P. 1
Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Plan

Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Plan

|Views: 28|Likes:
Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Plan
Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Plan

More info:

Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: Western Shasta Resource Conservation District on Feb 14, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

01/07/2013

pdf

text

Sections

LAKE SIMCOE BASIN WIDE REPORT

MARCH 20, 2008

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY .........................................................................................................................................3 1.0 1.1 1.2 2.0 INTRODUCTION ..........................................................................................................................................4 LAKE SIMCOE AND THE LSEMS PROGRAM ..............................................................................................4 PURPOSE OF THE COMPREHENSIVE BASIN WIDE REPORT ......................................................................11 WATER QUALITY .....................................................................................................................................13

2.1 INTRODUCTION ..........................................................................................................................................13 2.1.2 Current Lake Conditions and Issues ...............................................................................................14 2.1.3 Current Tributary Conditions and Issues........................................................................................29 2.1.4 Emerging Issues Facing the Lake and Tributaries .........................................................................37 2.1.5 Tools and Actions to Improve Water Quality ..................................................................................50 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 5.0 WATER QUANTITY ..................................................................................................................................62 INTRODUCTION ..........................................................................................................................................62 CURRENT CONDITIONS AND ISSUES ..........................................................................................................63 EMERGING ISSUES FACING WATER QUANTITY .......................................................................................70 TOOLS AND ACTIONS TO IMPROVE WATER QUANTITY...........................................................................71 FISHERIES AND AQUATIC HABITAT ..................................................................................................74 INTRODUCTION ..........................................................................................................................................74 CURRENT CONDITIONS AND ISSUES ..........................................................................................................74 EMERGING ISSUES FACING FISHERIES AND AQUATIC HABITAT .............................................................87 TOOLS AND ACTIONS TO DATE TO IMPROVE FISHERIES AND AQUATIC HABITAT .................................88 NATURAL HERITAGE..............................................................................................................................90

5.1 INTRODUCTION ..........................................................................................................................................90 5.2 CURRENT CONDITIONS AND ISSUES ..........................................................................................................91 5.2.1 Woodlands ........................................................................................................................................91 5.2.2 Wetlands..........................................................................................................................................100 5.2.3 Wildlife Habitat ..............................................................................................................................104 5.2.4 Endangered and Threatened Species Habitat ...............................................................................110 5.2.5 Valleylands......................................................................................................................................111 5.2.6 Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest ........................................................................................112 5.3 EMERGING NATURAL HERITAGE ISSUES ...............................................................................................115 5.4 TOOLS AND ACTIONS TO DATE TO IMPROVE NATURAL HERITAGE ......................................................118 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 TOWARDS ACHIEVING LSEMS GOALS............................................................................................123 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................................123 WHAT THE LAKE AND ITS WATERSHED NEEDS .....................................................................................123 OPTIONS AND APPROACHES ....................................................................................................................124 LOOKING TO THE FUTURE ......................................................................................................................126

REFERENCES: .......................................................................................................................................................128

2

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Executive Summary
For decades Lake Simcoe has served as a valuable natural and recreational resource. Fishing, tourism and other recreational activities generate an estimated $200 million annually to the local economy. The lake is a source of drinking water for seven intakes serving five communities and is used to assimilate municipal waste from fourteen water pollution control facilities. The Lake Simcoe watershed also contains a number of important natural heritage features, including habitat to a wide range of flora and fauna. The Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report is the final document prepared under the partnership of the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy (LSEMS) and was completed to fulfill two key aspects. The first is to provide an updated report on the current state of the Lake Simcoe basin, describe specific actions to protect and restore the basin that have been implemented and bring forward emerging issues in the basin for consideration. The second aspect was to look forward and identify what the Lake Simcoe basin needs and what are some of the options and approaches to satisfy those needs. The awareness, recognition and calls for action to increase the protection and accelerate the restoration of the Lake Simcoe basin have increased over the past few years. This groundswell of increased interest has not gone unheard or unheeded. In the past year there have been several key announcements in respect to protecting and restoring Lake Simcoe. The first being the announcement from the Provincial government intending on developing the Lake Simcoe Protection Act which is expected to be a key piece of legislation to protect Lake Simcoe. The Province has also proposed an interim regulation providing limits on sewage treatment and stormwater nutrient loads which will be in place during the completion and passing of the Lake Simcoe Protection Act. The federal government has also established the Lake Simcoe Clean Up Fund; a targeted 5 year funding commitment of $30 million to accelerate the restoration of Lake Simcoe through nutrient reduction, fish habitat restoration and increased science and monitoring. The Lake Simcoe Basin Report provides a comprehensive overview of the state of the basin and identifies options moving forward. It is fitting that this report closes the final chapter of the highly successful LSEMS program as it will become the benchmark document moving forward for all Lake Simcoe watershed stakeholders charged with the continued protection and restoration of Lake Simcoe for both present and future generations.

3

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

1.0 Introduction
1.1 Lake Simcoe and the LSEMS Program Lake Simcoe is located in central, southern The Lake…. • Generates annual revenues in the Ontario within an hour’s drive of more than half hundreds of millions of dollars for the the population of the province and aside from the local economy through recreational activities; Great Lakes it is the largest inland lake in 2 • Accommodates 15% of the southern Ontario with a surface area of 722 km . province’s angling efforts which The lake supports a thriving tourism industry, accounts for more than 50% of the provides drinking water for municipalities, tourism revenue; supports a prosperous agriculture community, is • Is part of the Trent Severn Waterway used to assimilate waste water, and provides connecting Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay; many opportunities for recreation activities as well • Is consider the “ice fishing capital of as being a significant natural heritage feature. Canada”; The watershed, or the area of land which drains • Is a source of safe drinking water for into the lake, sweeps north from the Oak Ridges 6 municipalities; Moraine through parts of York and Durham • Assimilates municipal waste from 14 Regions, the Cities of Kawartha Lakes, Orillia and water pollution control facilities; • Provides the habitat for 49 different Barrie, and the County of Simcoe, crossing 23 warm and coldwater fish species; municipal boundaries. The watershed has a total 2 and land area of approximately 2,857 km . Settled in • Supports agricultural activities which the early 1800’s, the watershed is now home to contribute $500 million each year to over 350,000 residents and during the summer local and provincial economies. months the population grows even larger as an estimated 50,000 cottagers descend on the watershed to enjoy the quality of life that the lake provides. It is the activities occurring within the watershed which largely defines the condition of the health and quality of the lake and its tributaries. Therefore, it is important that we minimize the impact of our activities on the landscape as they have a direct and lasting affect on the lake and its tributaries.
The watershed:
• Includes important natural heritage features which provide habitat to a wide range of flora and fauna, 50 different species of mammals, 141 bird species, 36 reptilian/amphibian species and 65 species that are designated provincially rare; Contains 35 tributary rivers with over 3,950 km of stream channel; 5 major tributaries draining north from the Oak Ridges Moraine account for over 60% of the total area; Forests, wetlands and scrub lands account for more than 40% of the total watershed area; and Includes an estimated 12,000 cottages and 2,000 farms.

• •

• •

4

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Resource Issues Facing Lake Simcoe Despite the social, economic and natural importance of Lake Simcoe and all the benefits it provides, there are many serious environmental problems facing the lake and its watershed that necessitate immediate action. Phosphorus levels in the lake today, while lower than historical levels, still need to be reduced especially in Cook’s and Kempenfelt Bays. High phosphorus concentrations have led to the excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae which impact the aquatic ecosystem, depleting oxygen concentrations as they die and decompose. This loss of oxygen limits the ability of sensitive cold water fish species such as Lake Trout and Lake Whitefish to function properly and as a result, Lake Simcoe no longer supports a self-sustaining coldwater fishery. Both aquatic and terrestrial systems in Lake Simcoe and its subwatersheds (see Figure 1.1) have been impacted by the introduction of non-native invasive species. These species interfere with the natural ecological processes in the watershed, and can also have impacts on recreational uses. For example, zebra mussels, which were introduced to the lake in 1995, out-compete native clams, cover boats and motors, and their shells can collect on beaches. In addition, their feeding increases water clarity, which enables further plant growth because sunlight is able to reach greater depths. As the watershed is constantly under threat from new introductions, planning and research will be necessary to ensure that their impacts are minimized. There are many other resource issues facing the Lake Simcoe watershed. Other chemicals of concern are being seen in routine monitoring, public access to the lake is limited, and natural habitats are continually under pressure from human activities including urbanization, agriculture, shoreline alteration and recreation. Recreation activities are also impacted, as aquatic plants choke marinas, beaches, and private waterfronts. There are many sources of phosphorus, including sewage treatment plant discharge, storm water runoff from both urban and agricultural areas, septic systems, and from the atmosphere. Progress has been made in reducing these phosphorus loads through programs implemented by the partners of the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy. Projects including agricultural and urban best management practices, storm water detention ponds, and educational programs have helped to limit the phosphorus loads entering the lake each year. Although some progress has been made, there is much more that needs to be done. With urban areas in and around the City of Toronto becoming increasingly built-up, areas further north in the Greater Toronto Area are being targeted to accommodate an increasing population. This has placed pressure on the Lake Simcoe watershed, where many areas are being targeted for new development. Potential impacts are habitat loss and fragmentation, increased phosphorus loading, decreased infiltration, and the input of harmful chemicals into the basin’s watercourses. Protection of our resources before they are depleted is preferable to their restoration after the fact – the features and functions of existing natural areas are already well established, and protection is more cost effective than restoration activities.
5

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Figure 1.1: Lake Simcoe and its subwatersheds

Relevant Policy and Legislation The watershed population is expected to continue to grow. As such, strategic management of the watershed is required to assure that the expected growth pressure results in a positive impact to the health of the Lake. To assist with this management, a number of Provincial Plans, Policy and legislation apply to lands within the Lake Simcoe watershed that together provide a comprehensive framework for land use planning which includes: the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, 2001, Greenbelt Plan, 2005, the Provincial Policy Statement, 2005, the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006, and Planning Act reforms. This new provincial land use planning framework sets a course for sustainable development in both urban and rural areas. Key pieces of this framework provide direction which: • focuses growth to existing built-up areas with existing infrastructure in a transitsupportive land use pattern;
6

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

• • • • •

protects natural areas, drinking water and agricultural lands; sets out clear population and employment targets capping development in Simcoe County; creates complete communities, which include a better mix of jobs and residential uses to limit bedroom communities and long commutes; sets strict criteria on urban boundary expansions; and sets out a process for planning within watersheds.

The Planning Act The Planning Act was changed through both Bill 26 (the Strong Communities Planning Amendment Act, 2004) and Bill 51 (the Planning and Conservation Land Statute Law Amendment Act, 2006). The combined effects of these changes provide municipalities with numerous land use planning tools to support growth management objectives. These new tools include: • Removing appeal rights for non-municipally supported settlement expansions • Setting a higher standard for local decisions to now “be consistent with” provincial planning policy as set out in the PPS • Requiring regular updates to municipal planning documents to ensure consistency with provincial policy The Provincial Policy Statement The PPS was updated with enhanced policies supporting intensification in existing settlement areas, promotion of transit supportive development, and promote the redevelopment of brownfield sites. These clearer, stronger planning rules will allow for development only in areas where sustained and supported by infrastructure. The Growth Plan The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, 2006, has been prepared under the Places to Grow Act, 2005. It is a framework for implementing the Government of Ontario’s vision for building stronger, prosperous communities by better managing growth in this region to 2031. This is a Plan that recognizes the realities facing our cities and smaller communities, and that acknowledges what governments can and cannot influence. It demonstrates leadership for improving the ways in which our cities, suburbs, towns, and villages will grow over the long-term. This Plan will guide decisions on a wide range of issues – transportation, infrastructure planning, land-use planning, urban form, housing, natural heritage and resource protection – in the interest of promoting economic prosperity. It will create a clearer environment for investment decisions and will help secure the future prosperity of the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH). This Plan builds on other key government initiatives including: the Greenbelt Plan, Planning Act reform and the Provincial Policy Statement, 2005. This Plan does not
7

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

replace municipal official plans, but works within the existing planning framework to provide growth management policy direction for the GGH. This Plan reflects a shared vision amongst the Government of Ontario, the municipalities of the GGH and its residents. Successful implementation of this Plan’s vision will be dependent upon collaborative decision-making. Greenbelt Plan The Greenbelt Plan was established in response to the increasing pressures of urban sprawl and the loss and fragmentation of agricultural lands and important ecological features. The Greenbelt covers 1.8 million acres of land in the Greater Golden Horseshoe and encompasses the existing Niagara Escarpment Plan and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan as well as the new Protected Countryside. The Protected Countryside is comprised of an Agricultural System (specialty crop areas, prime agricultural areas and rural areas), a Natural System (water resource system and natural heritage system) and Settlement Areas (existing Towns, Villages and Hamlets). The Greenbelt works in conjunction with the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe, with the Growth Plan directing where appropriate future growth and development will occur outside of the Greenbelt. Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan The Oak Ridge Moraine Conservation Plan, released in 2002, is an ecologically based plan that provides land use and resource management direction for the 190,000 hectares of land and water within the Moraine. The Plan protects the natural heritage and water resource features and functions of the Moraine, preserves agricultural land and directs urban development to approved settlement areas. Source Water Protection Plan Source water is untreated water from streams, lakes, rivers or underground aquifers that people use to for potable water supply. By stopping contaminants from getting into sources of drinking water — lakes, rivers and underground aquifers — and preventing overuse of these water resources, we can provide the first line of defence in the protection of our environment and the health of Ontarians. Source water protection complements water treatment and monitoring by reducing water quality and quantity risks to water supplies in the first place. Source Water Protection is an initiative intended to protect Ontario’s drinking water from overuse and contamination. Recognizing one of Justice O’Connor’s key recommendations from the Walkerton inquiry, the province has organized source water protection on a watershed basis. The Clean Water Act is the legislation recently passed to enable Source Water Protection, which refers to ‘watershed regions’ as the units for which Source Protection Plans will be developed. The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority has been
8

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

designated the lead for the South Georgian Bay-Lake Simcoe Watershed Region. This region is comprised of the Black-Severn, Lake Simcoe, Nottawasaga Valley and Severn Sound watersheds, and spans a geographical area of 10,702 km2. The South Georgian Bay-Lake Simcoe Watershed Region encompasses fifty-two municipalities and three First Nations communities with over 200 municipal supply wells, 16 municipal surface water intakes, and over 50,000 private wells. The region is very complex and diverse in terms of geology, physiology, population, and development pressures, with a multiplicity of existing water uses including drinking water supply, recreation, irrigation, agriculture, commercial and industrial uses, as well as supplying ecosystem needs. The Clean Water Act was introduced for First Reading on December 5, 2005, and received Royal Assent on October 19, 2006. The Act empowers Source Protection Committees to prepare plans that will characterize risks to drinking water, and recommend strategies to reduce those risks. These committees are to be comprised of local stakeholders such as landowners, business owners, community groups, municipalities, and First Nations. The Act also describes a coordinating role for Source Protection Authorities, which are to be Conservation Authorities where they exist. Education, outreach and consultation will play a vital role in ensuring the ultimate success of the Source Water Protection Plan. To achieve success and meet program objectives the Outreach and Consultation Strategy must be community-based and inclusive. To achieve this, there needs to be a strong commitment from all responsible agencies and stakeholder organizations to work together to develop and implement plans. It is also imperative that the role of existing community and non-governmental organizations be acknowledged and embraced to construct a sound foundation upon which a successful program can be built. Watershed Based Regulations In May 2006, the Province of Ontario approved Ontario Regulation 179/06 entitled “Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority: Regulation of Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses”. The format of this regulation was established by the Province in the Generic Regulation which was approved in May of 2004. All Conservation Authorities in Ontario were given two years (May 2004 to May 2006) to produce regulations and associated mapping which would conform to the Generic Regulation. This process involved extensive remapping of the entire Lake Simcoe watershed using 2002 air photos and digital elevation models, development of a Draft Regulation and a series of five (5) public open houses throughout the watershed. The intent of this regulation is twofold. Firstly, it is to protect features in the natural environment such as wetlands (and associated buffer areas), watercourses and valley systems. Secondly, to steer development away from hazard lands such as unstable slopes, flood plain, dynamic beaches, meander belts and erosion prone areas.

9

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

The preservation or enhancement of natural features such as wetlands and watercourses are important for the overall health of the watershed and significantly affects the quantity and quality of storm water runoff. Many wetlands act as giant sponges, absorbing precipitation and releasing it over long periods of time which helps to preserve base flow in creeks during periods of drought. The natural water storage in wetlands also serves to reduce peak creek flows in downstream areas. Natural watercourses with their vegetated flood plains and meandering channels help to slow the rate of water flow and provide storage, dampening the impacts of water flows and velocities in the creek. Hazardous lands such as unstable slopes, flood plain, dynamic beaches, meander belts and erosion prone areas are not suitable areas for new development. Many slopes in the watershed are relatively unstable and triggers such as vegetation removal, concentrated surface drainage or the construction of a house near the top of the slope is enough to cause slope failure. Flood plains can be dangerous areas. A number of significant flood events occur in our watershed on a yearly basis and the Regulation serves to tightly control the location and type of development in or around flood plains. Dynamic beaches are currently not a large issue in the Lake Simcoe watershed but if some are discovered in the future, the Regulation serves to restrict development in these areas. Meander belts and erosion prone areas are naturally hazardous areas adjacent to watercourses and lakes that can also impact on land and structures. The Regulation controls development within these areas and the Authority, through its Development Policies, ensures that the necessary studies are done to ensure that the development occurs in a safe location. The LSEMS Partnership, Mission and Goals Lake Simcoe is an invaluable natural and recreational resource. Lake Simcoe is part of the Trent-Severn Waterway connecting Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay and is southern Ontario's largest body of water excluding the Great Lakes. Located less than an hour drive from half the population in Ontario (Figure1.1), Lake Simcoe has been estimated to generate more than $200 million annually to the local economy through recreational activities alone, though this number is a best estimate that was calculated in 1995 for the LSEMS ‘Our Waters, Our Heritage’ report. It would be a benefit to stakeholders to update this estimation and determine the true value in today’s numbers. The lake also provides a source of drinking water for five lake shore communities and is used to assimilate municipal waste from fourteen water pollution control facilities. Unfortunately, as a result of the increase in human activities within the watershed the health of Lake Simcoe is in trouble. Impacts associated with continued urbanization and rural land use activities within the watershed have been contributing an excessive amount of sediment and nutrients (especially phosphorus) into the lake. These activities combined with other stressors on the resource such as the introduction of exotic species, climate change, increased fishing pressure, and atmospheric pollution have resulted in a significant change in ecosystem health. The lake no longer supports a self-sustaining coldwater fishery, excessive amounts of aquatic plant and algae

10

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

growth is choking beaches, marinas and private waterfronts, and the recreational industry is being threatened. To address these concerns and ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the quality of life provided by a healthy lake, a number of provincial agencies, municipalities and the local conservation authority have been working together to clean up or address the problems plaguing the lake. Known as the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy (LSEMS) a number of studies conducted in the mid-eighties resulted in the launch of an implementation program in1990. The goal and objectives of the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy are: “To improve and protect the health of the Lake Simcoe watershed ecosystem and improve associated recreational opportunities by: • • • • Restoring a self-sustaining coldwater fishery; Improving water quality; Reducing phosphorus loads to Lake Simcoe; and Protecting natural heritage features and functions.”

To date there has been three phases of the LSEMS Implementation Program (Phases I 1990-1995, Phase II 1996 -2001 and Phase III 2002-2008). A significant amount of progress has been achieved during this period with the completion of more than 350 environmental projects resulting in a phosphorus loading reduction of more than 16.5 metric tonnes. This success was tempered by the fact that an additional 25 metric reduction in phosphorus loadings is necessary to restore the health of Lake Simcoe. The LSEMS partnership grew in Phase III to include the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, all levels of government (the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Provincial Ministries of Environment, Natural Resources, Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and Municipal Affairs and Housing, Public Infrastructure Renewal, all Regional, County and local municipalities), the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and the watershed community. The addition of a Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) to the LSEMS governance model is one example of providing the public more opportunities for involvement. 1.2 Purpose of the Comprehensive Basin Wide Report

The purpose of this document is to report on the current health and quality of Lake Simcoe and its watershed (collectively “the basin”), building on the scientific benchmarks established in the 2003 State of the Watershed Report, and providing new information and data where science and monitoring have improved our understanding of the water chemistry and ecological processes within the basin. The report outlines what the lake needs in order to achieve the goals of Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy and identifies new and emerging environmental issues that must be considered.

