2018 Muskoka Watershed Report Card

The Muskoka Watershed Report Card is a science-based evaluation of the health of our watershed using a variety of environmental ‘health’ and ‘threat’ indicators. Health indicators include phosphorus and calcium concentrations in lakes, benthic macroinvertebrates, and interior forest habitat. Threat indicators include climate change, invasive species, fragmentation, and species at risk. Together, these indicators provide a “snapshot” of watershed health and serve to increase our understanding of the watershed where we live, work, and play.

Each of Muskoka’s 19 subwatersheds has been graded as ‘not stressed’, ‘vulnerable’ or ‘stressed’ for each indicator. 

To see how Wood Lake is doing, check out he South Muskoka River subwatershed. in the Muskoka Watershed Report card.

2013 Water Quality Report for Wood Lake

Water quality testing (clarity and temperature) was conducted between May and November, including the annual spring phosphorus test, and results were submitted to the Ministry of the Environment Dorset Centre for analysis. This information allows for the early detection of changes in the nutrient status and/or the water clarity of the lake due to the impacts of shoreline development, climate change and other stresses.

Wood Lake is an odd year lake so phosphorus tests are done in odd-numbered years, i.e. 2009, 2011, 2013 etc. A sample is taken in May because this is when the water will be most representative of the phosphorus levels in the lake from the spring turnover. Unfortunately, in 2011 we experienced a set back when Wood Lake was found to have ‘over-the-threshold’ phosphorus levels. The threshold phosphorus level for Wood Lake is 7.1 ug/L. The District Municipality of Muskoka and MOE determine this number as being the natural background level of phosphorus concentrations (e.g. if no development was present) plus 50%. If Wood Lake is below the acceptable phosphorus level for 3 consecutive test years then the lake will be removed from the ‘over-the-threshold’ list.

Luckily, the water test for 2013 came in under the threshold at approximately 6 ug/L! This is great news, and hopefully we can all keep up the responsible cottaging for the next test years (2015 and 2017) to get Wood Lake removed from the ‘over-the-threshold’ list. See the “Wood Lake Guardian” tip sheet here.

For the report see www.muskokawaterweb.ca/images/lds/Wood.pdf

The Ministry of Natural Resources - Parry Sound District is advising area residents that a Watershed Conditions Statement - Flood Outlook is in effect in the District.

Residents in the Parry Sound - Muskoka area should keep a close watch on conditions, regularly check for updated messages and exercise caution around water bodies as flows within rivers and streams continue to increase in the coming days. Although flooding is not expected at this time, residents may wish to consider taking action to secure or protect any property in flood-prone or vulnerable areas.

MNR is closely monitoring the weather and developing watershed condidtions. Further updates will be issued as appropriate.

 

TECHNICAL INFORMATION

Description of Weather System

The weather forecast for the remainder of this week is for daytime high temperatures in the range of 1-13 degrees Celcius with near to below-freezing nighttime temperatures. The current forecast is calling for up to 35mm of precipitation this week through Sunday April 13th.

Description of Current Conditions

The water content within the existing snow pack throughout local watersheds is approximately 60% above normal or historical average for early April. Forecasted temperatures and rainfall will continue to melt the substantial snow pack but flooding is not expected at this time. It is expected that the intact snow pack will retain much of the forecasted rainfall which will minimize the amount of snow melt and runoff into local waterbodies.

Seasonal daytime/nighttime air temperatures for the reminder of this week will allow the snow pack to continue melting at a moderate rate therefore reducing the potential or likelihood for significant flooding within local rivers and lakes. The rate of rise in water levels and flows is expected to increase by this weekend and into next week given current conditions.

Expiry Date: This message will expire Monday April 14, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Terminology: Notification Levels

  • **WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT - FLOOD OUTLOOK: gives early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high winds or other conditions
  • WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT - WATER SAFETY: indicates that high flows, melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for users such as boaters, anglers and swimmers but flooding is not expected
  • FLOOD WATCH: potential for floosing exists within specific watercourses and municipalities
  • FLOOD WARNING: flooding is imminent or occurring within specific watercourses and municipalities

Contact Information

 For more information please contact:

Steve Taylor, IRM Technical Specialist, Parry Sound District: 705-646-5509

Amanda Vincent, IRM Technical Specialist, Parry Sound District: 705-646-5531

A close watch on local conditions and weather forecasts from Environment Canada is recommended. Environment Canada bulletins can be found at www.weather.gc.ca

The Surface Water Monitoring Centre public webpage can be found here: www.ontario.ca/flooding

Flood Warning for Parry Sound – Muskoka from Ministry of Natural Resouces

The Ministry of Natural Resources - Parry Sound District is advising area residents that a Watershed Conditions Statement - Flood Outlook is in effect in the District.

