straightened.  Figure 82 shows the channel modifications observed at the sampling locations for the Long Lake catchment.

Figure XX Headwater feature channel modifications in the Long Lake catchment
Figure 82 Headwater feature channel modifications in the Long Lake 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 83 depicts the dominant vegetation observed at the sampled headwater sites in the Long Lake catchment.

Figure XX Headwater feature vegetation types in the Long Lake catchment
Figure 83 Headwater feature vegetation types in the Long Lake 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 84 depicts the type of riparian vegetation observed at the sampled headwater sites in the Long Lake catchment.  The majority of the headwater drainage features are classified as having natural riparian vegetation with only six features having altered vegetation.

Figure XX Headwater feature riparian vegetation types in the Long Lake catchment
Figure 84 Headwater feature riparian vegetation types in the Long Lake 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 Long Lake catchment area.  Figure 85 depicts the degree of sediment deposition observed at the sampled headwater sites in the Long Lake catchment.  Sediment deposition conditions ranged from no sediment deposition to extensive.

Figure XX Headwater feature sediment deposition in the Long Lake catchment

Figure 85 Headwater feature sediment deposition in the Long Lake 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, wood 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 86 shows that the feature roughness conditions at the sampling locations in the Long Lake catchment were highly variable ranging from minimal to extreme.

Figure XX Headwater feature roughness in the Long Lake catchment
Figure 86 Headwater feature roughness in the Long Lake catchment

4.0 Long Lake Catchment: Land Cover

Land cover and any change in coverage that has occurred over a six year period is summarized for the Long Lake 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 Long Lake Catchment Change

As shown in Table 20 and Figure 1, the dominant land cover type in 2014 is woodland.

Table 20 Land cover in the Long Lake catchment (2008 vs. 2014)
Land Cover20082014Change - 2008 to 2014
AreaAreaArea
HaPercentHaPercentHaPercent
Woodland*520861520661-20
Wetland **18222118222100
>Unevaluated(1822)(21)(1822)(21)(0)(0)
Water5106510600
Crop and Pasture4916491600
Meadow-Thicket2273227300
Transportation1732173200
Settlement1261128120
* Does not include treed swamps ** Includes treed swamps

From 2008 to 2014, there was an overall change of three hectares (from one land cover class to another). Most of the change in the Long Lake catchment is a result of the conversion of woodland to settlement (Figure 87).

LandCoverChangeNewTay-RiverLong-Lake-001-001
Figure 87 Land cover change in the Long Lake catchment (2008 to 2014)

Table 21 provides a detailed breakdown of all land cover change that has taken place in the Long Lake catchment between 2008 and 2014.

Table 21 Land cover change in the Long Lake catchment (2008 to 2014)
Land CoverChange - 2008 to 2014
Area
Ha.Percent
Woodland to Settlement2.279.7
Crop and Pasture to Woodland0.310.4
Wooded Area to Unevaluated Wetland0.39.8

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 88, 61 percent of the Long Lake catchment contains 5206 hectares of upland forest and 47 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-RiverLong-Lake-001-001
Figure 88 Woodland cover and forest interior in the Long Lake 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 Long Lake catchment (in 2014), one hundred and twenty-five (50 percent) of the 248 woodland patches are very small, being less than one hectare in size. Another 93 (38 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 30 (12 percent of) woodland patches range between 20 and 1677 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, thirteen (five percent) of the 248 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. Five patches 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 22 presents a comparison of woodland patch size in 2008 and 2014 along with any changes that have occurred over that time. A decrease (of three hectares) has been observed in the overall woodland patch area between the two reporting periods.

Table 22 Woodland patches in the Long Lake catchment (2008 and 2014)
Woodland Patch Size Range (ha)Woodland* PatchesPatch Change
200820142008 to 2014
NumberAreaNumberAreaNumberArea
CountPercent HaPercentCountPercent HaPercentCountHa
Less than 1 1275149112550481-2-1
1 to 20923734269338342610
20 to 50104296610429560-1
50 to 1007352910735291000
100 to 200831190238311902300
Greater than 20052284954522848540-1
Totals24910052551002481005252100-1-3
*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 Long Lake catchment (in 2014), the 273 woodland patches contain 37 forest interior patches (Figure 47) that occupy 11 percent (908 ha.) of the catchment land area (which is greater than the five percent of interior forest in the Tay River subwatershed). This is greater than 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 (21) have less than 10 hectares of interior forest, nine of which have small areas of interior forest habitat less than one hectare in size. The remaining 16 patches contain interior forest between 12 and 258 hectares in area. Between 2008 and 2014, a small loss of two hectares of interior forest was observed in the Long Lake catchment (Table 23).