11

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

The document discusses recent findings, watershed monitoring programs and projects, observed results from best management practices (BMPs), remedial works and pilot projects, some of which are completed and some of which are ongoing. In addition to serving as a State of the Resource Report, this document is intended to assist and inform policy and to inform decision makers who may prepare and endorse future plans for the basin by outlining potential areas of focus and options that would assist in achieving LSEMS’ stated goals The Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report was developed as required under the LSEMS Phase III Memorandum of Understanding. This report provides expanded and updated information on the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy document “State of the Lake Simcoe Watershed, 2003” and goes further to provide a series of options to address the concerns raised in that report. The report does not include recommendations related to policy and/or regulation development as these avenues are being examined through development of the proposed Lake Simcoe Protection Act. Public consultation has been an extremely important component of the report development with continuous input being sought throughout the process. Public consultation sessions were held early in the process, and additional comments from all stakeholders have been incorporated into the document. With the community’s help we have been able to develop a vision of watershed residents’ expectations for a healthy Lake Simcoe watershed. With the completion of this report the real hard work remains. Implementing the recommendations and undertaking the remedial work necessary to restore and maintain the health and quality of Lake Simcoe will not be easy and comes at a high price. However, the cost to do nothing both to the natural environment and the quality of life for the hundreds of thousands of watershed residents would be much, much higher. Our future direction is clear, all that remains is the willingness to act, move forward, and complete the works that need to be done. Rationale for Change in Focus of the CBWR In March 2007, the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy Steering Committee identified one of its objectives as the completion of the Comprehensive Basin Wide Plan to provide key technical information for consideration in any future LSEMS arrangement. In July 2007, the province announced its intention to create the proposed Lake Simcoe Protection Act, which may significantly change the context for future policy and governance for Lake Simcoe. This action resulted in the Steering Committee re-evaluating the scope from a plan to a report that articulates what the Lake needs and provides important information for the provincial process. The Steering Committee believes that this report provides an excellent foundation of science and data on the current state of the basin, the identification and assessment of potential new tools, as well as an overview of emerging scientific practices and issues.

12

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

2.0 Water Quality
The Water issues identified in the 2003 State of the Lake Simcoe Watershed report completed by the partners of the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy (LSEMS) were: • • • Water quality of the Lake and its tributaries is being degraded due to pollution sources originating from atmospheric, urban, rural, recreational (cottages), and agricultural land use activities; Phosphorus pollution is the main water quality parameter of concern resulting in a reduction in dissolved oxygen concentrations of the lakes bottom waters and poor recruitment of cold water fish species; More monitoring data for both surface and groundwater is required to effectively quantify and qualify the sources of pollutants, for surveillance (to assess any new sources of contamination), and the determination of long term trends; Water use and the availability of aquatic habitats have been impacted by decreases in streamflow; Areas of groundwater quality vulnerability need to be identified and protected to ensure clean sources of private and municipal drinking water; Greater understanding of atmospheric deposition of Phosphorous and others is required through a study of the source of airborne pollutants and their relative significance in the airshed; Impact of increased population growth and resultant development related to an increase of impervious surfaces and associated ramifications Introduction

• • • •

2.1

The quality of water is extremely important to the health of Lake Simcoe and the activities it supports. Three of the four LSEMS goals are directly related to water quality in the watershed; while the fourth, which relates to natural heritage, can also have an impact on water quality. The lake is a source of drinking water for several communities. The health of aquatic species, including fish and invertebrates, is dependent on water quality; many of these species are sensitive to changes in water quality such as water chemistry and clarity. Changes in water quality can impact ecosystems, such as the imbalance of phosphorus and other nutrients encouraging the excessive growth of aquatic plants and algae, which in turn leads to decreases in oxygen concentration as these plants die and decompose. Deterioration of water quality also inhibits recreational opportunities, either directly (an example would be the presence of bacteria such as Escherichia coli at a beach); or indirectly (such as the nuisance growth of plants and algae interfering with activities including angling and fishing). It is important to address declining water quality, as it can have considerable impacts on human and ecosystem health; and can also impact the economic viability of industries that depend on the lake and water.
13

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

There are several parameters that have contributed to the deterioration of water quality in the Lake Simcoe watershed. The most significant of these is phosphorus; other notable parameters include sediment, chlorides, and bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli). Dissolved oxygen levels in the lake are also an important parameter, as this is the main parameter of concern in the lake for the sensitive fish species such as lake trout. Sources of pollutants to the lake are numerous and varied, and include direct-to-lake atmospheric deposition, urban and agricultural runoff, septic systems, industrial discharges and water pollution control plants (WPCP). The tributaries that discharge into the lake carry with them pollutants from the subwatersheds they drain, and are examined in more detail in the tributary section of this plan. Much work has been completed by the LSEMS partners to better understand pollutant sources and the most effective ways to reduce them.

2.1.2

Current Lake Conditions and Issues

Monitoring Water Quality in the Lake Today The Ontario Ministry of the Environment currently monitors water quality in Lake Simcoe at 8 in-lake sites and 3 municipal water intakes; although up to 12 in-lake sites and 4 municipal water intakes have been monitored for varying period over the past 20+ years. Water quality (untreated) at the 3 municipal drinking water intake stations (Beaverton, Keswick, Sutton) is assessed on an approximately weekly basis year round; municipal drinking water is obtained from Lake Simcoe via pipes located at varying depths and distances offshore. The 8 in-lake stations that are currently sampled – three in Cook’s Bay, three in Kempenfelt Bay, and two in the open lake - are visited approximately twice monthly through the ice-free season (May to October), and composite water samples from the euphotic zone (the depth to which light can penetrate the water) are analyzed for phytoplankton biovolume and concentrations of total phosphorus, chlorophyll ‘a’ and other chemicals using standard methods. In addition, dissolved oxygen and temperature profiles and water clarity are measured at each site concurrent with water quality sampling. Water clarity is evaluated by lowering a black and white Secchi disk through the water column and its visibility is recorded as the water depth at which the disk is no longer visible to an observer at the water surface. Dissolved oxygen is measured with a probe at 1 metre depth intervals to the lake bottom in order to evaluate changes in oxygen with depth and over time (Scott et al., 2005). Phosphorus in the Lake While phosphorus and other nutrients are naturally present in the environment and are required by plants for growth, the phosphorus levels in Lake Simcoe have become unnaturally high due to human activities. Phosphorus originates from many sources in the watershed including natural sources such as groundwater, organic material, sediment, and the weathering of phosphorus-containing rocks, and anthropogenic sources such as urban and agricultural runoff, discharges from WPCPs, faulty septic
14

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

systems, industrial processes, and the atmosphere. The phosphorus over-fertilizes the lake, accelerating the growth of aquatic plants and algae. The increased plant growth alters fish and wildlife habitat, impedes recreation, and upsets the natural balance of the lake. When the plants and algae die off, the process of decomposition consumes oxygen in the water. This oxygen is critical for sensitive fish species such as lake trout, lake whitefish and lake herring, and the decrease in the dissolved oxygen concentration in the lake is a significant factor in the inability of the lake to support a self-sustaining coldwater fishery. It is estimated that the annual phosphorus load prior to settlement of the watershed by Europeans was approximately 32 tonnes/year (Nicholls, 1997). With the initiation of the LSEMS program in 1990, a target for the annual phosphorus load was set at 75 tonnes; a level which scientists estimated would achieve a minimum end-of-summer dissolved oxygen level of 5 mg/L in the deep waters of the lake. Achievement of this concentration of dissolved oxygen is a necessary step in the re-establishment of selfsustaining coldwater fish populations in the lake. The relationship between phosphorus and dissolved oxygen is well established (Nicholls, 1995). The 75 tonne phosphorus loading and 5 mg/L dissolved oxygen targets were considered to be an interim, achievable targets; it was recognized that lake trout likely experience some stress at concentrations as low as 5 mg/L in late summer. Additional activities to ensure that the physical habitat required by these sensitive species is protected and/or restored, may be necessary to meet the LSEMS goal of a self-sustaining coldwater fish population. Annual contributions from the various sources of phosphorus, as well as the total annual load to the lake, can vary greatly between years. The loads are particularly affected by climate and precipitation, but also by human activities. The relative load from each of the sources described below can be found in Figure 2.1. The average annual load to the lake from the last period of record (1998-2004) was 67 tonnes from all sources, which is below the LSEMS target of 75 tonnes (Winter et al, 2007). This load is much lower than the average annual load from the last period of record (1990-1998), which was approximately 102 tonnes (Scott et al, 2001). While this reduction in the annual load is seen as a very positive step, and a portion of the load reduction can certainly be attributed to the works of various agencies throughout the watershed, it is not expected that the annual load will continue to be lower than the target indefinitely. Because climate influences phosphorus loading, changes in climate patterns in any year can dramatically alter the phosphorus load. The ACS study concluded that continued growth and ongoing development in the watershed will also cause an increase in the phosphorus load without the corresponding implementation of Best Management Practices.

15

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Figure 2.1: Sources of phosphorus loading (in average tonnes per year) in the Lake Simcoe watershed (total of 67 tonnes/yr, average loading from 1998-2004)

Phosphorus Sources: Tributaries and the Holland Marsh The input referred to as the ‘tributary load’ is among the highest contributions of phosphorus loads to the body of the lake. The tributary load represents the phosphorus inputs to surface water from rural and agricultural areas, and also runoff from urban areas that lie upstream of monitoring stations. The agricultural component of the tributary load includes livestock, milkhouse waste, and fertilizer runoff. Tributaries accounted for 25.8% in 1999-2000 to 45.7% in 2000-2001; total loads ranged from 18.3 tons per year in 2001-2002 to 32.3 tons per year in 2000-2001 and averaged 24.7 tons per year of total phosphorus for the period from 1998-2004 (Scott et al., 2005). The watershed’s four vegetable polders (the Keswick, Colbar, Bradford, and Holland marshes) are an additional source of phosphorus to the lake. A polder is an agricultural area which at one point was a wetland, but has been drained so that the rich soils can be used for growing vegetables. Water levels in these polders are controlled by a series of pumping systems and canals. Water is either pumped from the canals in the polders onto the fields for irrigation, or pumped from the fields to the canals to drain excess moisture. This pump-off water is then conveyed to the lake via a pumping station. The water that is pumped off of the fields is generally very high in nutrients, so the load from this source is much higher in years with high precipitation levels when more water is pumped off of the fields. The phosphorus contained in the pump-off
16

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

water is mainly from the fertilizers used on the crops, and is therefore the form of phosphorus that is most available for the uptake of plants and algae. In an effort to determine what the best methods for reducing the loads from the largest polder are, the Holland Marsh, the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) undertook an Environmental Assessment in 2003/2004. The preferred solution found through this process was a combination of Best Management Practices in the Holland Marsh to reduce the amount of phosphorus in the pump off water, and the treatment of the polder water at a centralized treatment plant. While this solution would reduce the amount of phosphorus being released into the lake, both the capital costs and the operational costs to run and maintain the treatment facility would be extremely high, and would be difficult to justify in years with low levels of precipitation when there is little water being pumped from the fields, and thus a lower load to the lake. Alternative solutions, which are more cost effective, are currently being investigated and range from the use of cover crops to minimized soil erosion to detailed nutrient management of the soils reducing nutrient application. One of the most promising of these is the application of Phoslock™ to canals in the inner marsh. Phoslock™ is a modified clay product which removes phosphorus from the water column, and then settles in the sediment, where it will continue to remove phosphorus from the water as long as it has active binding sites. This product is environmentally safe, and has been used in several countries, including Australia, the U.S., and the Netherlands to mitigate or reduce the process of eutrophication in lakes, rivers and drinking water impoundments. Laboratory tests of this product have been completed by the LSRCA. The LSRCA will be partnering with the Province to undertake a pilot project to examine the use of Phoslock™ in the Lake Simcoe basin including the Holland marsh. Phosphorus Sources: Direct Urban Runoff and Septic Systems i. Urban Runoff

Phosphorus loads from urban areas originate from point and non-point sources. The point source inputs are discharges from WPCPs; these are discussed in the section below. Runoff of stormwater from urban areas is a non-point source of phosphorus. Urban runoff can carry with it phosphorus from lawn fertilizers, pet waste and detergents (e.g. from car washing). In older urban areas it was common practice to route stormwater directly to inflowing tributaries or to the lake. Over the last two decades efforts have been made to intercept and treat stormwater before it enters the watercourses. Urban areas that have stormwater quality control facilities that remove phosphorus from the runoff have a significantly lower load than those without. Control facilities are now typically incorporated into new urban developments in the watershed. Phosphorus loads in runoff from urban areas located upstream from monitoring stations were included in the ‘Tributary Load’ discussed in the previous section. The average annual load from urban areas downstream of the monitoring stations or discharging

17

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

directly to the lake was estimated at 9 tonnes for the period from 1998 to 2004 (Scott et al., 2005). ii. Septic Systems

Septic systems around the perimeter of the lake also contribute to the annual load. This load comes from septic systems that are located within 100 metres of the lake – it is estimated that there will be nutrient discharge from a certain number of septic systems each year. Since the last phosphorus leading report (Scott et al., 2005), a number of homes in the Town of Georgina previously utilizing private septic systems have been connected to the municipal waste water treatment plant, which will reduce the septic system load to the lake. There will be an increase in the WPCP load because of the increase in material being treated from these homes, but a net reduction in phosphorus loads can be expected. It was estimated for the period from 1998-2004 that septic systems contribute an average of 4 tonnes each year to the annual load. Phosphorus Sources: Water Pollution Control Plants There are 14 WPCPs that discharge into the Lake Simcoe watershed; 7 of these discharge directly into the lake. The WPCPs in the Lake Simcoe watershed are among the most efficient in Ontario at removing nutrients. Strict caps were placed on these facilities through the LSEMS program in order to protect the water quality of the lake. The average annual load from the WPCPs for the last period of record (1998-2004) was 4.5 tonnes (Scott et al., 2005). Phosphorus Sources: Atmospheric Deposition The atmospheric load has been one of the most significant sources of phosphorus to the lake, ranging from a low of 25% to a high of 49% of the annual load from 1998 to 2004 (Scott et al., 2005). Pollutants (including phosphorus in various forms) travel in the atmosphere. These pollutants fall to the surface of the lake through wet or dry deposition. Gases or particles removed by wet deposition are deposited to the surface by rain, sleet, snow or fog. Dry deposition deposits particles and gases in the absence of precipitation, namely by adsorption, impaction and settling (USGS-1, 2005). It generally occurs when land is stripped of its vegetative cover for activities such as construction, aggregate operations, unpaved roads, or when fields are stripped bare on agricultural lands between crops, and the soil becomes exposed to the erosive forces of wind. Soil-bound contaminants suspended in the atmosphere are deposited when the wind conditions are such that the particles settle out of the air flow. The LSEMS partners have estimated atmospheric phosphorus loading for the years from 1990-2004 through the following steps: 1) The depth of precipitation over the lake was estimated by averaging the measured rainfall depths from the available gauges, and multiplying the average rainfall depth by the surface area of the lake.

18

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

2)

The nutrient concentrations in the rainfall were then determined by averaging the nutrient concentrations in the available rain quality stations (from 1995 to 2004; concentration prior to 1995 were estimated). Atmospheric loads were calculated by multiplying the average rainfall nutrient concentrations by the volume of rainfall over the lake.

3)

A limitation of this method is that the spatial variability of rainfall across the lake is lost, as a relatively small number of monitoring stations are averaged across the entire lake, although precipitation rarely falls uniformly across the large area of the watershed. The phosphorus concentration in the precipitation can vary considerably as well. For example, if a localized rain event falls only over a small area of the watershed, or moves across the lake, one of two things can happen. The first is that the storm may not occur over and thus will not be registered on a rain gauge, which would result in an underestimation of rainfall, and thus phosphorus loading. The second is that the event is captured by a single rain gauge, and the rainfall depth registered by that gauge is averaged with the other rain gauges, resulting in an average rainfall depth that is presumed to have fallen over the entire surface of the lake and an overestimation of the volume of rain, and thus of phosphorus loading. The phosphorus concentration of the rain captured in the rain quality gauges can also have an impact. Because of the small number of rain gauges across the lake, the rain depth and phosphorus concentration at each gauge has a significant influence on calculations of average rain depth and loading. However, previous studies have found that even densely placed rain and quality gauges may not be capable of capturing heavy rainfall areas, so although a denser gauge network would certainly more accurately depict rainfall and precipitation phosphorus concentration over the lake, it still may under- or overestimate loading. In order to capture the spatial variability of precipitation depth over the surface of the lake, researchers at the University of Guelph have undertaken a study that investigates the use of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Next Generation Radar (NEXRAD) to spatially represent rainfall data, as well as a method to correct radar-rainfall estimates to rainfall recorded by local rain gauges. NEXRAD is available online from 1997 to present from the Buffalo radar station, which covers the entire lake. The radar product used in the study was the Digital Precipitation Array (DPA) which presents one hour estimated rainfall accumulation in inches (NCDC 2005, Smith et al. 2004) for a grid of approximately 4 x 4 km over the lake (see Figure 2.2) below for a map of the spatial distribution of rainfall over the lake). Along with radarestimates, rain quality data was spatially interpolated and both radar and interpolated rain quality data was used in atmospheric deposition calculations. The calculations of phosphorus loads over Lake Simcoe using the radar-based model differ greatly from those calculated using the historical method. The difference ranged between 5 and 168%, with some estimates being above the historic loading calculations, and some below. While it was concluded that the radar-based estimates were a powerful tool for helping to determine the spatial variability of precipitation over the lake, there is also significant review required of the radar imagery to reduce potentials sources of error to ensure a high quality data set. Potential sources of error
19

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

items such as ground clutter, where radar beams reflect off of trees, buildings or hills and this registers as precipitation; low hanging clouds can reflect absorb the radar beam such that far off storms are not registered, resulting in an underestimation of precipitation; precipitation that occurs aloft but does not hit the ground can be registered as rain on the ground though none occurred; or the radar beam may overshoot low hanging rain clouds and not register any precipitation. This review process (QA/QC) ensures that information being utilized to determine precipitation patterns is accurate. The researchers found that there was a linear relationship between average rainfall depth and total phosphorus loads, and that rainfall depth exerted a greater influence over phosphorus loading than did phosphorus concentrations in the precipitation. The researchers found that the application of weather radar provided a method that significantly improved the accuracy of calculation of rainfall depth and its spatial distribution over the lake. An important portion of the atmospheric load that the LSEMS partners had not been able to estimate is what proportion of this load originates from local sources versus more distant locations in the airshed. It may be possible to mitigate local sources, which could have a significant impact on this load if a high proportion originates from local sources. To enhance our understanding of phosphorus loading from local sources, the researchers at the University of Guelph are currently undertaking a study to calculate the dry deposition of phosphorus based on a detailed analysis of wind velocity and direction data and air quality data, giving special attention to local sources in the vicinity of the lake. A United States Environmental Protection Agency airshed model called CALPUFF will be utilized to estimate the contribution of various local sources (i.e. quarries, industrial sources, agriculture, and active developments) to dry atmospheric deposition of phosphorous to Lake Simcoe. This model will include the effect of seasonal wind patterns and other factors such as land usage. The researchers will be advising the LSEMS partners on an enhanced monitoring program that will complement the research, which will be undertaken in the summer of 2008. These new monitoring stations will help the LSEMS partners to better estimate the precipitation volume as well as the atmospheric loads across the basin.