Residents in the Parry Sound - Muskoka area should keep a close watch on conditions, regularly check for updated messages and exercise caution around water bodies as flows within rivers and streams increase in the coming days. Although flooding is not expected at this time, residents may wish to consider taking action to secure or protect any property in flood-prone or vulnerable areas.

MNR is closely monitoring the weather and developing watershed conditions. Further updates will be issued as appropriate.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION

Description of Weather System

Beginning today and extending into next week, daytime high air temperatures are expected to range from 1 degree to 8 degrees with overnight lows dropping to below freezing. A total of 15-20mm of rain is expected today across local watersheds. Rainfall and forecasted temperatures for the next few days will cause some melting of the substantial snow pack in the area but flooding is not expected at this time.

Description of Current Conditions

The water content within the existing snow pack across the Parry Sound-Muskoka area is approximately 180mm which is significantly above average for this time of year. The long-range weather outlook or trend suggests that cooler than average temperatures will return late next week, following the current mild spell.

In the absence of any significant rainfall amounts through early April, it is expected that these cooler air temperatures will allow the snow pack to melt at a relatively slow rate therefore reducing the potential for significant flooding within local rivers and lakes.

Expiry Date: This message will expire March 31, 2014 5:00 pm

Terminology: Notification Levels

**WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT - FLOOD OUTLOOK: gives early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high winds or other conditions

WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT - WATER SAFETY: indicates that high flows, melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for users such as boaters, anglers and swimmers but flooding is not expected

FLOOD WATCH: potential for flooding exists within specific watercourses and municipalities

FLOOD WARNING: flooding is imminent or occurring within specific watercourses and municipalities

 

Contact Information

For more information please contact:

Steve Taylor, IRM Technical Specialist, Parry Sound District: 705-646-5509

Amanda Vincent, IRM Technical Specialist, Parry Sound District: 705-646-5531

A close watch on local conditions and weather forecasts from Environment Canada is recommended. Environment Canada bulletins can be found at www.weather.gc.ca

The Surface Water Monitoring Centre public webpage can be found here: www.ontario.ca/flooding

 

2011 worst phosphorus year for Wood Lake since 2002

In May of each year, water samples are collected from Wood Lake to test for phosphorus levels. This test is conducted by the District Municipality of Muskoka (DMM) and is reported on every other year. Wood Lake is an odd year lake so tests are done in odd-numbered years, i.e. 2007, 2009, 2011 etc. Samples are taken during May because this is when the lake is most ‘mixed’ due to the spring turnover and is most representative of the phosphorus levels in the lake. Every lake has a naturally occurring background level of phosphorus, but in 2007 Wood Lake was considered by the DMM to be “over the threshold”, having a phosphorus concentration over 7.05 micrograms/litre. If Wood Lake is below the acceptable phosphorus level for three consecutive test years then the lake will be removed from the ‘over-the-threshold’ list.  

But, 2011 was the worst phosphorus year for Wood Lake since 2002! Spring phosphorus levels clocked in at over 10 micrograms/litre. Phosphorus levels can increase for any number of reasons, but are primarily caused by human activities, such as surface run-off from fertilizers, septic system leaks, and through sedimentation (i.e. if a part of the shoreline was developed in that year). The one-page PDF report produced by the DMM is also posted on this webpage.  

So why should YOU care about phosphorus? Having ‘over the threshold’ phosphorus levels can cause algae blooms that degrade recreational water quality, and can affect the habitat of coldwater fish species such as lake trout. This also means that properties on the lake can be subject to more stringent regulations associated with development, severance and sale because, who wants to buy a cottage on a lake full of algae?  

But the good news is that together we can put Wood Lake under the threshold! Below is a handy list to help you be a responsible cottager on Wood Lake:

  • Don’t use fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides because these chemicals can run-off into the lake and can cause algal blooms
  • Use phosphate-free or biodegradable soaps at your cottage (but no washing in the lake!)
  • Pump out your septic tank regularly – every 3-5 years
  • Avoid septic tank additives
  • Build at least 30-60 metres away from shore
  • Start a buffer strip by leaving grass uncut near shore.
  • Do not dispose of gasoline down the drain, into surface water, or onto the ground
  • Upgrade to a 4-stroke boat motor to prevent gas leakage into the lake