Table 23 Woodland interior in the Long Lake catchment (2008 and 2014)
Woodland Interior Habitat Size Range (ha)Woodland InteriorInterior Change
200820142008 to 2014
NumberAreaNumberAreaNumberArea
CountPercentHaPercentCountPercent HaPercentCountHa
Less than 1 9242<19242<100
1 to 10123344512324350-1
10 to 3082216318822162180-1
30 to 50411149164101491600
50 to 1002512314261231400
Greater than 1002542947264294700
Totals37100910100371009081000-2

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.

CurrentWetlandTay-RiverLong-Lake-001-001

Figure 89 Wetland cover in the Long Lake catchment (2014)

Reliable, pre-settlement wetland cover data is unavailable for the Long Lake catchment; however, data for the years 2008 and 2014 is available and shows that wetland cover remains unchanged at 21 percent in 2014 (as indicated in Table 24 and shown in Figure 89). 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 24 Wetland cover in the Long Lake catchment (2014)
Wetland Cover Pre-settlement20082014Change - Historic to 2014
Area  Area  Area  Area  
Ha Percent Ha Percent Ha Percent Ha Percent 
Long Laken/an/a182221182221n/an/a
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 90 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 around Carnahan and Long Lake, other lakes and along both sides of the shoreline of Stag, Stub and Uens Creek and the many unnamed watercourses (including headwater streams) found in the Long Lake catchment.

RiparianLandCoverwWetlandTay-RiverLong-Lake-001-001
Figure 90 Natural and other riparian land cover in the Long Lake catchment (2014)

This analysis shows that the Long Lake catchment riparian buffer is composed of wetland (46 percent), woodland (42 percent), crop and pastureland (six percent), transportation routes (two percent), settlement (two percent) and meadow-thicket (two percent). Along the many watercourses (including Stag, Stub and Uens along with headwater streams) flowing into Long and Carnahan Lake, the riparian buffer is composed of wetland (52 percent), woodland (37 percent), crop and pastureland (seven percent), transportation routes (two percent), meadow-thicket (one percent) and settlement areas (one percent).

Around Long Lake itself, the shoreline buffer is dominated by woodland (56 percent) and cottages, houses and camps (23 percent) with the remainder comprised of wetland (12 percent), roads (six percent) and crop and pastureland (three percent). The shoreline buffer around Carnahan Lake is dominated by woodland (95 percent) with the remainder comprised of cottages and houses (two percent), wetland (two percent) and roads (less than one percent).

Additional statistics for the Long Lake catchment are presented in Tables 25 to 28 and show that there has been little to no change in shoreline cover from 2008 to 2014.

Table 25 Riparian land cover in the Long Lake catchment (2008 vs. 2014)
Riparian Land Cover20082014Change - 2008 to 2014
AreaAreaArea
Ha.Percent Ha.PercentHa.Percent
Wetland516.1246.00516.2846.010.160.01
> Unevaluated(516.12)(46.00)(516.28)(46.01)(0.16)(0.01)
Woodland472.8742.15472.4942.11-0.38-0.04
Crop & Pasture69.386.1869.386.180.000.00
Transportation23.452.0923.452.090.000.00
Settlement22.432.0022.642.020.210.02
Meadow-Thicket17.751.5817.751.580.000.00
Table 26 Riparian land cover around Long Lake (2008 vs. 2014)
Riparian Land Cover2008.002014.00Change - 2008 to 2014
AreaAreaArea
Ha.Percent Ha.PercentHa.Percent
Woodland34.2256.3534.2256.350.000.00
Settlement13.8222.7713.8222.770.000.00
Wetland7.4312.247.4312.240.000.00
> Unevaluated7.4312.247.4312.240.000.00
Transportation3.585.893.585.890.000.00
Crop and Pasture1.652.711.652.710.000.00
Meadow-Thicket0.020.030.020.030.000.00
Table 27 Riparian land cover around Carnahan Lake (2008 vs. 2014)
Riparian Land Cover20082014Change - 2008 to 2014
AreaAreaArea
Ha.Percent Ha.PercentHa.Percent
Woodland21.4395.4121.3394.96-0.10-0.45
Wetland0.472.100.472.100.000.00
> Unevaluated(0.47)(2.10)(0.47)(2.10)(0.00)(0.00)
Settlement0.451.990.552.450.100.46
Transportation0.110.490.110.490.000.00
Table 28 Riparian land cover along streams in the Long Lake catchment (2008 vs. 2014)
Riparian Land Cover20082014Change - 2008 to 2014
AreaAreaArea
Ha.Percent Ha.PercentHa.Percent
Wetland493.2451.86493.4051.880.160.02
> Unevaluated(493.24)(51.86)(493.40)(51.88)(0.16)(0.02)
Woodland351.7936.99351.5236.96-0.27-0.03
Crop & Pasture65.776.9265.776.920.000.00
Transportation17.431.8317.431.830.000.00
Meadow-Thicket15.371.6215.371.620.000.00
Settlement7.470.797.590.800.120.01