20

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Figure 2.2: Spatial distribution of rainfall accumulation over the watershed from June 8 – June 21, 2005 (Gharabaghi and Ramkellewan, 2006)

Limiting Phosphorus Loading from Atmospheric Sources In order to quantify the amount of phosphorus contributed to the Lake Simcoe from atmospheric sources, precipitation monitoring has been conducted since 1995. Regular samples taken from bulk precipitation collectors are analyzed for total phosphorus and phosphorus loads are calculated by multiplying the phosphorus concentration in the bulk precipitation by the recorded volume of precipitation. The total atmospheric phosphorus load for 1998 was 40.1 tonnes accounting for almost 40% of the total estimated load to the lake that year. Recent research from the University of Guelph has indicated that the bulk of atmospheric deposition comes from local sources contributing windborne particulate containing both naturally occurring and derived phosphorus. As with other air quality issues, the factors affecting atmospheric phosphorus loading to the lake range beyond the Lake Simcoe watershed itself. Reductions can be achieved by implementing best management practices to control soil erosion and excess dust at work sites. Some of these practices should include the adoption and enforcement of soil conservation by-laws, the planting of wind breaks, proper remediation of aggregate operations, and the preservation of existing vegetation. In the agricultural sector
21

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

sustainable methods for increasing the organic content of soils such as the use of no-till techniques, retention of crop residue, and cover crop management practices which hold soil in place need to be adopted. Sources of dust from commercial operations such as construction sites and aggregate pits can include: on-site traffic, drilling, loading and unloading of raw materials or finished product, crushing, screening, transfer and stockpiling material. Wind erosion or dust control consists of applying water or chemical dust suppressants as necessary to prevent or alleviate dust generated by such activities. It should be noted that the use of chemical dust suppressants can also pose a risk to the environment from other chemicals contained in the suppressant and have been known to harm plants, wetlands, fish and other aquatic organisms. (Ministry of Transportation, 2007) Covering small stockpiles or areas is an alternative to applying water or chemical suppressants. Other methods could be as simple as controlling the speed of traffic on sites, installation of wind fencing or the construction of berms to keep the length of time soils are exposed to a minimum. Sediment The presence of suspended sediment can be a significant concern in aquatic environments for several reasons. Chemical contaminants in the water can bind to the surface of sediment particles. When the particles are filtered by aquatic organisms such as mussels, the contaminants enter the food chain. Sediment in the water reduces the amount of sunlight that can penetrate the water to make it possible for plants to grow, clogs the gills of fish and aquatic insects, and blankets substrates that fish use for spawning and benthic invertebrates use for habitat. In the lake itself, sedimentation degrades spawning habitat for fish including lake trout and has contributed to the decline of some of the sensitive fish communities. Sources of sediment include stormwater runoff and wind erosion from urban and agricultural areas and construction sites, roads, and the erosion of stream banks. In general, natural areas input very little sediment into waterbodies – the roots of natural vegetation holds soil in place, and also slows the flow of stormwater, which causes the sediment to settle out of the runoff before it reaches a watercourse. Water clarity is measured at the open lake stations maintained by the Ministry of the Environment. The measurement taken to determine water clarity is called a Secchi depth, which measures the point at which a black and white disk is no longer visible to the naked eye. Suspended sediments and phytoplankton (floating, single-celled algae) decrease the depth to which the Secchi disk is visible. Higher Secchi disk measurements are an indication of clearer water. Secchi disk visibility has increased markedly at the lake sampling sites beginning in the mid 1990s. This increase is thought to have been caused by the introduction of zebra mussels, that filter particulate matter from the water as they feed. There has also been a reduction in the volume of phytoplankton in the water column, as has been measured by the Ministry of the Environment. Phytoplankton biomass is highly correlated with phosphorus concentrations; therefore the recent reductions in phosphorus concentration at the open-lake stations are likely also influencing water clarity. This increased water clarity,
22

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

in combination with the unique way that zebra mussels process nutrients in the nearshore environment, are hypothesized to be one of the major factors in the proliferation of aquatic plants and attached algae in the lake. Chloride Chloride levels have been consistently increasing in the waters of the lake over the past 20 years, going up by 0.65 to 0.78 mg/L each year (see Figure 2.3). While current chloride levels in the lake are unlikely to pose a biological threat, they demonstrate that substantial runoff from urban surfaces is entering the lake, and it is likely that chloride levels will continue to increase given the continued growth in the watershed. At high concentrations, chloride can impact the health of fish and aquatic insects, and can also have a detrimental impact on both aquatic and terrestrial plants, which provide an important food source and habitat for many species of aquatic life.

Figure 2.3: Increase in average annual chloride concentration (mg/L) at municipal water intakes on Lake Simcoe (Eimers and Winter, 2005)

Dissolved Oxygen Dissolved oxygen is measured by LSEMS partners in both the tributaries and in the body of the lake. Dissolved oxygen levels are influenced by several factors, particularly water temperature and the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), or the amount of oxygen required by the fish, plants, bacteria and other organisms in the water body to
23

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

perform their life cycle functions. Dissolved oxygen concentrations decline with increasing water temperatures, and the decomposition of plant and animal matter also uses dissolved oxygen. It is for this reason that the increased growth of plants and algae associated with high levels of phosphorus are of particular concern – as phosphorus levels increase, plant growth is stimulated, resulting in more plant biomass. Dissolved oxygen is consumed as this large amount of plant tissue is decomposed, resulting in decreased concentrations. Low dissolved oxygen concentrations in the deep areas (hypolimnion) of the lake have been a concern for some time. Because the lake becomes stratified throughout the summer months (the warmer surface water and the cool bottom waters separate), the dissolved oxygen in the depths of the lake is not replenished until late in the fall when the lake temperature equalizes and the lake becomes mixed again. It is in these cool, deep areas that the most sensitive species in the lake reside – species including lake trout, lake whitefish and lake herring. Toward the end of the summer, dissolved oxygen concentrations are at their lowest, and often reach levels so low that these species are not able to carry out the functions of their life cycles. This has led to the decline and near disappearance of most of these fish species, the populations of which are now maintained through annual stocking efforts. Efforts associated with reducing phosphorus loads to the lake will also help to restore the dissolved oxygen conditions that these fish need in order for their populations to recover. Results from the latest period of record (2000-2003) indicate that there has been an increase in end-of-summer dissolved oxygen concentrations in the bottom waters of the lake (Fig. 2.4). Overall, deep water oxygen levels have been increasing in recent years, and were higher than the LSEMS objective in 2005 to 2007 (Jennifer Winter, MOE, personal communication). Recent scientific research by Dr. David Evans (OMNR) has indicated that there is significant connection between zebra mussels, nutrient cycling and dissolved oxygen in particular in Kempenfelt Bay. This new information indicates the key habitat area for juvenile lake trout is in Kempenfelt Bay due to both the physical habitat (deep) as well as dissolved oxygen availability. This information raises concern that phosphorus loading into Kempenfelt Bay may require more stringent targets and action to ensure that this critical habitat is maintained. Further study would be required to assess all the factors involved as well as the interaction between the lake strata.

24

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Figure 2.4: Minimum (end-of-summer) volume-weighted DO concentration and average temperature in the 18 m-bottom zone of Lake Simcoe at station K42 in Kempenfelt Bay (Eimers and Winter, 2005)

Emerging Issues - Lake Bacteria The presence of bacteria in surface waters has become a significant concern in recent years. Municipal health units monitor the health of local beaches at regular intervals throughout the summer to ensure that they are safe for human contact. The Provincial Water Quality Objective for body-contact recreation has been defined by the Ministry of the Environment by using the relative numbers of Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria as an indicator to assess the risk to human health. E. coli are faecal bacteria found in the intestines of mammals, and there are some strains that can cause serious illness in humans. E. coli and other types of bacteria are naturally found in our waters; beaches are only designated as being unsafe for bathing activities when levels of E. coli exceed than the PWQO. Incidences of high levels of E. coli in the lake’s waters indicate contamination by human sewage or animal wastes. While there are other reasons for beach postings, including water turbidity, the presence of blue-green algae, or poor aesthetics, closures in Lake Simcoe are generally due to high levels of E. coli. The number of beach closures due to high concentrations of E. coli varies from year to year (see Figure 2.5 below for the 2005 beach posting results for the lake), as they are heavily influenced by precipitation levels. Storm water can carry with it animal waste from farms with livestock, as well as from pet and waterfowl waste; and saturated soils can transport waste leaking from malfunctioning septic systems, resulting in high levels in the nearshore bathing areas.
25

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

There are many steps that can be taken to reduce the number and duration of beach closures including stormwater management, proper storage of livestock waste and keeping livestock away from watercourses to reduce contamination, picking up pet waste, and taking measures to deter waterfowl from shoreline areas.

70

3.5

60

3.0

Duration of Postings (days)

50

2.5

40

2.0

30

1.5

20

1.0

10

0.5

0
Po Pen rt Bols te insu la M r, York o Hol mes tel, Yo rk Jac kso Point, n's Y Poin ork De t, Y ork Fra La Sal nkli le, Y Will nB ork ow Wh each, Yor arf D Will k ock ow/ , Yo Par rk adis Balf e, Y ou ork Kes r Beac wick h, Y ork Bea Cla red ch, I Yor Bar sland G on Bea k rie C ch, rove Yor ente Bea k nnia c l Pa h, Yor Gab k rk, S les imc Joh o nso Beach , Sim e Min ns B ets coe Poin each, Si t Be Tyn ach mcoe dale ,S Wilk Beach imcoe , Sim ins Be 9t c Alco h Line ach, S oe imc Bea na N oe ch, orth Alco Si Inni na Sou Beach mcoe , Sim sfil Cen th Bea coe ch tenn ial P , Simc Leo oe ark, nar d's O S Bea ro Mem Beach imcoe ve , Sim or Bea rton Be ial Par c k, S oe vert ach im on B Nor th, D coe eac hS outh urham Tho , Du rah Bea rha m ch, Dur ham

0.0

Duration No. of Postings

Figure 2.5: Number and duration of Beach Postings, Lake Simcoe Watershed, 2006 (Simcoe County, Durham Region and York Region Health Departments)

Aquatic Plants Aquatic plants are a natural part of healthy aquatic ecosystems and are beneficial in many ways. They produce oxygen through the process of photosynthesis, which assists in overall lake functioning. Areas with plants support food for fish, such as insect larvae, crustaceans, and snails. Aquatic plant beds offer shelter for fish, and provide nursery and spawning grounds. Submerged plants provide food for waterfowl and habitat for insects on which some water fowl feed. Aquatic plants also help maintain water quality by stabilizing sediment (LSEMS Technical Bulletin, 2003).
26

No. of Postings

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Although aquatic plants are an important part of the Lake Simcoe ecosystem, in large quantities plants can become a nuisance. The dense growth of aquatic plants, particularly in Cook’s Bay, has been one of the most significant issues identified by watershed residents in recent years. The plants interfere with boating, particularly in shallow, still areas such as marinas and nearshore areas; get caught in anglers’ lines; detract from recreational swimming experiences; and reduce lake front homeowners’ enjoyment of their properties. Some municipalities incur significant costs in attempting to harvest some of the plants in order mitigate some of the aforementioned impacts. In order to help us to better understand and address this issue, the LSRCA enlisted the services of the consulting firm Stantec to study the macrophyte community in Cook’s Bay. An inventory of the aquatic plants of Cook’s Bay was conducted in August of 2006 (Stantec, 2007), for contrast to data collected in 1984 and 1987, and to provide a baseline against which to assess future change. Samples were collected along transects radiating from near shore (1 m depth) to a depth of 9 m along the west, south and east shorelines of Cook’s Bay. Routine water quality parameters (dissolved oxygen, temperature, and pH) were measured where plant samples were collected. A qualitative mapping inventory of emergent vegetation was also conducted. While Cook’s Bay is naturally a shallow area that supports a healthy aquatic plant and warmwater fish community, increases in phosphorus concentration over the past several decades have stimulated enough growth to upset the natural balance in this area. Macrophyte growth in Cook’s Bay is dense enough to have had significant effects on water quality. Dissolved oxygen levels were observed to be significantly depressed in localized areas such as offshore from Gilford (west side of the bay) during early morning. This is due to the respiration of the plants that occurs at night. Associated with the low dissolved oxygen levels was lower pH. Super-saturation of dissolved oxygen levels were also observed in Cook’s Bay in mid- to late-afternoon sampling periods, due to plant photosynthesis. Total macrophyte biomass of Cook’s Bay has increased between 1987 and 2006 and is likely attributed to zebra mussel colonization and their impact on water clarity and nearshore nutrient cycling. 1995. Neil et al. (1988) reported an average standing crop wet weight biomass of 1.2 kg/m2 for the survey in 1987, with plants limited to water depths of < 6 to 8 m. In this 2006 survey, average biomass (across all stations) was 1.4 kg/m2, while plants were not found in water deeper than 8.5 m, and the greatest densities were in water < 4 m deep, consistent with the 1987 survey. The distributions of the various plant species varied with depth in a typical fashion. The stonewort Chara, flat-stemmed pondweed and tapegrass were limited to shallower waters of about < 4 m in depth, whereas coontail and Elodea canadensis were less restricted, and abundant at up to a water depth of 7 m. Current management options for the control of macrophytes include manual harvesting, nutrient reduction, biological control, and chemical treatment. Manual harvesting is ongoing in Cook’s Bay along the eastern shoreline. The bay, however, is simply too
27

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

large to implement a largescale harvesting operation, though local control will provide temporary relief of unaesthetic buildups. The present harvesting is limited to the collection of plants that have broken off or died and have washed along the shorelines; active harvesting of live weeds rooted to the bottom is discouraged as the plants are significant fish habitat. If large scale control options were to be considered they would require significant investigation into the need, methods chosen, and impacts to the ecology of the lake and fish habitat and also removal could cause a release of phosphorus from exposed sediments. Additional research is also being conducted by a research group from the University of Waterloo, supported by the Ministry of the Environment (MOE), whose research objectives are to: 1) 2) 3) 4) 5) Establish the extent and composition of benthic biomass in the littoral zone of Lake Simcoe; Establish the environmental factors that control benthic plants growth; Define the interactions, both positive and negative, between benthic plant growth and zebra and quagga mussels; Develop and validate a model for benthic plant growth in Lake Simcoe for management of the near shore environment; Determine whether increased benthic plant biomass is influencing the composition and growth of phytoplankton in the open lake.

Preliminary results from this research indicate that the areal coverage and biomass of macrophytes in Cook’s Bay has increased compared to 1984 and 1987 surveys and that phosphorus concentrations in plant tissue may be lower than the earlier surveys. This may suggest that the recent increase in macrophyte coverage and biomass is mainly attributed to increased light penetration as a result of the colonization of zebra mussels. Additional information (monitoring, analysis) is needed to better understand the linkages and potentially negative interactions between aquatic macrophyte growth and the quality of habitat for benthic macroinvertebrates and fish in Cook’s Bay and other areas of Lake Simcoe. Cook’s Bay is the principal area of concern in Lake Simcoe but an increase in resident complaints in other areas is requiring further investigation. Additional information is also needed to evaluate other areas of the lake that may be of concern, as well as to understand the factors influencing the growth of macrophytes, and the potential to reduce macrophyte growths through reduction in nutrient loads. Continued monitoring of the aquatic macrophytes in Cook’s Bay at two- to three-year intervals in the long term would provide data that could be used to demonstrate changes in standing stock biomass, and the influence of any mitigation actions taken.

28

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

2.1.3 Current Tributary Conditions and Issues
Monitoring Water Quality in the Tributaries Today Water quality in rivers and streams is a function of both natural processes and anthropogenic impacts. For example, natural processes such as weathering of minerals and various kinds of erosion can affect the quality of groundwater and surface water. Anthropogenic influences on water quality are generally grouped into point source and non-point source impacts. As can be seen from the figure on page 10, Lake Simcoe’s tributaries contribute a significant portion of the annual phosphorus load to the lake. Point sources of pollution are direct inputs of contaminants to the surface water or groundwater system, such as municipal and industrial wastewater discharges, ruptured underground storage tanks, and landfills. Non-point sources include, but are not exclusive to, agricultural drainage, urban runoff, land clearing, construction activity and land application of waste that typically travel to waterways through surface runoff and infiltration. Contaminants delivered by point and non-point sources can travel in suspension and/or solution and are characterized by routine sampling of surface waters in the Lake Simcoe watershed. Currently there are two programs that monitor water quality in Lake Simcoe watershed tributaries, the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy (LSEMS) and the Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network (PWQMN) Figure 2.6. The LSEMS program focuses primarily on nutrients and samples at 14 locations bi-weekly. The PWQMN program collects a wider suite of parameters on a monthly basis at 12 locations. In some locations PWQMN data stretches back to 1965, allowing for long term trends to be examined.

29

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Figure 2.6 – Monitoring stations in the Lake Simcoe Watershed

Phosphorus Long term total phosphorus concentrations at select PWQMN stations show marked reductions in total phosphorus concentrations since the 1960’s and 1970’s. These stations include West Holland, Tannery Creek, Mt Albert Creek, Beaver River, Pefferlaw Brook, Lovers Creek and Schomberg River, as these stations have long term records. Reductions in total phosphorus concentrations are particularly evident in historic data for the East Holland River where changes in waste water treatment and regulation show
30

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

dramatic reductions, and further reductions after 1984 when the WPCP was taken off line (see Figure 2.7).
Figure 2.7 - East Holland Phosphorus Concentrations 1965 - 1995 (mg/L)

1991 - 1995

1986 - 1990

1981 - 1985

1976 - 1980

1971 - 1975

1965 - 1970

0

1 PWQO = 0.03mg/L Median

2 mg/L

3

10

11

While very little monitoring was conducted in the latter half of the 1990’s, decreasing total phosphorus concentrations are still evidenced in current data. A statistical test (seasonal Kendall) found a decreasing trend in all the stations listed above except for Lovers Creek. Figure 2.8 shows data for Beaver River from 1973 on, and Figure 2.9 displays data from the Lovers Creek from 1975 on. Although the data describe a decreasing trend in phosphorus concentrations many stations still exceed the Provincial Water Quality Objective (PWQO) of 0.03 mg/L as can be seen in Figure 2.10 (Phosphorus Concentrations at all PWQMN stations 2002 – 2006). The data is displayed as box plots in 5 year data pools against the interim Provincial Water Quality Objective (PWQO) of 0.03 mg/L for total phosphorus in rivers. Monitoring and reporting conducted by the LSEMS partners also describe a reduction in tributary phosphorus loads and concentrations over the 1998 – 2004 reporting period.

31

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Figure 2.8 - Beaver River Phosphorus Concentrations 1972 - 1993, 2002 - 2006 (mg/L)

2002 - 2006

1991 - 1993

1986 - 1990

1981 - 1985

1976 - 1980

1972 - 1975

0.0 PWQO = 0.03mg/L Median

0.1 mg/L

0.2

Figure 2.9 - Lovers Creek Phosphorus Concentrations 1975 - 1998, 2002 - 2006 (mg/L)

2002 - 2006

1996 - 1998

1991 - 1995

1986 - 1990

1981 - 1985

1975 - 1980

0.00

0.05 PWQO = 0.03mg/L Median

0.10 mg/L

0.15

0.20

32

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Figure 2.10 - Phosphorus Concentrations at all PWQMN Stations 2003 - 2006 (mg/L)

W Holland Uxbridge Tannery Schomberg Pefferlaw Mt. Albert Maskinonge Lovers Holland Landing Hawkstone Black Beaver

0.0

0.1

0.2 mg/L

0.3

0.4

0.5

PWQO = 0.03mg/L

Chloride Concentrations of chloride have been increasing in Lake Simcoe’s subwatersheds and in the lake itself, an indication of the increasing urbanization of the watershed. As was discussed in the Lake Water Quality section, chloride levels have been consistently increasing in the waters of the lake over the past 20 years. This increasing trend can be observed in tributary samples from urban and rural areas (Figure 2.11 - Pefferlaw Brook) throughout the watershed and is further supported by statistical tests (seasonal Kendall) at West Holland, Mt Albert Creek, Beaver River, Pefferlaw Brook, Lovers Creek and Schomberg River. Of the stations tested only Tannery Creek showed no strong trend, either increasing or decreasing. Instances of high concentrations of chloride in tributary samples are most common in winter and early spring, which indicates the probable source of the chloride, is road salt use. While current chloride levels in the lake, and the majority of those sampled in tributaries, are unlikely to pose a biological threat, they demonstrate that substantial runoff from urban surfaces is entering the lake. With growth continuing in many parts of the watershed it is likely that chloride levels will continue to increase. Figure 2.12 displays the PWQMN data for all 12 stations from 2002 to 2006. The two stations with the highest proportion of urban area upstream are the Tannery and Holland Landing stations. These are also the stations occasionally exceed the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) guideline of 210 mg/L for chloride in spring (Environment Canada, 2003). During winter LSEMS sampling, exceedances of United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) acute toxicity guideline of
33

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

860 mg/L (USEPA, 2006) have been recorded at Holland Landing. At these concentrations, chloride can not only impact the health of fish and aquatic insects, but can also have a detrimental impact on both aquatic and terrestrial plants, which provide and important food source and habitat for many species of aquatic life.
Figure 2.11 - Pefferlaw Brook Chloride Concentrations 1965 - 1995, 2002 - 2006 (mg/L)
2002 - 2006

1991 - 1995

1986 - 1990

1981 - 1985

1976 - 1980

1971 - 1975

1965 - 1970

0

10

20

30 mg/L

40

50 200

34

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

FIgure 2.12 - Chloride Concentrations at all PWQMN Station 2003 - 2006 (mg/L)

W Holland Uxbridge Tannery Schomberg Pefferlaw Mt. Albert Maskinonge Lovers Holland Landing Hawkstone Black Beaver

0

50

100

150 mg/L

200

250

300

CEPA = 210mg/L

Total Suspended Solids The presence of sediment suspended in a watercourse can be a significant concern in aquatic environments for several reasons. Chemical contaminants in the water can bind to the surface of sediment particles. When the particles are filtered by aquatic organisms such as mussels the contaminants enter the food chain. Suspended sediments will also reduce the amount of sunlight that can penetrate the water to make it possible for plants to grow, clogs the gills of fish and aquatic insects, and covers substrate that fish use for spawning and many aquatic insects use for habitat. Total suspended solids are not generally a problem in Lake Simcoe tributaries as Figure 2.13 shows with current PWQMN data. This is further supported by statistical tests run on stations with long term data which found either no significant trend or a decreasing trend in total suspended solids concentrations. However, as suspended sediment can act as a transport mechanism for contaminants, high concentrations of suspended solids will typically be coupled with high concentrations of other contaminants. The Tannery and Holland Landing stations on the East Holland River have some of the highest concentrations of suspended solids. These stations are also experiencing exceedances of other contaminants such as total aluminum as a result of suspended solids concentrations. Total aluminum concentrations are discussed in the following section.

