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1.0 Pike Lake Catchment: Facts

1.1 General/Physical Geography

Drainage Area

62 square kilometres; occupies eight percent of the Tay River subwatershed; one percent of the Rideau Valley watershed.


The Pike Lake Catchment resides within part of the physiographic region known as the Algonquin Highlands. In the Tay River Subwatershed, this ancient and hilly geologic region is made up of such Precambrian rocks as marble, conglomerates, and dark or colour banded granite-like rocks. A veneer of glacial drift (glacial till, sand etc.) overlies the bedrock.

Municipal Coverage

Rideau Lakes Township: (37 km2; 59% of catchment)

Tay Valley Township: (25 km2; 41% of catchment)

Stream Length

All tributaries (including headwater streams): 198 km

1.2 Vulnerable Areas

Aquifer Vulnerability

Mississippi-Rideau Source Water Protection program has mapped only one very small part of this catchment as a Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas and all of the catchment as a Highly Vulnerable Aquifer (HVA). 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 Pike Lake catchment.

1.3 Conditions at a Glance


One aggregate license within this catchment along with a sand and gravel area of tertiary significance.

Fish Community/Thermal Regime

Warm and cool water recreational and baitfish fishery. The fish community has not been sampled along streams and headwater drainage features in the Pike Lake catchment.

Headwater Drainage Features

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

Land Cover Change (2008 to 2014)
Catchment Woodland Crop-Pasture Meadow-Thicket Wetland Settlement
Hectares -4 -2 -1 +5 +4
Land Cover Type (2014)
Catchment Woodland Wetland Water Crop-Pasture Meadow-Thicket Transportation Settlement
Percent 52 20 11 8 4 3 2
Shoreline Cover Type (30 m. riparian area; 2014)
Catchment % Crosby Lake % Little Crosby Lake % Pike Lake % Streams %
Woodland 50 Woodland 56 Woodland 64 Woodland 54 Woodland 47
Wetland 39 Settlement 41 Wetland 24 Settlement 29 Wetland 44
Settlement 4 Wetland 2 Settlement 6 Wetland 15 Crop-Pasture 3
Crop-Pasture 3 Transportation 1 Transportation 3 Transportation 2 MeadowThicket 3
MeadowThicket 3 --- --- MeadowThicket 3 --- --- Transportation 2
Transportation 1 --- --- --- --- --- --- Settlement 1

Significant Natural Features

Black Creek-Westport Bog Provincially Significant Wetland

Crosby Lake and Creek Provincially Significant Wetland (Complex)

Species at Risk (Elemental Occurrence)
Status Species at Risk
Threatened     Blanding's Turtle Bobolink Eastern Meadowlark Least Bittern
Special Concern Eastern Milksnake Eastern Musk Turtle Eastern Ribbonsnake Snapping Turtle
Water Quality for the Protection of Aquatic Life (2006 to 2017)
Crosby Lake Little Crosby Lake Pike Lake  Kevan Drain 
Fair Fair to Good Very Good Poor to Good

Water Wells

Approximately 250 operational private water wells in the Pike Lake catchment. Groundwater uses are mainly domestic but also include livestock and public water supplies, municipal uses and heating and cooling.

Wetland Cover

Wetlands are reported to have covered 21 percent of the Port Elmsley catchment prior to European settlement, as compared to 20 percent (or 12.2 square kilometres) of the area in 2014. This represents a six percent (or 0.8 square kilometre) loss of historic wetland cover. Thirty-five percent of the remaining wetlands are regulated leaving 65 percent (or 7.9 square kilometers) unregulated. 

1.4 Catchment Care

Environmental Management

The Pike Lake Community Association prepared the Draft Report on the State of Pike Lake and its Watershed (2009) to provide a summary of what is currently known about the Pike Lake catchment along with the community’s vision for the lake and a list of its main concerns and actions to address them. This has been followed-up with the release of the Pike Lake Stewardship Handbook in 2011, containing the community’s vision for the lake, along with a list of its main concerns and actions to address them.

Development in, and adjacent to, the Black Creek-Westport Bog Provincially Significant Wetland and Crosby Lake and Creek Provincially Significant Wetland Complex in the catchment is subject to Ontario Regulation 174-06 (entitled “Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses”) that protects the hydrologic function of the wetland and also protects landowners and their property from natural hazards (flooding, fluctuating water table, unstable soils) associated with them.

Environmental Monitoring

Chemical surface (in-stream) water quality collection by the RVCA since 2003 (see Section 2 of this report).

Nineteen 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 3.1 of this report).

Classification of Pike 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 of this report).

The Mississippi Rideau Septic System Office has conducted 255 septic system re-inspections (mandatory and voluntary) on 180 properties around Pike Lake from 2004 to 2017 and 61 voluntary septic system re-inspections on 58 properties around Crosby and Little Crosby Lake from 2007 to 2017 (see Section 5.5 of this report).

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


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