 

5.0 Long Lake 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 91 shows the location of all stewardship projects completed in the Long Lake catchment.

StewardshipTay-RiverLong-Lake-001-001Figure 91 Stewardship site locations in the Long Lake 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 Long Lake catchment from 2011 to 2016, one well upgrade was completed at a total value of $1,437 with $500 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), 3,000 trees were planted at one site resulting in the reforestation of two hectares. Total project value is $4,938 with $4,090 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.

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 Long Lake 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 Fish and Wetland Habitat

The Long Lake Property Owners' Association has completed four walleye spawning bed enhancement projects since 2011: three on Long Lake and one on Drew's Creek. A fifth project was also completed by the Ministry of Natural Resources Stewardship Rangers Program in 2001/2002. Two of the spawning bed projects were funded under the MNR Community Fisheries and Wildlife Improvement Program.

 

5.5 Valley, Stream, Wetland and Hazard Lands

The Long Lake catchment covers 85.6 square kilometres and contains 18 square kilometres of wetland along with 177.9 kilometres of stream. None of these natural features are subject to the regulation limit of Ontario Regulation 174/06 (Figure 78) for the protection of wetland areas and river or stream valleys that are affected by flooding and erosion hazards.

For areas where no regulation limit exists, protection of the catchment’s watercourses is provided through the “alteration to waterways” provision of the regulation.

RegulatedFeaturesNewTay-RiverLong-Lake-001-001Figure 92 Regulated natural features and hazards in the Long Lake catchment

5.6 Vulnerable Drinking Water Areas

Mississippi-Rideau Source Water Protection program has mapped two small areas in this catchment, to the centre and southwest, as a Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas and 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. There are no Well-Head Protection Areas in the catchment.

The Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Plan includes policies that focus on the protection of groundwater region-wide due to the fact that most of the region, which encompasses the Mississippi and Rideau watersheds, is considered Highly Vulnerable Aquifer. For detailed maps and policies that have been developed to protect drinking water sources, visit the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Region website.

6.0 Long Lake Catchment: Accomplishments

Specific accomplishments noted by the Long Lake community to improve the lake ecosystem are indicated by an asterisk.

Long Lake and Catchment Health

Septic Inspections

The Long Lake Property Owners Association  has been involved in joint submissions - with several other lake associations - made to the Township of Central Frontenac in support of a septic system re-inspection program and continues to support this initiative.*

Tree Planting

3000 trees have been planted at one site by the RVCA Private Land Forestry Program. 

Water Quality

Carnahan Lake and Long Lake are sampled yearly by the RVCA for five parameters, four times a year along with two stream sampling sites to assess surface chemistry water quality conditions: Stub and Uens Creeks are sampled yearly for 22 parameters, six times a year.

One Rural Clean Water Program project was completed by the RVCA Rural Clean Water Program.

Long Lake and Catchment Habitat

Fish Habitat Improvement

Five walleye fish habitat improvement projects have been completed on Long Lake: one in 2001/2002 and four since 2011. The Long Lake Property Owners' Association has carried out three of these walleye spawning bed enhancement projects on Long Lake and one other on Drew's Creek, which feeds into the lake. Prior to these projects being done by the LLPOA, the Ministry of Natural Resources Stewardship Rangers Program also completed a walleye spawning bed enhancement project on the lake. Two of three spawning bed projects completed by the LLPOA were funded under the MNR Community Fisheries and Wildlife Improvement Program.*

In-stream Habitat

2.2 kilometres of Stub Creek and 2.5 kilometres of Uens Creek have been surveyed along with 33 headwaters sites being sampled by the RVCA Stream Characterization Program.