35

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Figure 2.13 - TSS Concentrations at all PWQMN Stations 2003 - 2006 (mg/L)

W Holland Uxbridge Tannery Schomberg Pefferlaw Mt. Albert Maskinonge Lovers Holland Landing Hawkstone Black Beaver

0

20

40

60

80

100 mg/L

120

140

160 1800 1900

CWQG = 30mg/L

Sources of suspended solids include stormwater runoff and wind erosion from urban and agricultural areas and construction sites, roads, and the erosion of stream banks. In general, natural areas input very little sediment into waterbodies – natural vegetation binds soil and holds it in place, and also slows the flow of stormwater, which causes the sediment to settle out of the runoff before it reaches a watercourse. Where natural areas are replaced with other land uses, the input of suspended sediment can be reduced through the implementation of storm water controls and the planting of vegetated buffers along watercourses. In an agricultural setting, conservation tillage practices, wind breaks, and vegetated buffers can help to keep the soil on the field and prevent any eroding soil from reaching watercourses. East Holland River The station at Holland Landing was the most heavily impacted of all the stations sampled under the PWQMN program. Numerous exceedances of 12 of the 18 parameters that have firm guidelines were recorded at this station. This includes 100% of phosphorus measurements, 97% of aluminum, 88% of iron measurements and 59% of total suspended solids samples. Uniquely high readings of chloride, in excess of the US EPA’s guidelines for acute toxicity, were also recorded. This is thought to be due to the use of road salts. The station sits downstream of Aurora and Newmarket, one of the most urbanized areas of the watershed. It highlights the impact that human activities have on the ecosystem and the need for remediation efforts to be focused on the East Holland Subwatershed.

36

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

2.1.4 Emerging Issues Facing the Lake and Tributaries
Emerging Contaminants Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) & Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Lake Simcoe assimilates treated sewage treatment effluent from 14 Water Pollution Control Plants (WPCPs) but also is the drinking water supply for 6 communities in the Lake Simcoe basin which may represent a potential threat pending further research. Presently WPCPs do not treat their respective effluent specifically for the removal of PPCPs and EDCs. The effluent may therefore still contains PPCPs and EDCs among other potentially harmful chemicals. A cost effective technology to effectively remove these is presently not available. The release of treated sewage effluent that contains PPCPs has been identified by scientists as a potential risk to human health. As a newly emerging area of research, there have not yet been standards proposed for pharmaceutical concentrations in sewage effluent or surface water. This creates difficulty in developing management control mechanisms or treatment alternatives for pharmaceuticals in sewage effluent. There has also been ongoing debate on the sampling methodologies, laboratory analysis and reporting thresholds for these parameters, further complicating an effective response to this issue at this time. The agencies, municipalities and researchers must remain diligent and closely monitor progress in this area and develop a strategy to respond, monitor and take action when necessary. Pesticides in the Holland Marsh In 2004 the LSRCA initiated a Toxic Pollutant Screening Program to evaluate the conditions of rivers and streams with regard to the presence of selected organic and inorganic contaminants in surface water and sediments. (LSRCA, 2004) Organochlorine (OC) pesticides were included in the suite of parameters analyzed. Initally OC pesticides were detected in one sediment sample collected from the West Holland River in Bradford (north of the Holland Marsh). Concentrations of DDT and DDE were high enough to justify the collection of five sediment samples from upstream locations to examine the extent of the contamination. The same five locations were sampled again in 2005, with water samples being collected in addition to the sediment samples. The additional sampling revealed that the contaminants were mainly limited to the downstream (north-east) portion of the Marsh, likely the result of transport through the canal system. Sediment samples detected a number of OC pesticides including DDT and its metabolites, a-Chlorane, Dieldrin, a-Endosulfan and b-Endosulfan. All these pesticides are now banned in Canada except for Endosulfan. Based on their known persistence in the environment as well as the quantities of the metabolites detected these pesticides likely represent historical use rather than current application.
37

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

These parameters were not detected in surface water samples, with the exception of Endosulfan Sulfate and DDD (a metabolite of DDT) at the furthest downstream station in the Marsh. The PWQO for DDT, developed for the protection of aquatic life, includes its metabolite products (0.003 ug/L). This was exceeded by the sampled DDD concentration of 0.011 ug/L. The concentration of Endosulfan Sulfate similarly exceeds the PWQO for its parent product Endosulfan (0.003 ug/L PWQO, 0.013ug/L sampled concentration). These water samples show that the OC Pesticides sampled in the sediments are mobile or are being released from the sediment into surface waters and may be having a negative impact on aquatic life. OC pesticides, which have largely been banned in Canada due to their environmental persistence, were detected in the 2004 marsh sediment samples at orders of magnitude higher than the applicable aquatic guidelines. Due to the persistent nature of these pesticides, the concentrations sampled likely indicate historic use; however, their presence in surface sediments represents a potential source of contamination to aquatic receptors and may result in bioaccumulation. To better gauge the impact and bioconcentration potential of these pesticides in the water, experimental passive sampling devices called Semi-Permeable Membrane Devices (SPMDs) were deployed for a month in 2006. A second deployment was undertaken in 2007. The intent of the SPMDs is to absorb the pesticides over the course of the month long deployment similar to the way a biologic organism in the system would. The SPMDs are then analyzed for the various parameters. The results of this work will be available at a future date. Aluminum Total aluminum concentrations were monitored briefly in the mid 1990s and not again until 2002. In the 2002 to 2006 data set, total aluminum regularly exceeded the Canadian Water Quality Guideline for the protection of aquatic life (CWQG) at a number of stations (LSRCA:2005, 2006). Exceedances of the USEPA acute toxicity guideline for total aluminum were recorded at four stations in 2006 (from 2002 - 2005 only a single exceedance of the EPA guideline was recorded at the Holland Landing station). The four stations included Holland Landing where 4 samples (50%) exceeded the guideline, 3 exceedances at Tannery Creek, two exceedances at Schomberg, and one at Hwy 11. Aluminum concentrations were found to be highly correlated with total suspended solids (TSS) suggesting that the majority of sampled aluminum is associated with clay particles due to erosion or resuspension of bed load. When the samples are not filtered, the clay minerals are comprised of aluminum silicate and particles less than 2 micrograms in size can be found suspended in water and will enter the sampling container. Total aluminum measured is likely associated with the clay particles, not a toxic dissolved form of aluminum. However, the increasing number of exceedances of the EPA acute guideline warrants further investigation. Filtered samples have been undertaken and analyzed, and the majority of the aluminum has indeed been found to be mainly sediment bound, not the dissolved form that can be toxic to the aquatic community. Further monitoring of this type will be undertaken in the future to ensure

38

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

that the dissolved form of aluminum is not the type being detected in the total aluminum samples. Chromium Total chromium concentration as measured by the PWQMN is not directly comparable to the PWQO for hexavalent and trivalent Chromium, the two forms most common in natural waters. However, total chromium concentrations recorded at Holland Landing are chronically above expected levels for natural waters (MOE, 1981) as well as having multiple readings in excess of the objectives for both the trivalent and hexavalent forms. The range of chromium at this station is 0.95ug/L to 20ug/L with a median of 2.32ug/L. In sediment samples collected as part of the Toxic Pollutant Screening Program recorded chromium concentrations exceeded applicable sediment guidelines in the Tannery Creek (a tributary of the East Holland River) and the main branch of the East Holland River. Sources of chromium include cement, ferrochromium, chromium steel and metal plating industries, burning of fossil fuels and leather tanneries. As tanneries have historically operated near each of the locations recording high chromium levels it is possible that the measured chromium represents historic contamination. In order to quantify the severity of chromium contamination and associated toxicity, trivalent, hexavalent and total chromium concentrations were analyzed in 2007, and it was found that the majority of the total chromium is comprised of trivalent chromium, which is not thought to have the detrimental impacts that hexavalent chromium has. Monitoring of this type will continue in order to track the type of chromium, and ensure that there are not high levels of hexavalent chromium at these stations. Atmospheric Gases or Particles Ground Level Ozone As with the rest of Ontario, the parameter responsible for most of the moderate to poor air quality readings in the Lake Simcoe watershed is ground level ozone. Ozone, which is the prime ingredient in smog, is produced when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in sunlight. Automobiles and other methods of transportation are a major source of both parameters. Ozone irritates the respiratory tract and eyes. Exposure to ozone in sensitive people can result in chest tightness, coughing and wheezing. Ground level ozone is also linked to increased hospital admissions and premature deaths. Ozone also causes agricultural crop loss each year in Ontario, with visible leaf damage in many crops, garden plants and trees, especially during the summer months (Ministry of the Environment, 2006). Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) A second parameter of concern to air quality in the Lake Simcoe watershed is particulate matter. Particulate matter is emitted into the air through burning fossil fuels
39

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

in cars and trucks, industrial processes such as incineration, construction and metal processing, as well as from natural sources such as wind erosion and forest fires. Particles (aerosols) may also be or formed indirectly in the atmosphere through a series of complex chemical reactions. Fine Particulate Matter is a particle capable of penetrating deep into the respiratory system. Exposure is associated with hospital admissions and several serious health effects, including premature death. Effects have been noted during short term (a single day) and long term exposures (a year or more). Fine particulate matter may also be responsible for environmental impacts such as corrosion, soiling, damage to vegetation, and reduced visibility (Ministry of the Environment, 2006). Smog Smog is a mixture of air pollutants, primarily ground level ozone, fine particulate matter, and NOx. It is typified by that brown haze often seen over our communities on a warm sunny day. Ground level ozone is formed when VOCs and nitrogen oxides react in sunlight. PM2.5 is a mixture of microscopic particles that are 2.5 micrometres or less in size. These may be particles of soot, ash, dirt, dust and metals in the air. The traditional summer smog season is generally defined as the period between May 1 and September 30. Smog is generally associated with distinct weather patterns causing smog to move up from highly industrialized areas in the United States. On average 50% of our smog comes from south of the border each year (Ministry of the Environment, 2000). Such weather conditions are generally associated with slow moving high pressure systems south of the lower Great Lakes (Yap et al, 2005). Overall, smog is harmful to both the respiratory (lungs) and cardiovascular (heart) systems. It aggravates heart problems, bronchitis, asthma, and other lung problems. Smog reduces lung function even in healthy people. Even at low levels, ground level ozone and fine particulate matter are harmful. There are no "safe" levels of smog (Ministry of the Environment, 2007). Recent reports conclude that in 2005 more than 29 million minor illnesses, 59,000 emergency room visits, 16,000 hospital admissions and more than 5,800 premature deaths in Ontario were caused by smog. It is estimated that in Ontario the environmental, health care and societal costs of smog are $10.8 billion annually. If the current trend continues, these figures would rise to more than 38 million minor illnesses, 87,000 emergency room visits, 24,000 hospital admissions and 10,000 premature deaths by 2015 (Ministry of the Environment, 2007). Other Airborne Contaminants Nitrogen dioxide plays a major role in atmospheric reactions that produce ground-level ozone and smog. It reacts in the atmosphere to form fine particulate matter and forms nitric acid which contributes to acid rain. Nitrogen dioxide is known to irritate the lungs and lower the resistance to respiratory infection. All combustion in air produces nitrogen dioxide with the transportation sector, utilities and industrial processes being major sources.

40

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Sulphur dioxide also reacts to form fine particulate matter and components of acid rain. The major source of sulphur dioxide in Ontario is from smelters and utilities. Health effects caused by exposure to high levels of sulphur dioxide include breathing problems, respiratory illness and the worsening of respiratory and cardiovascular disease. Air Quality Monitoring The Province monitors ambient air quality through its 40 air quality index (AQI) monitoring sites across the province, two of which are in the Lake Simcoe watershed; one in the Town of Newmarket, and one in the City of Barrie. Parameters measured at these two sites are ground level ozone (O3), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
Table 2.1: (source: Table 1-1 “Air Quality Ontario 2005 Report.” Ministry of the Environment, 2006)

The AQI network provides the public with air quality information, in near real time, from across the province. The AQI is based on pollutants that have adverse effects on human health and the environment. The pollutants are ozone, fine particulate matter, PM2.5, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and total reduced sulphur compounds. At the end of each hour, the concentration of each pollutant measured at each site is converted into a number ranging from zero upwards using a common scale or index. The calculated number for each pollutant is referred to as a sub-index. At a given site, the highest sub-index for any given hour becomes the AQI reading for that location. The index is a relative scale, in that, the lower the index, the better the air quality. Figures 2.14 and 2.15 below, show maximum daily AQI values at the two monitoring stations located within the Lake Simcoe watershed. Ozone is by far the predominant AQI reading with fine particulate matter making up the rest. For 2006, eight poor days (6 due to ozone; 2 due to fine particulate matter) were recorded for Newmarket while no days in the poor category were found for Barrie. Elevated levels are seen throughout
41

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

spring and summer and are associated with the same weather patterns that bring moist hot air up from the south.

Figure 2.14: Daily Maximum AQI Values for Newmarket (data source: MOE, 2007)

42

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Figure 2.15: Daily Maximum AQI Values for Barrie (data source: MOE, 2007)

A look at smog advisories from 1995 – 2005 (Figure 2.16) does not provide as much detail as the AQI. It does however show the variability in air quality year to year and the growing extent of some smog advisories. Fine particulate matter was not added to the network until August 2002 and was expected to increase smog advisory days by as much as 10%. This may be responsible for a large part of the increase seen in the graph below. One element to note is that the worst year in this record is 2005 with by far the most Advisory Days. While there is not enough supporting information to indicate a temporal trend, it does reiterate that parameters such as ozone and fine particulate matter (main ingredients in smog) need to be continually monitored and efforts to reduce emissions need to continue and expand.

43

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Smog Advisories (1995 - 2005)
60

50

number of advisories number of days

40

30

20

10

0 1994

1996

1998

2000

2002

2004

2006

Figure 2.16: Number and duration of smog advisories (1995-2005)

Climate Change Background Climate change refers to changes in the climate of the earth or of regional climates over time. It describes changes in the average state of the atmosphere or the average weather over various long- and short-term time scales. Changes in climate may arise from natural processes, such as the internal processes of the earth; external processes (such as variation in levels of sunlight); or from anthropogenic processes (Solomon et al, 2007). In recent years, discussion of climate change has mainly referred to the changes in modern climate, including global warming. It is now generally accepted that human activities have played a significant role in these recent changes. For thousands of years, there has been a natural balance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are naturally produced in some processes, and consumed in others. However, since the industrial era, this balance has been disrupted. Human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and intensive land uses have added huge quantities of greenhouse gases which natural processes are unable to consume, thus upsetting the natural balance (Houghton et al, 2001). Increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are illustrated in Figure 2.17. In recent years we have seen some of the impacts of climate change, both locally and globally. Average annual temperatures in southern Ontario have increased by 0.5°
44

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Celsius over the past century and are expected to rise by an additional 3.5° C to 4°C (see Figure 2.18) in this region over the next century, with winter temperatures expected to rise as much as 4° C to 5° C (Christensen et al, 2007); the frequency of extreme weather events has been steadily increasing (Field et al, 2007); many of the earth’s glaciers have been melting at unexpectedly high rates (Anisimov et al, 2007); and many ecosystems are exhibiting changes. These changes are expected to continue and become more pronounced into the future as the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increases. While the precise impacts of climate change in the Lake Simcoe watershed are difficult to accurately predict because of the many factors that influence global and regional climates, scientists have determined some of the likely effects. Climate change will have impacts on our activities and on the environment – water quantity and quality; agriculture; the integrity of the lake’s ecosystems; tourism; and community infrastructure and human health may all be impacted. Watershed agencies must be prepared to manage the watershed in light of the changes that are expected into the future.

Figure 2.17: Atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature change (source: David Peltier, February 2007)

45

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Figure 2.18: Predictions of future warming for three modelled emissions scenarios (Source: David Peltier, Feb 2007)

Greenhouse Gases and Global Warming Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have been increasing as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed preindustrial values. The global increases in carbon dioxide concentration are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land use change, while those of methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture (IPCC, 2007).

46

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Figure 2.19: (source: “Summary for Policy Makers” IPCC Working Group 1, 2007) Measurements are shown from different studies and are represented by a change in color. Radiative forcing is used to represent the effect each element has on the climate’s energy balance.

The effects of these elevated levels in carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides are widespread with evidence of: • • • • warming of lakes and rivers in many regions, with effects on thermal structure and water quality earlier timing of spring events and the poleward shift in ranges in plant and animal species range changes and earlier migrations of fish in rivers trend in many regions towards earlier ‘greening’ of vegetation in the spring linked to longer thermal growing seasons due to recent warming

In the future, heavy precipitation events will increase flood risk. Cities that currently experience heat waves are expected to be further challenged by an increased number, intensity and duration of these events (IPCC, 2007).

47

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Water Quantity and Quality: Predicted Impacts from Climate Change Water levels are expected to decline in inland lakes throughout Ontario (Warren et al, 2004). A reduction in summer water levels combined with land use changes is likely to reduce the recharge of groundwater. This has implications for human uses and will have numerous environmental impacts (IPCC, 2007). Humans rely on both surface and groundwater as a source of drinking water and for irrigation and industrial activities. Environmental impacts include the drying up of small streams, degradation of aquatic habitat, deterioration of water quality, and a reduction in wetland area. Fish that inhabit the small streams or rely on them for part of their life cycle, or species that require specific habitat features that have the potential to become degraded may have to migrate or will become extirpated. A reduction in wetland area will result in impacts for the diversity of plants and wildlife, and also a decline in water quality, as the filtering capacity of the wetlands is compromised (Warren et al, 2004). The competition for water resources for all of these uses that already occurs during dry summers will be exacerbated as water levels decrease and there is less ground and surface water to meet the demands. The challenge for water managers will be to determine how to balance these conflicting uses to ensure that the most pressing needs are met and that there is water remaining to carry out ecological functions. As mentioned briefly above, water quality will also be impacted by climate change (IPCC, 2007). In addition to the reduced filtering capacity of wetlands; other factors will reduce the water quality in Lake Simcoe’s watercourses. Low water levels will result in reduced dilution of pollutants. In addition, the anticipated increase in frequency and intensity of rainfall (Meehl et al, 2007) will produce higher levels of pollution and sedimentation due to runoff. These more intense rainfall patterns will likely also result in more floods – runoff from the large volumes of flood water will transport contaminants into water bodies, and high volumes will overwhelm storm and wastewater control systems. An increase in the frequency of mid-winter melts may result in more flooding, potentially resulting in more erosion and sediment contribution to the tributaries and subsequently the lake. Aquatic Habitat: Predicted Impacts from Climate Change The low water levels expected as a result of climate change will likely impact the watershed’s aquatic ecosystems. Low water levels will result in the disappearance of small streams and a reduction in the area and quality of wetlands. Wetlands provide breeding and nursery habitat for many fish species, and a reduction in wetland area will impact populations of these fish. If streams dry up, the fish and other aquatic animals that live there will either have to migrate to locations which may have less than ideal habitat, or they may become extirpated. If flow in streams is reduced, water quality is also likely to deteriorate, as the capacity of a watercourse to dilute pollutants is reduced with lower inputs of water, and high flows during intense rain events will carry pollutants to water bodies (Warren et al, 2004). Increased air temperatures will also result in rising water temperatures. This will impact sensitive species of fish and aquatic invertebrates, as the capacity of the water to carry
48

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

dissolved oxygen decreases as the temperature increases. The result will be changes in fish and aquatic insect communities and the northward migration of species (provided barriers to migration do not exist), as well as the potential for local extinctions of the more sensitive species. The ability of a species to migrate will depend on the presence of physical or thermal barriers, and on the presence of appropriate habitat conditions. The potential negative impact to coldwater fish communities within the tributaries is prevalent if flows are reduced and water temperatures are increased and potentially could lead to extirpation. The lake ecosystem could be impacted in several ways by sustained climate change; both in immediate future and long-term. Shifts in seasonal ice cover would affect the lake’s productivity – ice cover controls the availability of light and affects dissolved oxygen concentrations. Since the concentration of dissolved oxygen declines during the ice cover period, a decrease in ice cover could reduce winter mortality due to low oxygen conditions Evidence of impacts from a reduced ice cover period of time is beginning to emerge through recent work from Dr David Evans whose research is indicating the trend of reduced ice cover that the lake has been experiencing is illustrating potential impacts on juvenile lake trout survivability (Evans, 2007). However, the stratification period will be affected, as the characteristics are heavily influenced by climate. A report by the International Joint Commission (IJC) indicates that climate change could result in the earlier onset of stratification, an extended summer stratification period, and changes in the volume of the thermal layers, or it may reduce the frequency and regularity of lake turnovers (IJC, 2003). Some species are already under pressure due to the small size of the hypolimnion during the lake’s stratified period, so any decrease in size or dissolved oxygen concentrations could be devastating to their populations (Evans, 2007). These changes could alter the dominant species found in the lake and may cause extirpation of some fish species. Agriculture: Predicted Impacts from Climate Change Climate change is likely to have both positive and negative impacts on agriculture in southern Ontario. Although there is a great deal of uncertainty, a number of benefits are anticipated, including an extended growing season, an extension of the range of more southern crop species that are currently grown in the northern United States into this region, and a potential decrease in cold stress during the winter months. However, negative impacts are also anticipated. Soil moisture deficiencies could reduce crop yield; the benefits expected from reduced cold stress could be offset by the potential for damaging winter thaws as a result of a reduction in the amount of protective snow cover; extreme heat could have impacts on crop yield, particularly if it occurs during crucial points of the life cycle of the plant; and the incidence of pests and diseases is expected to increase. Warren et al., (2004), state climate change may also have positive and negative impacts on livestock operations in Canada, although little research has been conducted to determine how warmer temperatures will affect this economically important sector. However, the limited research to date suggests that positive impacts could include lower
49

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

feed requirements, increased survival of the young, and reduced energy costs (Rötter and van de Geijn, 1999). Climate change, through heat stress, could affect milk production, dairy cow reproduction, and animal weight grain (Rosenzweig and Hillel, 1998). Recreation: Predicted Impacts from Climate Change It will be important to manage those impacts of climate change that we are able to, as Lake Simcoe’s recreation industry, which is estimated to generate revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars for the economies of watershed municipalities, could be severely impacted by the changes that could arise from climate change. To manage these impacts, watershed managers will need to take science based local actions as well as recognize opportunities to support work to reduce climate change where these opportunities may exist. Ice conditions in southern Ontario are expected to deteriorate in the coming years, a trend that has already recently been observed to an extent. The ice season will become shorter, and it is likely that there will be years without ice cover (Lemke et al, 2007). These changing conditions will deal a serious blow to the businesses and communities that rely on ice fishing and other ice-related activities. Possible changes in the fish community could impact the lake’s reputation as a fishing destination. Climate change impacts may also include a decrease in the amount of expected snow cover (Trenberth et al, 2007), which will affect activities such as snowmobiling, skiing, and snowshoeing, which could also result in lost revenues. With warmer summer temperatures, it is expected that the interest in swimming and other water-related activities will increase. However, low water levels, warmer air temperatures and warmer water combined with increased concentrations of nutrients and pollutants could deter people from undertaking in-water recreation. Boating activities may also be impacted by low water and weeds, and marina operators may need to dredge their harbours and channels to be able to continue to operate because of low water levels. 2.1.5 Tools and Actions to Improve Water Quality

Assimilative Capacity Study (ACS) Background Throughout the implementation of the LSEMS programs it was apparent that in some years, the annual reductions in phosphorus loading being achieved through the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) were to varying degrees being offset by new sources generated by population growth and land use changes within the basin. The primary increases in phosphorus loading were associated with non-point urban runoff, atmospheric deposition and inputs from sewage treatment plants (Scott et al., 2005). With the advent of new management technologies for both stormwater runoff

50

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

and sewage treatment future impacts of growth can be minimized but not entirely eliminated. Recognizing that a significant amount of work remains to reduce existing phosphorus loadings it was critical that a holistic strategy for phosphorus management be developed. The strategy would need to predict future impacts that land use changes might have on the annual total phosphorus load to the lake to ensure that the LSEMS phosphorus target could not only be achieved, but maintained in light of future growth. To this end in 2005, the Ministry of the Environment approached and funded the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority to develop an Assimilative Capacity study for Lake Simcoe which would provide the information necessary to complete a phosphorus management strategy. Assimilative Capacity and Land Use Changes Assimilative capacity is defined as: “the relationship between water quality/quantity and land use and the capability of the watercourse or lake to resist the effects of landscape disturbance without impairment of water quality.” The assimilative capacity of a watercourse or lake therefore represents the environmentally sustainable threshold of the resource. The purpose behind the Assimilative Capacity Study (ACS) was to help the LSEMS partners to determine how much development can be accommodated in the Lake Simcoe watershed and the management practices necessary to minimize future phosphorus loading from the watershed or to reduce current loadings, to meet the LSEMS remedial target for Lake Simcoe. The estimation of the assimilative capacity of the Lake Simcoe watershed required the completion of several steps. These included: • • • • • • Estimating the current contribution of phosphorus entering Lake Simcoe from all existing point and non-point sources. Evaluating the potential reduction in phosphorus loading resulting from the implementation of BMPs throughout the watershed on the current load. Estimating the impact of the future Official Plan designated population and urban area growth on phosphorus loading within the watershed with and without the implementations of BMPs. Establishing phosphorus targets in the form of Total Maximum Monthly Loads (TMMLs) for individual subwatersheds within the basin which are in turn linked to the LSEMS current lake phosphorus target load of 75 T/y. Assessing whether the TMMLs can be achieved and maintained under the future growth scenario. Recommending options for future growth based on the results.

51

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

The Tools To complete these tasks two water quality models were developed with private sector consultants, a watershed water quality model known as the Canadian ArcView Nutrient and Water Evaluation Tool (CANWET) and a hydrodynamic lake water quality model developed by the Danish Hydraulic Institute and referred to as MIKE3\ECO Labs model. The CANWET™ model is used to predict changes in water quality of rivers and streams associated with changes in land use. This tool was used to evaluate the change in water quality based on future population and urban growth scenarios and the output used as input into the MIKE3\ECO Lab model. This model is used to predict the lake response to the change in phosphorus loading and can reflect the consequence of future growth in relation to the health of Lake Simcoe.

For more detailed information on the Assimilative Capacity Study….
Specific information regarding the Lake Simcoe Assimilative Capacity Study and to download or view reports you can visit a web site by viewing…. http://www.assimilativecapacity.info/ The site contains a description of the study, work plans, final reports, partners in the process, results of the media centre and opportunities for further consultation.

52

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Figure 2.20: Phosphorus loading by source for each of the lake’s subwatersheds as determined through CANWET modelling

Phosphorus Targets: Developing Total Maximum Monthly Loads (TMMLs) TMMLs were developed for the LSRCA by the Louis Berger Group Inc. (Assimilative Capacity Studies June 2006 Pollutant Target Loads: Lake Simcoe and Nottawasaga River Basins, Washington, D.C.; http://www.assimilativecapacity.info/fin_rprt.htm).

53

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

The practice of developing total maximum loads was first initiated by the USEPA to regulate and protect degraded water resources. Once a water quality indicator is identified, in this case total phosphorus, a target value for that indicator is determined that will allow for the attainment of water quality objectives. This target condition is established to provide measurable environmental management goals and a clear linkage to attaining water quality objectives (i.e. PWQOs). Target values for some indicators can be established simply by adopting numerical criteria in water quality standards or objective (such as the PWQOs). However, in those cases where no numerical standard is available, or where additional water quality objectives must be considered, additional mechanisms can be employed in target development. The development of TMMLs in the Lake Simcoe watershed represents the first time this method has been proposed for use in protecting water resources in Canada. The initial portion of this process, the characterization of nutrient and sediment loads within the subwatersheds for the growth scenarios, was completed by Greenland International through the CANWET model. The Louis Berger Group used this information to determine the maximum load that could be allocated to each of the subwatersheds to ensure that concentrations remained below the framework set in accordance with the PWQO set by the Ministry of the Environment; concentrations above this indicate impairment of the watercourse. The TMMLs include the pollutant load attributed to land uses from the CANWET scenarios and a margin of safety (MOS = 10% of the total pollutant load). The consultants also looked at the BMPs that would need to be implemented in order to reach or maintain the targets. While there are subwatersheds that will not be able to reach a target at which the concentration in the watercourse that meets the PWQO, results indicate that this will be possible in the majority of subwatersheds with a combination of strict controls on phosphorus loads from new development and the implementation of BMPs in both the urban and rural areas. A Public Consultation component was also included in the TMML development process. Stakeholders representing a wide range of interests were invited to workshops (one was held in each of the watersheds). The consultants outlined the process of the development of the TMMLs, and stakeholders were asked to outline their concerns. At the end of each of the two sessions, stakeholders were generally supportive with moving forward with this process and developing TMMLs to be used as management tools. Two water quality objectives were necessary in the development of a Lake Simcoe TMML phosphorus target setting strategy. The first objective considered was the existing LSEMS lake target of 75 (T/y). The second was the PWQO for total phosphorus concentration guideline for the streams and rivers flowing into the lake (0.03 mg/L). The PWQO for phosphorus was established by the MOE to ensure that water quality conditions are maintained: “at a level which is protective of all forms of aquatic life and all aspects of the aquatic life cycles during indefinite exposure to the water”, and, in a manner that meets public health and aesthetic concerns to ensure recreational uses are

54

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

preserved (MOE, 1994). It is important to understand that PWQO are not standards that must be met but rather objectives that are recommended to ensure healthy aquatic ecosystems. The following table (Table 2.2) is adapted from the June 2006, Assimilative Capacity Studies Pollutant Target Loads: Lake Simcoe and Nottawasaga River Basins Report. It outlines the four target setting options with reference to the target methodology proposed for each including a brief description of each category, the method for calculation of a pollutant target for each, the rationale for the approach, and the potential exceptions to the strategy. .
Table 2.2 Target Setting Strategy Developed for the Lake Simcoe Watershed Target Setting Option A Impaired? No PWQO Met? Yes Target Methodology Watersheds that are considered generally unimpaired with respect to biologic community quality, water aesthetics, and recreational uses that have low current phosphorus loads are considered to be in the preferred condition. Therefore, the phosphorus target for these subwatersheds was set equal to the phosphorus load modeled under the committed growth scenario (Greenland, 2006). Watersheds that are considered impaired with respect to biologic community quality, water aesthetics, and/or recreational uses that have high modeled phosphorus loads require management action to improved water quality conditions. For these subwatersheds, the phosphorus load target was set equal to a ‘reduced’ version of the phosphorus load modeled under the committed growth scenario to ensure improvement in water quality conditions (Greenland, 2006). Watersheds that are considered impaired with respect to biologic community quality, water aesthetics, and/or recreational uses, but have low modeled phosphorus loads are likely impaired for reasons other than phosphorus. For these subwatersheds, phosphorus may not be the problem, and therefore, applying a reduction to current phosphorus load estimates would not be useful. For these subwatersheds, the phosphorus target is set equal to the phosphorus load modeled under the committed growth scenario, and future efforts should focus at identifying other potential stressors of the water’s designated uses.

B

Yes

No

C

No

No

D

Yes

Yes

55

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Summary of the Assimilative Capacity Study Results Current Conditions Based on the modeling results presented from the CANWET model the current average annual phosphorus load to the lake is 41.5 T/y from the lake’s tributaries. This total is below the 50 T/y ‘primary’ target load from the inflowing tributaries developed to preserve a late summer deep water dissolved oxygen concentration of 5 mg/L or greater at the end of summer in the deep water (hypolimnion).. However, it is above the 23.7 T/y ‘secondary’ target that is based on the PWQO concentration of 0.03 mg/L. Review of the information presented shows that 16 of the 23 of the subwatersheds in the Lake Simcoe watershed exceed a PWQO-based load target calculated at the individual subwatershed level. Examination of the available ecological information, water quality monitoring data, and input from LSCRA staff suggests that aquatic communities, habitats, and recreational uses for at least 8 of these subwatersheds are impaired as defined by the ACS. Seven of the eight watersheds considered impaired have modeled phosphorus loads that exceeded the PWQO based target. Committed Growth without Implementation of BMPs Committed growth is the scenario involving population and urban expansion based on the municipal Official Plan designations into the future. It does not include implementation of enhanced BMPs to offset the impact of growth and is therefore the worst case scenario option. Not surprisingly, phosphorus loads delivered to the lake increase under this scenario by 24% (from 41.5 to 51.6 T/y). The majority of this increase is based on assumed increased stormwater runoff and sewage treatment plant effluent from approved development proposed for watersheds that are already considered impaired. Most notably these include; East Holland, West Holland, and Barrie subwatersheds. Additionally, two subwatersheds, the Oro North and Hawkestone subwatershed, show a near doubling of the phosphorus load under the approved growth scenario. Committed Growth with Full Implementation of BMPs The last scenario modeled involves the population and urban expansion along with a full implementation of BMPs to offset the impacts associated with development. The results of this scenario indicate that an estimated total reduction of up to 28% (from 41.5 to 37.2 T/y) could be achieved. This result suggests that the continued growth within the watershed could occur without impacting negatively on water quality. However, modeling results also suggest that even with BMP implementation, the Barrie, East Holland, Hawkestone, and North Oro subwatersheds would observe increases in their estimated total phosphorus loads. Two of these subwatersheds, the Barrie and East Holland subwatershed, showed 19% and 32% phosphorus increases (respectively) and are already considered impaired subwatersheds. Stream conditions in these

56

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

subwatersheds may degrade further if all committed growth actions are implemented even with BMP implementation efforts. For this reason, more detailed site specific analyses of BMP opportunities should be assessed for these subwatersheds to help inform the growth planning process. It must be noted that municipalities are currently updating their Official Plans to conform with the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe by June, 2009. In certain areas the Growth Plan has lower forecasts for population and employment than current Official Plans and a longer time frame. This will help minimize the impact growth has on the watershed. Another extremely important factor is the cost associated with the full implementation of BMPs associated with meeting the respective phosphorus loading targets and continuing with approved growth (approved Official Plan growth). The current estimated cost is $163 million dollars. Failure to implement the BMPs before or concurrently with development would result in further degradation to the lake and the LSEMS goal and objectives would not be achievable. Implications for the Future The results of the Assimilative Capacity Study conclude that Lake Simcoe and its subwatersheds will only achieve their TMML targets with current (2004) municipally committed growth provided the BMPs are fully implemented across all sectors. The ACS should assist decision-makers on how to best manage such matters as well as future decisions involving growth (e.g. land use and infrastructure), land use activities as well as the use of BMPs within specific areas to protect and restore the watershed in an environmentally sustainable manner. Stormwater Management Stormwater runoff represents a major source of pollution to Lake Simcoe and its tributaries. Currently, 16,508.7 hectares (6.3%) of the watershed is comprised of urban land use. Old stormwater facilities, residing in urban areas, are mainly uncontrolled, and negatively impact the lake. New stormwater facilities have less impact on the Lake as they are built to much higher standards. Uncontrolled, stormwater can negatively effect water quality, stream form and function, the biologic capacity of a stream, and increase flooding potential. Interception of stormwater runoff through the use of Stormwater Management Facilities (SMF) at the outlet of urban catchments can reduce the severity of these impacts. In order to properly site SMFs it is necessary to delineate urban drainage catchments and identify outlets to watercourses or waterbodies. To date delineation of urban catchments has been piecemeal across the Lake Simcoe watershed, captured either through Watershed Planning documents, municipal infrastructure improvements or new development applications. This has excluded many areas, particularly older urban cores, and the resulting data set, constructed over the last 10 years, may not represent current conditions in some locations. The purpose of

57

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

this study is to create a complete, consistent and contemporary data set of all urban catchments, outlets, existing SMFs and locations of potential SMFs, and to calculate the phosphorus load associated with urban stormwater runoff in the Lake Simcoe watershed. To address the need for better information the LSRCA in 2007 undertook a detailed assessment and review of stormwater management in all serviced areas in the Lake Simcoe Basin. The final report entitled “Lake Simcoe Basin Stormwater Management and Retrofit Opportunities Report” (2008) provides 4 key deliverables: •
• •

Delineation of stormwater catchments for all urban areas of the Lake Simcoe watershed. Identification of existing Stormwater Management Facilities and level of treatment. Calculation of the total phosphorus load coming from urban areas and reduction achieved through existing controls. Identification of potential retrofit opportunities and associated phosphorus

Interim Regulation on WPCP Effluent Limits and Stormwater The Ministry of Environment has proposed an interim regulation would put interim limits on phosphorus loadings from existing municipal and industrial sewage treatment facilities, stop new ones that would discharge phosphorus and require new stormwater facilities to meet the highest design standards to increase phosphorus removal. The regulation would impose an annual phosphorous loading limit on each of the 14 existing municipal sewage treatment facilities and the one industrial sewage treatment plant located in the Lake Simcoe basin. This limit would be in effect until March 31, 2009. Collectively, the 15 existing sewage treatments plants within the Lake Simcoe Basin are legally permitted to discharge up to 12.5 tonnes of phosphorus each year. The interim limits would reduce this total permitted loading to the basin to 7.5 tonnes a year. In 2006, the plants discharged a total of 5.9 tonnes of phosphorus. The Ministry of the Environment will work with the individual municipalities to set limits for each of their facilities. The proposed interim regulation will prevent a new sewage treatment facility within the Lake Simcoe basin if the discharge will result in the addition of phosphorous loadings. New facilities designed to manage stormwater from a new development within the Lake Simcoe basin would have to be built to the highest protection level specified in the ministry’s Stormwater Management Planning and Design Manual. This provision would not apply to the construction of new stormwater facilities that service existing development or a new small infill development.

58

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Environmental Stewardship Implementation of in-the-ground projects is the primary goal of the LSRCA Watershed Stewardship Program, and each year staff work with a range of partners to complete a variety of projects across the watershed. These include the construction of manure storage facilities on farms, removal of in-stream fish barriers, tree and shrub planting, and the retrofitting of municipal stormwater management ponds, to name a few. All of the projects are designed to improve water quality in the watershed by reducing phosphorus inputs to streams and rivers, while maintaining and enhancing biodiversity, increasing wildlife habitat, and improving watershed health. Through all of the stewardship services offered, recommendations are made that employ scientifically tried and proven methods. These include the use of native plant materials, techniques that recognise and work with existing landscape features, and innovative solutions that may be understood and maintained by the landowner. For stewardship projects to be successful it is critical that the landowner be involved in the project from the beginning, understand why the work is being completed, how it is beneficial, and what their role is in the ongoing maintenance and monitoring. Private Land Stewardship Across southern Ontario, the majority of the land holdings are in private ownership. This is also the case in the Lake Simcoe watershed. Therefore, it is important to engage landowners if any real progress is to be accomplished in addressing the water quality issues identified in the Lake Simcoe watershed. Often, due to historical practices or a lack of awareness, landowners may be undertaking activities on their property that are detrimental to the environment. These may include the improper storage of manure on a cattle farm, the failure of a septic system on a residential property, or soil erosion caused by wind or rain. Through Stewardship programs, staff provide technical assistance and advice to landowners, and help them to implement solutions that are cost-effective and environmentally beneficial. Stewardship services have been available for watershed residents for a number of decades, and over that period hundreds of projects have been implemented. The focus of these efforts has largely been on rural farm properties, where landowners are addressing concerns that include controlling runoff, soil erosion, or livestock access to watercourses. With recent trends in population growth, however, there has been an increase in the amount of land converted from agricultural or seasonal residential uses, to permanent residential dwellings. The result has been the need for stewardship activities to make an adjustment in the programs offered and information available, to assist these new landowners in becoming good stewards of their land and watershed citizens.

59

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Urban Stewardship Stewardship programs have historically been targeted towards rural properties, where projects such as manure storage facilities or septic system upgrades have been undertaken to address sources of phosphorus. Recently, it has been recognized that storm runoff from urban centres across the watershed represents a significant source of phosphorus loading for Lake Simcoe. To that end, the Lake Simcoe Water Quality and Improvement Program (LSWQIP) has been adapted to also provide financial incentives for municipalities to retrofit existing storm water management ponds, and implement new-in-science technologies that assist in treating urban runoff before it enters into watercourses. Storm water pond retrofits have taken the form of redesigning existing facilities to convert them from quantity ponds to quantity and quality ponds, where water passes more slowly through a series of cells, depositing sediments where they can be removed through dredging at a later date, or uptake by plants. In some situations, new storm water management ponds have been added to storm sewer systems where they have not existed before. Stream bank erosion in urban areas also represents a problem for water quality, as sedimentation downstream can adversely impact aquatic habitats and add to phosphorus loads in the lake. Increased bank erosion is often caused by rapid increases in flows following precipitation events, a result of old infrastructure that was designed to rapidly drain urban areas. Stewardship staff work with municipalities and private landowners to assist them with the design and implementation of ‘soft solutions’, such as bioengineering, to establish erosion control solutions that will adapt to changes in the river with time and provide a multitude of benefits. These include slope stabilization, increases in wildlife habitat, and reduced sediment inputs from soil erosion. Lake Simcoe Water Quality Improvement Program For landowners who show a keen interest in implementing environmental restoration projects, the associated costs often represent a barrier to completion. To address this, LSRCA staff work with municipal partners and other agencies to develop funding partnerships designed to provide landowners with the funding support they need to complete their project. This funding is provided through a number of programs, with LSRCA staff providing the leadership and technical assistance to assist with the development of required application details. The primary stewardship funding program offered by LSRCA is the Lake Simcoe Water Quality Improvement Program (LSWQIP). This program represents a continuing effort by the Authority to improve the water quality of Lake Simcoe and is linked to the LSEMS program. The primary goal of LSWQIP is to eliminate contamination of surface waters draining into Lake Simcoe from indirect and direct discharges of nutrients and sewage from both urban and rural sources. Further, the protection of our groundwater has been recognized with the addition of well decommissioning services. Funded annually by our

60

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

municipal partners and the Lake Simcoe Conservation Foundation, LSWQIP provides technical and financial assistance for the completion of environmental projects. Sustainable Development Smart Growth or sustainable development represents an adaptive response to how urban development has occurred in the past. It is the concept of making more sustainable development choices in order to create socially desirable urban areas with strong economies, while ensuring a healthy environment and combating urban sprawl. The Ontario Smart Growth Network (OSGN) defines smart growth as the “return to urban villages” which they go on to further define as "a place that has almost everything you need on a daily basis and you can walk to get there". Smart growth implies the development of complete communities with adequate shops, service industries, schools and opportunities for recreation within walking distance. These types of development by their nature are compact, and leave small ecological footprints respecting the natural environment and reducing the need to transform other land uses. The Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe will help to ensure the development of these complete communities. Chloride Reduction Some municipalities are taking steps to reduce chloride impacts as a result of winter operations by utilizing Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS), which consist of a network of roadway sensors to assess pavement conditions, and using anti-icing technology such as salt brine to reduce the quantity of applied material to the roadway.