7.0 Long Lake Catchment: Challenges/Issues

Specific challenges and issues noted by the Long Lake community are indicated by an asterisk.

Development

Waterfront property development is occurring primarily through the transformation of traditional, seasonal cottages into larger year-round dwellings. This transition is taking place either through re-development of an existing cottage lot or incremental alterations (additions, sleeping cabins, gazebos, decks, sheds, boat houses, garages, lawns, shoreline modifications, docks), all of which may put additional stress on the sensitive shoreline zone and the lake along with potential, added septic system loading.

Many waterfront properties contain existing non-conforming dwellings with respect to minimum water frontage and lot area and are often located within 30 metres of the water that require minor variances for expansion and/or reconstruction of dwellings where standard development setbacks from water are difficult to achieve. In these cases, of which there are many, staff at the Township of Central Frontenac and the Conservation Authority often meet with resistance and push back when attempts are made to implement standards for development setbacks, vegetated shorelines and septic systems.

Monitoring implementation of conditions of planning and regulatory approvals is challenging due to a lack of resources.

Headwaters/In-water Habitat/Shorelines

Walleye spawning shoals on Long Lake are beginning to show an increase in slime-like aquatic growth which may, over-in time, affect walleye breeding success. Funding demise of MNR's Community Fisheries and Wildlife Improvement Program has put plans on hold for future Long Lake fish improvement projects to tackle this.*

Long Lake residents and the lake ecosystem benefit from over four miles of undeveloped shoreline. This situation could change if the current landowners were to sell their land for waterfront development.*

Long Lake has 68 percent of its shoreline composed of natural vegetation. This is below the 75 percent target that is recommended by experts for the protection of the catchment’s waterbodies and watercourses, 30 metres back from the shoreline of streams, rivers and lakes (see Section 4.4 in this report).

Seven of thirty-three sampled headwater sites in the catchment have been modified (four are channelized, two are swales and one is tiled)(see Section 3.4.2 of this report for more information).

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

Lake Planning

This report outlines some issues and concerns regarding the health of the Long Lake catchment. However, there is limited knowledge of the overall issues and concerns about natural resource management along with their use and the health of Carnahan Lake, Long Lake and its watershed.

The Carnahan Lake Association and the Long Lake Association might consider working together with their lake residents to undergo the lake planning process. The lake planning process allows for valuable information about the current health of the lake and its watershed, as well as an overview of all the issues and concerns facing the lake to be collected together. The lake planning process requires involvement and input from the whole lake community which includes lake residents, users, local government, non-governmental organizations, agency partners and other stakeholders. The process ensures that the lake community’s issues and concerns are gathered into one action-oriented document, which can guide the many stakeholders that care about the lake ecosystem to help tackle lake health concerns in partnership.

Land Cover

Land cover has changed across the catchment (2008 to 2014) as a result of an increase in the area of settlement (2 ha.) and loss of woodland (2 ha.)(see Section 4.1 in this report)

Woodlands cover 20 percent of the catchment. This is below the 30 percent of forest cover that is identified as the minimum threshold for sustaining forest birds and other woodland dependent species (see Section 4.2 in this report).

Wetlands cover 21 percent (1822 ha.) of the catchment (in 2014). One hundred percent (1822 ha.) of these wetlands remain unevaluated and unregulated and although they are not under imminent threat from development activity, they do remain vulnerable to drainage and land clearing activities in the absence of any regulatory and planning controls that would otherwise protect them for the many important hydrological, social, biological and ecological functions/services/values they provide to landowners and the surrounding community (see Section 4.3 in this report).

Water Quality

Carnahan Lake surface chemistry water quality rating ranges from Poor to Fair (see Section 2.1 in this report).

Long Lake surface chemistry water quality rating ranges from Fair to Good (see Section 2.2 in this report).

There is concern over the increase in slime-like aquatic growth on shoreline rocks and structures in Long Lake. The RVCA annual water quality reports in the last several years indicate that 25 percent of the samples taken have a higher concentrate on nitrogen that the provincial recommended standard for recreational water quality, although the average of samples remains lower than this standard.*

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

Uens Creek surface chemistry water quality rating ranges from Poor to Fair (see Section 2.4 in this report).

Stag, Stubb and Uens Creek instream biological water quality conditions are unavailable due to unsuitable benthic invertebrate sample locations.

No septic system re-inspection program (mandatory or voluntary) is in effect, currently.*

8.0 Long Lake Catchment: Actions/Opportunities

Specific opportunities noted by the Long Lake community to improve the lake ecosystem are indicated by an asterisk.