61

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

3.0 Water Quantity
The key issues identified in the State of the Lake Simcoe Watershed report (LSEMS, 2003) with respect to Water Quantity were: • • • Water use and the availability of aquatic habitats have been impacted by decreases in streamflow results in loss of recreational opportunities and impacts the local economy; Areas of groundwater quality vulnerability need to be identified and protected to ensure clean sources of private and municipal drinking water; More information concerning water quantity for both surface and groundwater is required to ensure adequate protection of baseflow to the tributaries and Lake Simcoe, and as a source of private and municipal drinking water; Introduction

3.1

The availability of water is a key aspect of human and ecological health everywhere in the world. Water is the key requirement to sustain the basic functions of any ecosystem and is critical in consideration of social needs, which can potentially cause conflict between the two. All four of the LSEMS goals are linked to water quantity within the Lake Simcoe basin: • • • • Without a consistent water supply the ability to restore a selfsustaining coldwater fishery would be constrained, Water quality is directly influenced by water quantity and the two are intrinsically linked, The majority of the phosphorus load to Lake Simcoe is delivered via water (rain, sewage, streams). Water is a key pathway that requires to be considered in almost every reduction strategy, and Natural heritage features have significant influence on the hydrologic cycle which is critical in managing water quantity and quality.

Negative impacts to water quantity can reap significant impacts across the basin. Loss of groundwater can impact on drinking water supplies or reduce flow in streams, reduced rainfall or stream flow can have significant impacts on agriculture and natural heritage features. The awareness on the availability of water now and into the future is changing and is being recognized by the various LSEMS partners through new initiatives and programs such as Source Water Protection.

62

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

3.2

Current Conditions and Issues

Water Budget – Lake and Tributaries Water budgets describe the movement of water through the hydrologic cycle and quantify the volumes of water within and moving between each reservoir. As a result of continually changing land use and water use, water budgets are not static calculations but can be thought of as a comprehensive understanding of the flow system. Water budgets are a major component of watershed assessment and are required to help identify and manage water quantity issues across the province. A water budget allows the practitioner to develop an understanding of the interrelationships among the primary components of the hydrologic cycle in order to provide a background against which the impacts of land use changes can be assessed and mitigated. At a minimum, a water budget should satisfy the following requirements: i. ii. iii. identify and characterise all of the key components of the hydrologic cycle; quantify the components of the water balance equation; identify: a) key hydrologic processes and functions, b) the availability and quantity of water sources, and c) water uses and needs, d) seasonal trends and potential impacts to seasonal resources;

Anticipated Uses of Water Budgets Water budgets are tools that can be used: 1. to set quantitative hydrologic zones (eg. water allocation, recharge rates, etc.) within the context of the watershed plans; 2. as a decision making tool to evaluate, relative to established targets, the implications of existing and proposed land and water uses within the watersheds; 3. to evaluate the cumulative effects of land and water uses within watersheds; 4. to provide (sub)watershed scale framework within site-scale studies, such as a hydrological evaluation or how a sewage and water system plan will be conducted; 5. to help assess potential changes in the distribution and availability of water in different forms, locations and times due to global changes or regional climate variations on a short or long-term basis; 6. to help make informed decisions regarding the design of environmental monitoring programs; 7. to assist in setting targets for water conservation and, 8. to assist in establishing long term water supply plans.

63

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Assessment Scale Based on Provincial guidance (MOE 2006, 2007), Tier 1 water budget efforts are to be scoped based on the level of stress that exists in an area. The identification of subwatersheds that are experiencing some form of water quantity stress (Tier 1) will be studied in further detail in the near future. The detailed investigation (Tier 2 Water budget) will focus on the causes of the stress, supply issues and consider measures for stress reduction and mitigation. Stress has been defined through the following general equation;

Where; Water Taking = the amount of water (surface water or groundwater) consumed, Available Supply = Recharge for groundwater uses and streamflow for surface water takings Reserve = the proportion of available surface water or groundwater that is to be maintained for needs such as navigation, assimilative capacity, ecosystem health etc. (to be estimated as a proportion of baseflow and a low-flow statistic for groundwater and surface water respectively). The spatial and temporal scales at which water budget estimates are made, then, can exaggerate or mask water quantity stress. For example, significant seasonal water users (e.g. agricultural irrigation) may represent moderate or significant stress if the extraction is compared to monthly or seasonal supply values. If stress calculations are based upon annual average values, however, the few months of extraction is compared to annual availability, and the resultant stress results are lower. Similarly, a significant extraction from a specific site (e.g. a municipal well-field) may represent a moderate or significant proportion of recharge (supply) for the immediate sub-catchment. The larger the area considered however (i.e. if you ‘zoom out’ to a watershed scale), the lower the calculated stress of that same taking becomes because it is compared to a much larger supply term. In addition to the above mentioned criteria, consumptive use groundwater factors have not been applied, and therefore, results that reflect water balances for each watershed are deemed as preliminary. The intent of this report and subsequent water budget calculations is to define an overall assessment of stress in the broadest sense. Consumptive use factors will be applied in the next stage of reporting, the Tier 1 assessments, for each watershed. Basic Water Budget For the conceptual water budget, estimates of water movement through the watershed were completed using the following equations:

64

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Precipitation -Evapotranspiration = Runoff + Recharge Precipitation -Evapotranspiration - Runoff = Recharge Runoff = StreamFlow - BaseFlow Precipitation -Evapotranspiration –StreamFlow + BaseFlow = Recharge. Resulting in equation: SWI + GWI + P + Import = SWO + GWO + ET + Extraction + Export Equation Inputs SWI: Surface water fluxes into primary watersheds (i.e., across surface water divides) does occur in the Lake Simcoe watershed, as the Talbot River delivers water form the Trent-Severn waterway to the Lake Simcoe basin. GWI: Groundwater fluxes into primary watersheds (across surface water divides) are likely based upon the comparison of potentiometric surfaces against watershed boundaries. These fluxes are considered to be equivalent to outflows for the purposes of this exercise, but will be considered in future iterations of water budgets for stressed subwatersheds. P: Precipitation onto the watershed was estimated from interpolation of the climate station data from within and surrounding the watershed. Import: Water is piped into the watershed for municipal water supply; York Region receives water from Lake Ontario to supplement Aurora and Newmarket groundwater supplies. Equation Outputs: SWO: Lake Simcoe discharges directly to the Black-Severn watershed. This flow is not gauged but was pro-rated based upon a gauge at the outflow of Lake Couchiching. GWO: Groundwater fluxes out of primary watersheds (across surface water divides) are likely based upon the comparison of potentiometric surfaces against watershed boundaries. These fluxes are considered to be equivalent to inflows for the purposes of this exercise, but will be considered in future iterations of water budgets for stressed subwatersheds. ET: Mean annual actual evapotranspiration was estimated. Open water evaporation from Lake Simcoe was taken from the LSEMS A6 (2006) report, and the evaporation rates estimated in that report were applied to Lake Couchiching. Extraction: Water taking within the watersheds was estimated from the PTTW database for non-municipal taking. Municipal groundwater taking was taken from

65

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

available 2002 groundwater studies (average actual pump rates). While extraction may have increased since 2002 to accommodate growth, this value was considered more reasonable than the PTTW maximum. Surface water extraction from Lake Simcoe for municipal supplies was not considered. Export: Information on water diverted from the watershed (e.g., wastewater pipeline) was provided by the municipality (York Region). Preliminary Results Table 3.1 details the gross water budget for the Lake Simcoe watershed.

66

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Table 3.1 LAKE SIMCOE GROSS ANNUAL WATER BUDGET ESTIMATE P + SWI + GWI + Imports = ET + SWO + GWO + Extraction + Exports
Inputs P SWI*1 GWI*
3

mm 930.7 22.6 0 0

m3 3.09E+09 7.50E+07 0 5.84E+02

Outputs ET Evaporation*2 SWO GWO Extraction*5 Exports*
4

mm 502.1 145.9 251.5 0 14.4 0.005 913.9

m3 1.67E+09 4.85E+08 8.36E+08 0 4.78E+07 1.53E+04 3.04E+09 %Error NET mm m3 verify

Imports*4

953.3 LSRCA Basin Area 3324

3.17E+09

39.4
4.1

1.31E+08

km2

*1 *2 *3 *4 *
5

SWI via Talbot River is a gross estimate using limited Parks Canada data, SWO was prorated to Atherly Narrows from measured Lake Couchiching outflow (Scott et al., 2005) Direct evaporation from Lake Simcoe of 0.67 m/yr (Scott et al., 2005). GWI and GWO were assumed to be equal for this exercise. Potential inter-basin GW flows are discussed in the text. Import and export refers to water piped to Newmarket from Lake Ontario, and wastewater discharged to Lake Ontario, respectively (data from York Region). Municipal extraction was taken from 2002 GW studies (average annual), non-municipal extraction was taken from maximum permitted value in the PTTW database

67

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Stress Indications Potential water quantity stress was estimated at a subwatershed scale using annual data and the following equations. This assessment will be refined to consider monthly time steps, and incorporate additional information per the most recent guidance document. The following table outlines the process and assumptions behind the current estimations.
Process, data sources and assumptions Water Use Municipal Municipal groundwater extraction was taken from the 2002 groundwater study reports (2002 actual taking used). Surface water taking was estimated from the PTTW database Taken from PTTW database as maximum allowable. Potential refinement

Agricultural

Other

Extraction to be refined using actual pumping data from municipalities (recent GW values and Little Lake SW values) Non-permitted takings to be estimated and consumptive factors to be applied Industrial, commercial and all other Consumptive factors to be remaining extractions were taken from applied and known PTTW database as maximum allowable. seasonal uses (e.g., snowmaking) to treated as such

Available Supply Groundwater Surface water Reserve

Estimated as recharge (precipitation evapotranspiration - streamflow + baseflow) Annual mean streamflow pro-rated to include entire stream/subwatershed Not considered To be considered in Tier 1 work

The preliminary findings related to water quantity stresses are summarized below in Table 3.2. These findings are deemed as will be revised to reflect the suggestions noted above and the provincial guidance document (MOE, 2007). The last columns in each table represent extraction from surface and as a proportion (%) of available supply.

68

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Table 3.2: Stress Analysis - Lake Simcoe Watershed Subwatershed Name Area Precipitation ETc Annual Flow Baseflow Available GW Supply (Recharge= P-ETStreamflow+ Baseflow) mm/yr 144 158 195 187 189 226 283 294 248 171 198 147 294 226 205 273 170 375 Available SW Supply GW SW GW Stress SW Stress

km2 Gauged West Holland East Holland Black River Pefferlaw Brook Uxbridge Brook Beaver River Ungauged Talbot River Whites Creek Barrie Creeks Georgina Creeks Lovers Creek Innisfil Creeks Hewitts Creek Hawkstone Maskinonge Oro North Creeks Oro South Creeks Ramara Creeks 354.1 247.83 375.36 459.77 174.95 327.24 357.92 105.20 37.81 49.33 59.95 107.57 17.51 47.88 63.19 75.27 57.69 143.49

mm/year 828.27 842.6 871.69 879.12 877.48 908.2

mm/year 558.21 560.94 556.07 558.87 560.05 558.28

mm/yr 267 256 273 275 234 255

mm/yr 141 132 152 142 106 131

(Mean annual streamflow) Extraction (mm/yr) mm/yr 267 256 273 275 234 255 263 234 225 217 205 252 72 191 220 239 224 266 9 61 5 2 17 4 5 0 246 9 37 5 13 3 25 13 3 2

Extraction (mm/yr) % 2 2 0 2 0 1 0 0 52 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 6 38 2 1 9 2 2 0 99 5 19 3 4 1 12 5 2 1

% 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 23 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0

965.59 263 132 551.94 965.02 234 114 551.52 933.99 225 100 561.38 893.67 217 51 556.52 909.66 205 53 559.6 898.9 252 59 558.57 925.14 72 0 559.4 974.28 191 0 557.28 883.6 220 95 554.12 1008.01 239 63 559.16 952.11 224 0 557.66 994.64 266 202 556.13 5-9% of available supply being extracted 10% or more of available supply being extracted

69

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

3.3

Emerging Issues Facing Water Quantity

Reduced Streamflow in Tributaries Over the past few years there have been several tributaries of Lake Simcoe experiencing reduced or complete loss of flow. In 2007, both the Maskinonge River and Whites Creek had complete loss of flow for extensive periods of time in the later summer period (several weeks consecutively). This is primarily attributed to poor climatic and precipitation conditions but is raising significant concern both in the community and government agencies. Further investigation into these systems as well as others is beginning to identify other areas of concern in respect to the loss of Streamflow. Areas potentially impacted streamflow being identified include illegal water takings, loss of natural heritage cover impacting hydrologic cycle, historical stream alterations and others. Reduced or complete loss of streamflow represents significant potential ecological, social and agricultural threat. Illegal Water Taking The reduction of streamflow in several tributaries raises concern of water use and water taking. The MOE administers the Permit To Take Water (PTTWs) regulation in the province which is the principal tool for managing water quantity. Demands for increased water for irrigation or other commercial operations has increased due to the reduced availability of water from certain systems as well as changes in their respective operations. The MOE issues PTTWs to users after an evaluation of their required demand and then assessed against the environmental requirements of the system to ensure the ecological health of the system is not threatened. Illegal water taking from systems (stressed or not) does not recognize ecological requirements and represents a significant threat to the integrity of the system. Over the past few years, complaints to the MOE and/or LSRCA from the community on illegal water takings have increased significantly. Sustainable Water Supply The typical assumption is that there is no issue with water supply whether in the Lake Simcoe basin, the province or otherwise. While we may not be seeing significant issues with sustainable water supply within the Lake Simcoe basin we are seeing an emergence of the issue with an increasing amount of personal wells going dry and an increasing amount of water restrictions being imposed at the municipal level. The demand for water is expected to increase in the basin with increased growth and development and the emerging impacts associated with climate change. Consumptive Withdrawals Consumptive water use has been an emerging issue not only in the Lake Simcoe basin but province wide. In 2006, the MOE issued a series of changes to the PTTW regulation and recognized the issue of consumptive withdrawals (i.e. water bottling, concrete slurries). Consumptive withdrawals pose a potential threat to both surface and ground
70

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

water systems as the water withdrawn is not allowed to re-enter the hydrologic cycle and thus could create a stress condition. Future consumptive use commercial enterprises represent a potential threat in respect their respective amount of extraction and the location of the extraction (aquifer, surface water or recharge area). 3.4 Tools and Actions to Improve Water Quantity

Low Water Response Program The Low Water Response Network was developed in response to the recognition of changing climatic conditions in Southern Ontario, the specific trigger being low precipitation levels in 1999 which led to some of the lowest surface water flows and driest soil conditions in several decades. The Network provides a framework for the exchange of information, science and support between Provincial Ministries, local Conservation Authorities and local government. The Network also provides the definition of drought and the conditions and mitigative measures leading up to a drought, those being Level 1 (conservation), Level 2 (conservation and restriction) and Level 3 (conservation, restriction and regulation). As environmental conditions dictate, a working group evaluates precipitation and stream flow data, declares a Low Water Condition, if warranted, by watershed area (i.e. Lake Simcoe watershed as a whole) and disseminates the information to local Government. The Low Water Response document (which can be found at: http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/mnr/water/p774.html) can be used by the local Government to understand the significance of the Low Water Condition and pass this information, along with recommended actions, to the public. Current conditions for the Lake Simcoe watershed are updated monthly and posted on the LSRCA web page (http://www.lsrca.on.ca/Monitoring/lowwater.html). The Low Water Levels are determined based on benchmarks against which monthly precipitation and stream flow are evaluated against. The Levels refer to increasingly severe low water conditions that would precede a drought as well as the potential threat to the minimum flow requirements in rivers to support a river ecosystem. These Levels are most relevant to the conservation of water-taking from surface water streams and rivers as these typically act as the source, or recharge, of many other water resources. Reductions in precipitation or stream flow may not be immediately apparent in lake or groundwater levels, however, prolonged reductions will have an impact. Municipal Water Conservation Programs Water For Tomorrow: York Region’s Water Use Efficiency Program Water for Tomorrow is York Region's Water-Use Efficiency Program and includes the following activities: 1. Residential/commercial retrofits 2. Industrial, commercial and institutional water audits for larger users 3. Leakage reduction in all nine area municipalities 4. Broad-scale public and youth education 5. Summer water use reduction
71

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

6. York Children’s Water Festival York Region’s Water for Tomorrow program has been in place for 10 years and has saved approximately 20.3 million litres of water per day, enough water to supply a community of approximately 77,000 people. The program has also contributed positively to York Region’s objective to reduce greenhouse gases. Over 3,809 tonnes per year of carbon particulates and 14,375 tonnes per year of carbon dioxide are reduced as the result of Water for Tomorrow. Water for Tomorrow has been recognized for excellence by numerous organizations including the Ontario Water Works Association, Water Environmental Federation, FCM’s Sustainable Communities Awards and the World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan. Many of the components of Water for Tomorrow have been adopted by neighbouring municipalities and overseas in the United Kingdom and Eastern Europe. Some of the major accomplishments of the strategy include:
• • • • •

Over 106,000 low-flow showerheads installed Over 245,000 early-closing toilet flappers installed Reduction of 14,375 tonnes per year of carbon dioxide emissions Over 1,800 km of municipal watermains tested for leakage utilizing the District Meter Areas (DMAs) methodology Currently 20.33 million litres of sustained water savings per average day.

Water Conservation – City of Barrie One of the most effective ways to promote water conservation is through water efficiency programs. The City of Barrie has been very successful in implementing water efficiency programs. Water use statistics indicate this by the fact that water use per capita has fallen by 100L/capita/day since 1995 (at least 20% attributable to Water Efficiency programs). Some of the proactive examples include: 1. Even\Odd Lawn Watering Restrictions – Lawn watering is restricted by municipal address, even municipal addresses can water on even calendar days and odd municipal addresses can water on odd calendar days. Additionally, lawn watering may only occur between the hours of 6:00 P.M and 8:00 A.M on the applicable day. Increasing Water Rate Block Structure – The water rate structure increases the cost of water as water consumption increases. This gives everyone a financial incentive to reduce water consumption. Rebate Programs – The City of Barrie current provides rebates for replacing toilets in older home with new low flow fixtures. In the

2.

3.

72

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

past, the City has had programs for such items as water efficient showerheads, aerators and washing machines. 4. Active Promotion and Education Programs – The City of Barrie promotes public education through local newspapers and television and attending local events. The City also conducts workshops to assist residents in implementing gardens with native and low water using plants.

Durham Region Water Efficiency Program Durham Region’s Water Efficiency Program, known as Water Efficient Durham, was launched in 1996 to implement the Regional Water Use Efficiency Strategy adopted by Regional Council. Water Efficient Durham's mandate is to encourage efficient use of water among all water users. The Strategy includes universal metering of all users, water efficient fixtures/equipment/technology, leak detection/loss prevention/control program, public/employee information/education/outreach, landscaping techniques/site and urban design principles and economic incentives/cost-share/full costing recovery/ tax credits/rebate programs.

73

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

4.0 Fisheries and Aquatic Habitat
The Fisheries and Aquatic Habitat issues identified in the 2003 State of the Lake Simcoe Watershed report completed by the partners of the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy (LSEMS) were: • Aquatic habitats both in Lake Simcoe and its tributaries are being degraded or in some instances destroyed due to poor water quality, increased water temperature, hardening of the shoreline, stream channel alterations, in-stream obstructions, changes in stream hydrology, removal of streambank vegetation, introduction of exotic species, sedimentation and reductions in baseflow; and Changes in aquatic habitats are influencing the composition, diversity and abundance of aquatic communities and threatening some species. Decrease in fish habitat results in a decrease of associated recreational opportunities and subsequently impacts the local economy.