Long Lake and Catchment Health

Development

Work with approval authorities (Central Frontenac Township, Frontenac County, Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington Health Unit, Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office and RVCA) and waterfront property owners (including the Carnahan Lake Association and Long Lake Property Owners' Association) to consistently implement current land use planning and development policies for water quality and shoreline protection adjacent to Carnahan and Long Lake and headwater streams in the catchment (i.e., a minimum 30 metre development setback from water).

Explore ways and means to more effectively enforce and implement 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 Committee of Adjustment to take advantage of technical and environmental information and recommendations forthcoming from planning and environmental professionals.

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 Central Frontenac Township, Frontenac County and agencies to ensure that development approvals around lakes and along watercourses take into consideration the protection of fish habitat (including the near-shore nursery and spawning habitat).

Municipal and agency planners together with development proponents are to use the 2014 Site Evaluation Guidelines to inform decision-making about the application of development setbacks on lots with shallow soils/bedrock, steep slopes and sparse vegetation cover along with the use of the appropriate, development related, best management practices.

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

Establish RVCA regulation limits around the 100 percent (1822 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

Long Lake Property Owners Association may wish to approach the two landowners on the lake who own over four miles of natural shoreline to see if they might consider an ecological gift of their lands. This would help to maintain and protect the lake's long term health for future generations.*

Take advantage of the RVCA Shoreline Naturalization Program to re-naturalize altered creek, lake and stream shoreline identified in this report as “Unnatural Riparian Land Cover". Concentrate stewardship efforts on Long Lake waterfront properties shown in orange on the Riparian Land Cover map (see Figure 90 in Section 4.4 in 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 (Carnahan Lake Association, Central Frontenac Township, Frontenac County, Kingston Frontenac Lennox and Addington Health Unit, Long Lake Property Owners' Association, Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office and RVCA).

Water Quality​

Long Lake Property Owners' Association supports working with the Township of Central Frontenac to establish a septic system inspection program on Long Lake along with an associated educational program.*

Consider further investigation of the 1) Poor to Fair surface chemistry water quality rating on Carnahan Lake; 2) Fair to Good surface chemistry water quality rating on Long Lake and 3) Fair surface chemistry water quality rating in Uens Creek as part of a review of RVCA's Watershed Watch and Baseline 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 Carnahan and Long Lakes and their tributaries, including Uens Creek (e.g., livestock fencing, septic system repair/replacement and streambank erosion control/stabilisation).

Educate waterfront property owners about septic system care and maintenance 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 loadings to Carnahan and Long Lake 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 lake ecosystem. This will be particularly beneficial in areas with extensive impervious surfaces (i.e., asphalt, concrete, buildings, and severely compacted soils) or on sensitive waterfront properties (with steep slopes/banks, shallow/impermeable soils).

Long Lake and Catchment Habitat

Aquatic Habitat/Fisheries/Wildlife

Long Lake Property Owners' Association is looking into what government programs may exist to once again complete spawning bed enhancement projects and other fish and wildlife habitat improvements, which it will be asking the RVCA to advise on.*

Educate waterfront property owners about: 1) fish habitat requirements, spawning timing and near-shore and in-water activities that can disturb or destroy fish habitat and spawning sites 2) the causes of excessive algae and aquatic vegetation growth (see the RVCA publication entitled Algae and Aquatic Plant Educational Manual) and 3) healthy lake ecosystems and associated water level fluctuations in a natural environment.

Long Lake Property Owners' Association Leadership

Lake Planning

Long Lake Property Owners' Association may wish to consider a lake planning process to develop a Lake Plan that: • Is an action plan developed by a lake community that identifies and preserves the natural and social characteristics that are valued by the lake community for future generations • Helps to promote community discussion, education and action • Sets goals and objectives for the protection and enhancement of the lake • Recommends land use policies/practices that influence development on the lake • Promotes stewardship actions to improve the environmental conditions of a lake so it can be enjoyed by future generations.

Consider the need for a community-driven lake management plan for Long Lake that can: • Bring the lake community together • Engage the community beyond the lake residents and lake association members and develops partnership • Identify and bring together common values and concerns • Provide a baseline of data on water quality, shoreline development, fisheries management, etc., that can help to inform water resources management, land use planning and stewardship actions • Range in complexity from a comprehensive living document to a simplified list of priorities that can be carried out by the lake community to protect the lake environment.