• •

4.1

Introduction

The health of Lake Simcoe’s aquatic community and the environmental conditions in the watershed are closely related, as the aquatic environment is directly impacted by activities that occur on the landscape. At the initiation of the LSEMS program, the partners identified the restoration of the coldwater fishery as one of the goals of the program, given that lake trout are an important indicator of ecosystem health as an established sensitive top predator (Ryder, 1990). Achieving this goal depends largely on improving water quality conditions, primarily by reducing phosphorus loads to the lake. In addition to its ecological value, a healthy fish community and fishery in Lake Simcoe and its watershed is also economically important. The lake supports a recreational industry with an estimated value in the hundreds of millions of dollars (LSEMS, 1995); a significant portion of this is derived from the fishery alone. Lake Simcoe is the most intensively fished inland lake in the province of Ontario with approximately 1 million angler hours per year of angling effort. Ice fishing is extremely popular with anglers and accounts for a significant portion of the angling effort targeting lake trout, whitefish and perch. The bass and pike fisheries are also important for the lake.

4.2

Current Conditions and Issues

Aquatic Habitat Unfortunately, as a result of the increase in human activities within the watershed the health of Lake Simcoe has declined. Impacts associated with continued urban, agricultural, recreational and rural land use activities within the watershed are contributing to an excessive amount of sediment and nutrients (specifically phosphorus) into Lake Simcoe. These activities combined with other stressors on the resource, such as the introduction of invasive species, increased fishing pressure, and eutrophication,
74

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

have resulted in a significant change in ecosystem health, and as such the native coldwater fish community has been significantly impacted. Future impacts of climate change are largely unknown at this point, however, it will definitely have an influence on the fish communities and aquatic habitat of Lake Simcoe. Aquatic habitat issues identified in the 2003 State of the Watershed report included poor water quality, increases in water temperature, shoreline hardening, stream channel alterations, in-stream obstructions, changes in stream hydrology, removal of streambank vegetation, and introduction of exotic species, sedimentation and reductions in baseflow. Lake Habitat Poor Water Quality This section is specifically addressed in Section 2.1. Dissolved Oxygen/Phosphorus Link Coldwater fish species such as lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) and lake herring (Coregonus artedii) require relatively cold, well oxygenated water for their survival and clean spawning shoals for egg incubation and reproduction. Agricultural activity and urbanization within the Lake Simcoe watershed has increased phosphorous inputs and resulted in accelerated eutrophication. Eutrophication has caused an excess amount of algae and plant material to be present in the lake. As this material is decomposed by bacteria, important oxygen is consumed by this process. In the summer months, as surface water temperatures rise, cold water species move into the hypolimnion (cold lower layers of the lake), where dissolved oxygen is continually being depleted, and often reaches critical levels for sensitive fish. The process of eutrophication also contributes to the sedimentation of spawning shoals, which can impair the natural reproduction of fish. Excess growth of filamentous algae on spawning beds can prevent fish eggs from falling into protective crevices among the rocks, thus making them available to predators. Loss of habitat for the cold-water fish community has been identified as a major factor in the decline of natural recruitment of the native lake trout, lake whitefish, and lake herring (Coregonus artedii) (Evans et al. 1996). Field and laboratory research have shown the detrimental effects of low dissolved oxygen levels on salmonid species, including lake trout (Evans, 2005; Evans et al., 1996; Lienesch et al., 2005). At ambient dissolved oxygen concentrations of <7mg/L, lake trout experience reduced scope-for-activity (i.e. the ability to perform work which directly compromises swimming ability, feeding, avoidance of predators, growth and survival), especially at the juvenile life stage (Evans, 2005).

75

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

The mean volume-weighted hypolimnetic dissolved oxygen (MVWHDO) concentration of a lake during the critical end of summer period (August 15 - September 15) provides an easily measured field metric that closely approximates the ambient dissolved oxygen conditions of the summer habitat of juvenile lake trout. A dissolved oxygen level below 3mg/L corresponds to the incipient lethal threshold for lake trout and a level of 5mg/L causes a 50% reduction in maximum power available for critical activities. (Evans, 2006). A survey of the effects of hypoxia on lake trout recruitment in central Ontario lake trout lakes indicated highly variable recruitment success among lakes. Recruitment was rated good to very good in lakes with MVWHDO above 7-8 mg/L, but dropped off quickly for lakes with MVWHDO <7 mg/L, and was rated very poor below 4 mg/L, and extinct below 3.0 mg/L (Evans, 2005). This is consistent with recruitment failure of lake trout observed following experimental fertilization of a small lake in Alaska. (Lienesch et al., 2005). OMNR has recently confirmed that Lake Simcoe is designated as a natural lake trout lake (OMNR, 2006) and will be managed to restore its natural lake trout population. ‘Natural’ lakes have been defined to include those lakes that may have lost their selfsustaining native populations, but that have excellent potential for rehabilitation (OMNR, 2006). Pre-settlement, end-of-summer hypolimnetic dissolved oxygen concentration for Lake Simcoe has been modeled at approximately 8 mg/L, indicating that, historically, the summer habitat for juvenile lake trout in Lake Simcoe would have supported strong natural recruitment (Evans et al., 1996). Lake Simcoe late summer hypolimnetic dissolved oxygen concentrations declined from about 4.5 mg/L in 1975 to 2.0 mg/L by 1993 (Evans et al., 1996), hence passed through the critical threshold for survival of lake trout. In essence, Lake Simcoe is comprised of three distinct areas defined primarily by lake depth: Cook’s Bay a shallow eutrophic bay, the main lake basin being a mid-depth mesotrophic lake and Kempenfelt Bay a deep, cold oligotrophic arm of Lake Simcoe. Kempenfelt Bay is a critical area with respect to rearing and juvenile habitat of coldwater fish and especially lake trout in Lake Simcoe. Kempenfelt Bay is a deep (fjord like) bay of Lake Simcoe and has very dramatic shoreline drop-offs into deep water. These physical characteristics provide the highest volume and area of suitable hypolimnetic habitat in Lake Simcoe and are particularly suitable for the rearing of juvenile lake trout. The primary factor for lake trout restoration in Lake Simcoe is a healthy environment and abundant suitable habitat; however, other factors could influence recovery. Changes in the status of other components of the native biota or introduced species could alter fish community dynamics with unpredictable positive or negative impacts on lake trout population recovery (McMurtry and Amtstaetter, 1999). Lake Trout Habitat As discussed, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) and other coldwater fish species require relatively cold, well oxygenated water for their survival; and also require clean
76

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

spawning shoals for egg incubation and reproduction. Agricultural activity and urbanization within the Lake Simcoe watershed has increased phosphorous inputs and resulted in accelerated eutrophication. The process of eutrophication also contributes to the sedimentation of spawning shoals, which can impair natural reproduction. Excess growth of filamentous algae on spawning beds can prevent fish eggs from falling into protective crevices among the rocks, thus making them available to predators. Together, it is believed that degradation of hypolimnetic dissolved oxygen levels and spawning habitat has resulted in recruitment failure of cold-water species in Lake Simcoe. Shoreline Hardening Shoreline “hardening” refers to both lake and river shoreline erosion protection utilizing unnatural practices such as concrete and sheet steel. Hardening tends to rid the shoreline of interstitial spaces, organic material and shading that fish need to carry out their life processes, and is often associated with the removal of riparian vegetation. Changing permitting policies and combined efforts of approval agencies (DFO, MNR, LSRCA) have begun to reverse this trend. Since 2003, through both changes to LSRCA policy and a Level III fish habitat agreement with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), LSRCA review staff have had the opportunity to reduce the “hardarmouring” of shorelines in favour of “soft-armouring” or natural erosion control through the use of rounded boulders and plantings that follow the natural contours of the waterbody. Between 2004 and 2006 it is estimated that 1.3% of the lake perimeter was naturalized through these efforts. Tributary Habitat Water Temperatures Increased water temperature within tributaries has been and continues to be a potential threat to the aquatic ecosystems within watercourses across the Lake Simcoe basin. Loss of coldwater streams across southern Ontario over the past century has significantly reduced the number and extent of coldwater systems. Water temperatures are principally affected by lack of riparian shade, groundwater discharge reduction, increased stormwater runoff and climate change. Land clearing for urban development and agricultural practices (in absence of riparian buffers), pumping groundwater for bottling and irrigation purposes and increased impermeable surfaces from urban growth (e.g. parking lots) all contribute to increases in stream water temperatures. Looking forward, the protection of existing coldwater systems is a key issue in light of increased growth challenges and climate change. To assist in protecting and understanding the status of watercourses within the Lake Simcoe basin the LSRCA has produced a map in consultation with the MNR (Figure 4.1) of the relative thermal status of watercourses. This map clearly displays the distribution of warm and cold water systems within the basin. The thermal status of a system determines the in water construction timing window and the level of protection the system will receive.

77

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Maintaining coldwater systems is a key factor in the protection of the ecosystem and maintaining ecological function.

Figure 4.1: Thermal mapping of the Lake Simcoe watershed

LSRCA utilizes electronic water temperature loggers at the mouths of most of the major watersheds, at each fishery site and at other strategic locations such as headwaters and confluences. Temperature loggers are programmed to collect water temperatures at hourly intervals allowing for the analysis of seasonal and diurnal temperature changes. When combined with air temperature, a system can be described as stable or unstable depending on the influence of air temperature on the water temperature. If the water “heats-up” during heat waves, the water is considered unstable or warmwater
78

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

habitat. If the water temperature is not or is only slightly affected during a heat wave, the temperature is considered stable or coldwater habitat. Some fish, such as mottled sculpin (Cottus bairdi) and brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are excellent indicators of coldwater as groundwater upwellings are a key requirement in their life cycle. Thus, the presence of these species can indicate coldwater temperatures in the absence of temperature data. Cold water streams require a higher degree of vegetated buffer adjacent to the watercourse to protect them compared to warmwater systems. The primary form of protection, as required through LSRCA Policy and some municipal planning documents, is the maintenance of a vegetated buffer between any development and a watercourse. These are 30 metres and 15 metres for cold and warmwater habitats, respectively. Reductions in Baseflow Baseflow is principally comprised of groundwater discharge within a stream system. The Authority has been investigating and collecting detailed baseflow information for several years to properly assess and understand the state of baseflow across the basin. The three principal constraints on baseflow supply are climate change (which is difficult to address on a local scale); water withdrawal and pumping for domestic, industrial and agriculture use; and land use change through growth, which increases the amount of impervious area, thus decreasing the amount of groundwater recharge and results in a modified hydrologic cycle. On a site by site basis the LSRCA will continue to address groundwater recharge/discharge through the development submission review process which requires that each development match its pre-development water budget condition with its predicted post-development water budget. The intent is to ensure that a system’s ground and surface water budget is not impacted, especially in sensitive areas such as the headwaters of tributaries. Water taking for various uses represents the largest threat to ensuring the ability to maintain baseflow for stream systems. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment is responsible for evaluating and issuing Permits to Take Water (PTTW). This is a critical area for serious consideration and evaluation because the demand for ground and surface water from residential, recreational and industrial users is ever increasing; this in turn significantly increases the threat to aquatic ecosystems. Changing climatic conditions across Ontario and beyond represent a significant potential threat to maintaining baseflow in systems under stress. Section 3 (Water Quantity) outlines in more details the issues of climate change on flow and streams as well as recommendations for expanded water conservation programs. Sedimentation Sedimentation results from exposed soils within the floodplain and table lands of a watercourse. Rain or snow melt carries the unstable soil particles into nearby streams,
79

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

which can cause significant damage to fish and fish habitat. When suspended in the water column, excess sediment can cause gill erosion and disorient fish, making them vulnerable to predators and unable to find food. As the sediment deposits onto the bed of the watercourse, it can bury important spawning substrates and aquatic invertebrates, smother eggs in their nests, and fill in deep pools used for shelter and rest. Through LSRCA and Provincial Policy and regulations, properly installed sediment controls are a requirement of any development or project. LSRCA Enforcement, Planning and Engineering staff closely monitors construction sites to ensure compliance. Fisheries and Oceans Canada also enforces proper sediment control practices through the pollution prevention provisions of the federal Fisheries Act. Through these efforts, new sources of excessive sedimentation are minimized; however, there are still older developments that continue to be a source of sediment. Retrofitting these areas with stormwater management would address both excessive sedimentation and impaired water quality. Options for stormwater mitigation are outlined for each municipality in the LSRCA’s Lake Simcoe Basin Stormwater Management and Retrofit Opportunities 2007 report. Stream Channel Alterations Through LSRCA Policy, the Conservation Authorities Act and the Fisheries Act, harmful stream alterations such as straightening or the creation of on-line ponds are no longer considered for approval. Any contemporary stream alteration projects must be designed in such a way that harmful impacts are mitigated, using the principles and practices of natural channel design and bio-engineering. The maintenance of an appropriate buffer is also a requirement. In-Stream Obstructions In-stream obstructions such as man-made dams, weirs and perched culverts not only create a barrier to the movement of fishes but also typically result in impoundments that increase water temperatures and disrupt the natural flow of water and transport of sediment and nutrients. Removal of these on-line structures is, in most cases, of utmost importance to the health of our watershed. .To this end, financial and consulting assistance to remove on-line structures and barriers is offered through various Provincial, LSRCA and non-profit organizations’ programs. Stream Hydrology Stream hydrology is constantly being assessed and addressed across the basin through a variety of means. Ongoing assessment and modeling of the hydrologic ability of systems is being done to better understand how each system responds to precipitation and land use changes. This information is key in developing flood and fill lines as well as a key piece of the Authorities Regulation (O.Reg. 179/06) that addresses development and land use in regulated areas. Detailed understanding of hydrology is dynamic; any land use change, new bridge, or stormwater pond can potentially affect
80

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

hydrology and therefore careful consideration is applied in the ongoing programs of the Authority. Hydrology is also considered in the CA’s review of development and planning submissions and permit applications. This is a principal function of the Authority and is one of the reasons that Conservation Authorities were established in the wake of Hurricane Hazel. Protecting both property and people as well as ensuring the viable function of streams and watercourses in the Lake Simcoe basin is a core business area of the Authority. Removal of Streambank Vegetation As required through LSRCA Policy, a vegetated buffer is required between any development and a watercourse. The buffer must be at least 30 metres and 15 metres for cold and warmwater habitats, respectively. Additional buffer requirements exist for specified areas of the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Greenbelt under provincial legislation. A number of public and private land stewardship programs are in place to help property owners re-vegetate riparian areas. These programs make every effort to educate municipal and private partners as to the importance of leaving an unmaintained vegetated “buffer strip”. The presence of a buffer is directly linked to the potential for stream temperatures to remain optimal and help to maintain ecological function along the stream and riparian corridor. Maintaining a riparian buffer on streams and rivers is a key feature of the natural heritage fabric of the Lake Simcoe basin. The recommendations for the protection of natural heritage features are detailed in Section 5. Lake Simcoe Fisheries Fish Community Monitoring Earliest written records of the Lake Simcoe fishery come from French explorers and missionaries visiting the Huron in the early seventeenth century. A significant multi species commercial fishery was established and documented on Lake Simcoe in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. After law prohibited the sale of all game fish in 1903, the sport fishery increased significantly. The lake’s fishery has continued to expand and grow in popularity. Long term monitoring is necessary to understand how stressors such as eutrophication, fishing pressure, habitat alteration, invasive species, and changes in water quality affect the fish communities of Lake Simcoe and the fishery. The Lake Simcoe Fisheries Assessment Unit (LSFAU) of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources conducts long term monitoring of fish species in Lake Simcoe and the stressors that affect them. The LSFAU continues its longstanding tracking of the Lake Simcoe fish community, including creel surveys, index netting programs, and documentation of invasive species. Similarly the LSRCA have an annual monitoring program in the tributaries. This monitoring consists of sampling of fish and benthic invertebrates at several sites annually, to support LSRCA and LSEMS programs.

81

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

The fish community of Lake Simcoe is a diverse assemblage of warm and cold water species comprised of 49 species of fish, 5 of which are not native to the lake (LSFAU, 2003). This does not include recent invaders to the lake such as the round goby or additional species from the LSRCA’s tributary monitoring. Status of the Coldwater Fish Community Due to the impact of eutrophication, cold water fish species in Lake Simcoe have undergone a dramatic decline in abundance (Table 4.1). As early as the 1970s, water quality in the lake was identified as one of the possible causes of this decline. Generally, the 1960’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s each saw a dramatic decline of an important cold water species, first lake trout, then lake whitefish, followed by the lake herring, and rainbow smelt populations. Large scale stocking programs were initiated to maintain the native stocks of lake trout and whitefish in Lake Simcoe and prevent Lake Trout (photo credit: The Lake Trout (photo credit: Dennis them from disappearing altogether. The Lake Simcoe Wilderness Classroom) [found on O’Hara, Northern Images lake whitefish was originally designated in 1987 as http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/fishing/lk_ont_lake threatened by COSEWIC; however, a recent status _trout.html) review by COSEWIC in 2005 found that the evidence regarding the distinctiveness of this population was inconclusive and its status was changed to data deficient. This population is not legally listed under federal or provincial species at risk legislation. The lake trout population is predominantly comprised of stocked fish with <0.10% of noclip (wild) fish recorded (MacRae, 2001) compared to wild whitefish comprising ~1430% of the population (Amstaetter, 2002). Since the 1960’s, the combined (wild and stocked) catch of lake trout has increased while the catch of whitefish declined.
Table 4.1: Status of cold-water fish species in Lake Simcoe.

Species Lake trout Lake whitefish Lake herring

Status Juvenile wild fish present and a small number of wild fish surviving to adulthood; 100 000 yearlings stocked each spring Wild fish declining; 140 000 fingerlings stocked each fall Virtually absent

More recently, increased natural reproduction and survival of lake trout has recently been detected by the LSFAU coincident with water quality improvements. Two young (<1 year old), wild lake trout were caught in 2001 during a bottom trawling program to index the abundance of juvenile coldwater fish in their summer habitat, while previous similar surveys in 1991 and 1992 caught no wild lake trout (Willox, 2001). In addition to continued catches of young (1-5 year old), wild lake trout, multiple age classes of wild, naturally produced lake trout have been documented in a number of assessment programs since 2002, indicating that a small number of naturally reproduced fish are

82

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

surviving to adulthood (La Rose and Willox, 2006). Most of the wild juvenile lake trout have been captured in Kempenfelt Bay (LSFAU, unpublished data). The traditional forage of lake trout in Lake Simcoe was lake herring which declined significantly in the 1980’s. Unintentionally introduced to Lake Simcoe in the early 1960’s the rainbow smelt, whose population peaked in abundance in 1973, also became an important prey fish for lake trout. However, presently both of these forage fish are in decline. Status of the Warmwater Fish Community Species that prefer warm water, such as yellow perch, northern pike, large and smallmouth bass, and pumpkinseed, are generally less sensitive to the changes in water chemistry that occur with eutrophication than are cold water species. The warm water fish community of Lake Simcoe have therefore not shown the same declining trends as Lake Simcoe’s cold water species (McMurtry, 1999). These warm water species generally fluctuate in abundance from year to year. Monitoring data do not suggest long term declining trends in any of the warm water fishes of Lake Simcoe. Efforts continue to help restore the native population of muskellunge to Lake Simcoe which declined rapidly after the 1930’s due to overexploitation, habitat loss and fish community changes. Status of Lake Simcoe’s Tributary Fish Community Lake Simcoe’s tributaries are important spawning and nursery habitats for a number of the lake’s fishes (i.e. walleye, etc.) and are also important habitats for sensitive cold water species such as brook trout. Although a number of headwaters of Lake Simcoe’s tributaries have been degraded to the point where brook trout have been extirpated, healthy populations of brook trout are present in quality habitats of the East and West Holland Rivers, the Black River, Uxbridge Brook, Pefferlaw River, Lovers Creek, Hewitts Creek, the Barrie Creeks, Oro Creeks and Hawkestone Creek. Aquatic Species at Risk A number of species in Canada have been threatened by human activity. There is federal (Species at Risk Act) and new provincial (Endangered Species Act which comes into affect on June 30, 2008) legislation to protect these vulnerable species in Canada and Ontario, respectively. In the Lake Simcoe watershed we have two species of fish that are recognized under federal and/or provincial species at risk legislation. Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) Populations of this very large, prehistoric looking, fish range from the St. Lawrence River in eastern Canada, Hudson Bay in the North and to the North Saskatchewan River in Alberta (Scott and Crossman, 1973). Overexploitation, habitat loss and fragmentation have all played a role in the demise of several populations across its
83

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

range. The Great Lakes – Upper St. Lawrence populations of lake sturgeon are presently designated as threatened (a species that is likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and the federal government is currently considering whether or not to legally list these populations under the federal Species at Risk Act. At the provincial level lake sturgeon are designated as special concern (all populations combined) and will be legally listed as such when the Endangered Species Act, 2007 comes into force on June 30, 2008. In the late 1800’s Lake Simcoe’s commercial fishery reported the sale of 136,500 pounds of lake sturgeon from 1881 to 1898 (MacCrimmon and Skobe, 1970). The only other records of sturgeon in Lake Simcoe come from a 42” angler caught fish in 1956 (MacCrimmon and Skobe, 1970) and a single sturgeon caught in a trapnet in 1962 by the Lake Simcoe Fisheries Assessment Unit. Redside Dace (Clinostomus elongatus) In Canada, the redside dace is almost exclusively found in Southern Ontario and is mainly concentrated in the GTA. This minnow species requires cool, clear flowing water with riffle-pool sequences and overhanging streamside vegetation. Increased turbidity, declining water quality and loss of physical habitat have combined to threaten redside dace populations. Based on observed declines andimminent threats to remaining populations, Ontario designated the Redside dace (photo credit: species as threatened in 2000 and it will be legally listed Jeff Andersen, LSRCA) when the Endangered Species Act, 2007 comes into force on June 30, 2008. COSEWIC upgraded the national status designation for this species from special concern to endangered in 2007. The federal government is currently considering whether or not to legally list this species under the federal Species at Risk Act. Redside dace populations have been consistently observed in Kettleby Creek in the West Holland River watershed and have been historically reported in Sharon Creek in the East Holland River watershed (Andersen, 2007 pers. comm.). Aquatic Invasive Species Lake Simcoe is similar to the Great Lakes in that introductions of invasive species have been occurring since European settlement. Invasive species can have profound impacts on the lake’s ecological balance as well as affect recreational, social and municipal activities. The introduction and subsequent proliferation of certain invasive species can alter ecosystem processes and functions, disrupt trophic balance and ultimately result in the
84

Eurasian watermilfoil clogging a waterway (photo credit: Robert L. Johnson, Cornell University)

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

loss of habitat. The most effective means of stopping the spread of invasives is prevention. Controlling the spread of invasive species, once established, is difficult and varies with every species and situation. Rapid response options for control include chemical (the use of pesticides), biological (the introduction of species that prey on the invader), or mechanical (the physical removal of specimens). Not all options are available to control every invasive species, and each one much be carefully evaluated to determine their own impacts to the environment. Examples of aquatic invasive species in the Lake Simcoe basin are the zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha), quagga mussel (Dreissena bugensis) spiny water flea (Bythotrephes cederstroemi), common carp (Cyprinus carpio), black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) and Eurasian Watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) (LSFAU, 2004). The most recent documented invader is the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus) which was first identified in the Pefferlaw River in 2004. Invasive species can have substantial impacts on the ecosystems that they invade. Their traits enable them to outcompete native species for food, water, sunlight, nutrients and space. This may result in the eventual reduction in the number and abundance of native species. Replacement of native species with introduced species affects the balance of the ecosystem. Once established, invasive species can facilitate subsequent invasions Black Crappie (photo credit: Erling of other species (i.e. the establishment of zebra Holm, Royal Ontario Museum) mussels facilitated the spread of round goby given that they are a native food source for goby). Ecosystems that are already under stress are particularly vulnerable to invasions. The process may happen more quickly in already disturbed systems than it would in a healthy community. Species of Special Concern - Zebra Mussels The initial introductions of zebra mussels into Lake Simcoe were recorded in 1991 and were fully colonized in the littoral zone (nearshore waters) by 1995. Zebra mussels have incredible ability to filter water and subsequently filter particulate matter and phytoplankton, resulting in significant increases in water clarity. It is estimated that the population of zebra mussels in Lake Simcoe can filter approximately 24% of the total lake volume per day (Evans, 2007). The result of the increased water clarity from zebra mussel filtering and its response in respect to ecological, chemical, physical and social parameters is just now beginning to be understood. There has been an increase in plant biomass and distribution in Cook’s Bay as a result of increased light availability for aquatic plant growth (Stantec 2006, Guildford,
85

Zebra mussels encrusting a boat anchor (photo credit: LSRCA)

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

2007). Preliminary research is linking the establishment of zebra mussels in Lake Simcoe to changes in hypolimnetic oxygen levels (Evans, pers. comm.). The long-term effects that zebra mussels will have on the ecology of Lake Simcoe are not known and even more difficult to predict. Zebra mussels’ incredible ability to filter water also results in an increase in bioavailable phosphorus into the bottom sediments through excretion. The extent of the impact that this bioavailable phosphorus may have on the nearshore ecological community is not known but is being investigated. Continued monitoring and research is critical in continuing to understand the role of mussels as well as assist in the development of management options and recommendations. Species of Special Concern – Round Goby The Pefferlaw Brook, a tributary of Lake Simcoe, is the location of the second known invasion of the round goby into inland waters of Ontario. The invading fish was first detected in the system in 2004. Given the potential impacts round goby could have on the biodiversity and fishery of Lake Simcoe, it was decided that action to control the spread of this species prior to its invasion of the lake was necessary. Information on the Distribution of the round goby and the site conditions of the impacted system were collected. A number of options to deal with the imminent Round Goby (photo credit: Environment threat were evaluated; however, after consulting Canada) with several other agencies, experts, stakeholders and the public, the application of rotenone was recognized as the only available option that could potentially accomplish the goal of eradication. Given the known distribution and rapid downstream spread of the round goby, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) decided to treat a 5km section of the brook with a piscicide, Rotenone. This organic product extracted from a plant that targets gill breathers has a long history of use in North America. In October of 2005 a rotenone application was successfully implemented to try to eradicate goby and prevent them from invading Lake Simcoe. The application of this chemical piscicide was performed by licensed staff of the DFO’s Sea Lamprey Control group by boat in the lower portions of the river and at the dam in the village of Pefferlaw. The treatment of the Pefferlaw Brook involved a large coordinated effort by a number of federal, provincial, and municipal agencies along with tremendous support from nongovernment organizations and the public. Initial results of the application were positive with evidence of dead goby and the identification of no goby in areas where they were not known to be prior to the treatment. Water quality sampling during the treatment found that there was no migration of rotenone into groundwater, that rotenone was almost completely detoxified one day after the treatment, and that no increase in volatile

86

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

organic compounds (VOCs) occurred. Post treatment sampling found native fish returning to the system in as little as two weeks after the treatment. Continued sampling in 2006 showed that 33 of 37 native fish species originally found in the river prior to the treatment have already returned. This does not include any additional fish species that MNR and other agencies’ staff had not physically sampled and verified such as the walleye which according to local residents were very abundant during the spring spawning run in 2006. Unfortunately, this monitoring also revealed the presence of goby post treatment, catching progressively more goby as the summer of 2006 progressed. On Friday July 28th 2006, MNR trawled off of the mouth of the Pefferlaw and caught a goby in Lake Simcoe, in about 20 feet of water. Now that the presence of goby has been verified in Lake Simcoe, MNR staff and its partners agree that the goal of eradicating the goby from the Lake Simcoe watershed is no longer possible. Efforts have therefore shifted to monitoring their spread within Lake Simcoe and preventing their further spread to other waterbodies. As always, anglers are asked to help stop the spread of Invasive Species and to keep and report any possible goby captures from Lake Simcoe or its tributaries to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH)/MNR Invading Species Hotline at 1-800 563-7711. 4.3 Emerging Issues Facing Fisheries and Aquatic Habitat

Invasive Species Pathways of Introduction Many introduced aquatic species arrive via the Great Lakes, where they are discharged with the ballast water of ships arriving from Europe or Asia. From there, they can be transported to other inland watersheds through a number of means. Some attach to boats and trailers and other recreational equipment, while others will be present in bilge water. Much of the spread of invasive aquatic species such as zebra mussels, spiny water flea, and invasive aquatic plants can be attributed to the movement of boats and other aquatic recreational vehicles from affected watersheds to those that have not yet been invaded. These organisms and their seeds, eggs and larvae can travel in water in the boats and motors and can also attach themselves to boat hulls and trailers. Anglers can further the spread of these species by moving bait from one watershed into the waters of another. Bait transport is one of the pathways invasive fishes are introduced to uninvaded waters. This was the likely method of introduction of the round goby into the Lake Simcoe watershed. Other means by which non-native aquatic invasive species are introduced include their release from aquariums (this can result in introductions of both plants and fish) and the accidental escape/release from fish culture operations.

87

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Economic Impact In addition to the impact that invasive species have on the ecosystems of the Lake Simcoe basin, they can also be detrimental to the local economy. Recreational activities such as angling, boating and swimming can all be affected by invasive species. Some invasives become nuisances to anglers and in turn make the invaded lake less appealing to anglers. Dense stands of aquatic plants can make boating, swimming, and other pursuits in the water difficult and unpleasant. The recreation industry in Lake Simcoe has a very significant socio-economic value, and there are many recreation-based businesses that would not be able to survive without these activities. 4.4 Tools and Actions to Date to Improve Fisheries and Aquatic Habitat

Research into Coldwater Fish Requirements A number of relationships within the coldwater fish community are presently being investigated using long term monitoring data. For example, the limiting factors to natural reproduction, in addition to low oxygen levels (i.e. habitat, predation, competition) are being looked at by researchers such as Dr. David Evans. Impacts on the fish community and hypolimnetic oxygen levels by invasive species such as zebra mussels are also being monitored and investigated. Lake Simcoe Muskellunge Restoration Project Over harvest, habitat loss and ecological change all contributed to the loss of the native population of muskellunge in Lake Simcoe. A study published in 2000 determined that restoring the muskellunge to Lake Simcoe was a feasible fisheries management objective. The goal of the Lake Simcoe Muskellunge Restoration Project is to restore a self sustaining muskellunge population to Lake Simcoe through a long term restoration project including habitat enhancement and stocking efforts. Habitat surveys have shown that the lake can support a muskellunge population and stocking of fingerling muskellunge has occurred annually since 2005. Future assessments will determine the success of the stocking efforts. Invasive Species: Monitoring and Control Routine monitoring of Lake Simcoe and its tributaries is completed by both the LSRCA and the MNR. The fish and benthic invertebrate communities are tracked on a regular basis through these monitoring activities, and non-native species are also detected. Once a non-native species has been detected, the information can be passed along to the appropriate agencies so that the necessary actions, if they exist, can be undertaken. Enhanced understanding of how these species spread through the watershed will assist in the development of management strategies to control the impacts of these species.

88

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Invasive Species: Response There is currently no formal framework for responding to the detection of an invasive species in the Lake Simcoe watershed. Significant new invasions have been dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The development of a framework would help ensure a rigorous and systematic risk assessment and evaluation of response options when addressing new threats from invasive species. Invasive Species: Awareness and Education Preventing the spread of exotic species is key to reducing their impacts. Awareness of the impacts of invasive species and education about how to prevent their spread are important tools in preventing unknowing resource users from spreading these species between watersheds. Groups such as the OFAH and the MNR currently undertake a significant effort to educate people about these issues – press releases, a website, attendance at trade shows, and education cards are some of the tools that they use to make people aware of these issues. Collaboration between agencies and consistent messaging targeting multiple audiences may enhance public knowledge of the threats posed by invasive species on ecosystem health. Partnerships Partnerships are very important in the fight against the spread of invasive species. Because their spread has the potential to move across political and watershed boundaries, it is imperative that agencies work together to help prevent invasions and to keep them from spreading when introductions do happen. Many agencies have a role to play in preventing impacts related to invasive species. The federal government has recently passed legislation that requires ships arriving from Asia and Europe to exchange their ballast water in the open ocean before they enter our waters. This will help to prevent the discharge of non-native aquatic species into our watersheds. Provincial and local agencies work together by monitoring, sharing information about introductions and spread of invasive species, educating residents about how to prevent their spread, and, wherever possible, combining resources to control the establishment of these species in our watersheds.

89

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

5.0 Natural Heritage
The key issues identified in the State of the Lake Simcoe Watershed report (LSEMS, 2003) with respect to Natural heritage were: • • • • • • • • • There is a lack of the natural corridors required to maintain the ecological functions of many areas; Terrestrial habitats (wetlands and woodland) are being destroyed and fragmented by continued urbanization or conversion into farmland; Many existing habitat remnants (woodlands and wetlands) are too small to support viable populations; Invasive exotic species are becoming more widespread as urbanization increases; Available information is often inadequate to make appropriate land use decisions; Impacts of improper or outdated farming practices; Impacts of the large industry located in this watershed ; and Policies and regulations meant to protect natural features not defined or identified under the Provincial Policy Statement have been ineffective in protecting these features. Loss of green space and natural heritage features contributing to a loss of recreational opportunities and the subsequent impact on the local economy. Introduction

5.1

Natural Heritage is an inclusive term that refers generally to terrestrial, wetland and aquatic features (i.e., woodlands, marshes, streams, etc.) and functions (i.e., wildlife habitat, etc) of the landscape. Natural heritage is often referred to within the context of a ‘system’; the natural heritage system being generally comprised of core conservation lands and waters linked by natural corridors and are identified as landscape networks for the conservation of biological diversity, natural processes and viable populations of indigenous species and ecosystems (Riley and Mohr, 1994). Protection of the natural heritage features and ecological functions not only protects the intrinsic value associated with flora and fauna, but also will aid in improving air quality (OMNR, 2006), provide safe drinking water (Gabor et al., 2001) and maintain a better quality of life (MPIR, 2006) for those living, working and/or playing in the watershed. This was identified as one of the four goals for the LSEMS program, and the protection of these features also contributes to the achievement of the other LSEMS goals.

90

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

5.2

Current Conditions and Issues

5.2.1 Woodlands The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) (MMAH, 2005) defines woodlands to mean, “treed areas that provide environmental and economic benefit to both the private landowner and the general public, such as erosion prevention, hydrological and nutrient cycling, provision of clean air and the term storage of carbon, provision of wildlife habitat, outdoor recreational opportunities, and the sustainable harvest of a wide range of woodland products. Woodlands include treed areas, woodlots or forested areas and vary in their level of significance at the local, regional and provincial levels.” Structural diversity of habitat is a strong driver of biodiversity. In woodlands, habitat niches can range from microhabitats such as the surfaces of fissured trunks, leaves and rotting logs to macrohabitat features such as the horizontal layers within the forest (e.g., supercanopy, canopy, subcanopy). In addition, woodlands are present in a wide variety of topographic positions and soil and moisture regimes. These can range from talus slopes to heavy clay soils; from saturated organics to very dry sandy soils. For all of these reasons it is not surprising that many woodland species are obligates (i.e., they are only found in woodlands), or that woodlands provide habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna. They form important building blocks of the natural heritage system. Why Are Woodlands Important The Natural Heritage Reference Manual (OMNR, 1999) lists a variety of important functions associated with woodlands and Larson et al. (1999) summarize the importance of woodlots. These important functions can generally be described as follows: • • • • • • Economic Services and Values Oxygen production, carbon sequestration, climate moderation, water quality and quantity improvements, woodland products, economic activity associated with cultural values Cultural Values education, recreation, tourism, research, spiritual and aesthetic worth Ecological Values Diversity of species, structural heterogeneity, energy (photosynthesis), nutrient and energy cycling.

Woodlands in the Lake Simcoe Watershed Woodlands were identified within the Lake Simcoe watershed through the procedures described in Appendix 1 – Ecological Land Classification. Woodlands include all treed communities, whether upland or wetland. The ELC communities that were considered to represent woodlands are: FOD, FOM, FOC, SWD, SWM, SWC, CUP and CUW as shown in the table (Table 5.1) below. Woodlands of all qualities and types combined
91

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

comprise approximately 71,900 ha or 27.4%, of the total area of the watershed (excluding the lake itself). Of this area, approximately 9,700 ha (i.e., 13.5% of the available woodland cover) could be considered to be of questionable quality (i.e., they are plantations and cultural woodlands); excluding these two cover classes, the woodland cover within the watershed is approximately 23.8%.
Table 5.1 Woodland Cover by Type in the Watershed Class – Woodland Type Forest Cover ha 5,788 3,272 4,621 20,310 15,417 3,028 10,825 7,809 71,070 261,887 % 8.1 4.6 6.5 28.6 21.7 4.3 15.2 11.0 100 27.1

Cultural Plantation (CUP) Cultural Woodland (CUW)* Conifer Forest (FOC) Deciduous Forest (FOD) Mixed Forest (FOM) Conifer Swamp (SWC) Deciduous Swamp (SWD) Mixed Swamp (SWM) Total Approximate Area of Watershed (excl. lake)

*This category includes substantial hedgerows which are continuous with other natural features (ca. 608 ha).

As described in the ELC metadata (Appendix 1), hedgerows were included in the LSRCA ELC base map layer as Cultural Woodlands (CUW) where they were substantial and continuous with other natural heritage features, with an attached attribute note indicating that they were hedgerows. In addition to the amount of woodland cover within the watershed, there are two ways in which the distribution of that cover may be examined. The general spatial distribution of cover (for example by subwatershed, ecodistrict or other spatial characteristic) is most likely uneven. Another characteristic is the size of forest patches. Both of these spatial parameters will be discussed in the following sections. Spatial Distribution of Woodland Cover An analysis of woodland cover was undertaken by ecodistrict. An ecodistrict is an area defined by the MNR that has a distinct combination of landforms, soils, waters, plants and animals. Ecodistricts are therefore a useful mechanism to describe biodiversity, as the species associated within similar community patches would be expected to some extent to reflect the influence of the ecodistrict. If woodland cover types are well represented within each ecodistrict this can be expected to maximize biodiversity potential. Within the Lake Simcoe watershed there are four ecodistricts (Figure 5.1). Most of the watershed, and all of the lake itself, are contained within ecodistrict 6E-6. Only 13% of the watershed is within the Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) ecodistrict 6E-7, and a relatively tiny proportion is within ecodistrict 6E-9, in the extreme northeast area of the watershed.
92

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Table 5.2 provides the results of the analysis by ecodistrict. Not surprisingly, woodland cover is highest in the 6E-7 ORM ecodistrict. However, it is noteworthy that almost onethird of the woodland cover within that particular ecodistrict is either plantation or cultural woodland. Without these cultural communities, woodland cover within this 6E-7 would be 29.3%. Woodland cover is notably low (21%) in ecodistrict 6E-8, which accounts for approximately one-quarter of the entire watershed.

Figure 5.1 – Ecodistricts in the Lake Simcoe Watershed

93

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Table 5.2: Woodland Cover Analysis by Ecodistrict 6E-6 ha % Ecodistrict area (excl. Lake Simcoe) Cultural Plantation Cultural Woodland Conifer Forest Deciduous Forest Mixed Forest Conifer Swamp Deciduous Swamp Mixed Swamp Total Woodland Cover Ecodistrict Woodland Cover % 156,684 1,644 2,020 1,973 12,709 10,044 1,118 8,020 4,329
41,857 26.7

6E-7 ha % 33,603 3,511 715 920 4,824 2,434 411 344 837
13,996 41.7

6E-8 ha % 65,433 587 463 1,703 2,295 2,499 1,402 1,966 2,529
13,445 20.5

6E-9 ha % 6,166 46 74 25 481 440 97 495 113
1,771 28.7

59.8 3.9 4.8 4.7 30.4 24.0 2.7 19.2 10.3

12.8 25.1 5.1 6.6 34.5 17.4 2.9 2.5 6.0

25.0 4.4 3.4 12.7 17.1 18.6 10.4 14.6 18.8

2.4 2.6 4.2 1.4 27.2 24.8 5.5 27.9 6.4

To provide as complete a picture as possible of the spatial variation in woodland cover an analysis was undertaken by subwatershed. For greater clarity, some discrete but proximal subwatersheds were combined (e.g., “Barrie creeks”). Table 5.3 provides the results of this analysis. The data have been sorted in ascending order by watershed to show the lowest percent forest cover at the top of the table, and the greatest percent cover at the bottom. Subwatershed areas vary in area from less than 2,000 ha to more than 40,000 ha and these differences must be taken into account when examining these data.

94

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Table 5.3: Total Woodland Cover by Subwatershed Areas Area of Subwatersheds Maskinonge River Barrie Creeks Hewitt’s Creek Beaver River West Holland River East Holland River White’s Creek Innisfil Creeks Ramara Creeks Lover’s Creek Talbot River Georgina Creeks Uxbridge Brook Pefferlaw Brook Oro South Creeks Oro North Creeks Black River Hawkestone Creek Islands in Lake Simcoe combined 7,179 3,781 1,751 32,724 35,410 23,910 10,520 10,757 14,350 5,995 7,056 4,946 17,495 28,482 5,769 8,344 37,536 3,971
1,912

Woodland Cover by % of subwatershed 11.7 14.1 16.8 17.1 20.6 20.9 21.8 25.2 26.9 27.2 27.6 30.3 31.0 35.1 35.4 35.9 37.4 43.4
68.5

Woodland Patch Size Analysis A woodland patch is defined here as the total area of a contiguous patch of wooded habitat as mapped by the LSRCA ELC mapping project. This analysis does not incorporate other parameters of “quality” that by and large could only be established with detailed field work. A calculation of the area of “interior” habitat within each subwatershed was not undertaken as part of this analysis. The presence of interior conditions or habitat is highly variable according to factors such as the type of woodland, its position in the landscape and the organism of interest (“interior” distances are much different for plants versus birds, for example). The concept of “interior” breeding bird species is not robust and many species thought to be “interior” are actually either area-sensitive (requiring large areas of habitat in which to successfully breed) or require certain specialized habitat conditions (e.g., Brown Creeper [Certhia familiaris]). Indeed, some studies have even found higher densities of forest breeding birds in linear woodlands with limited “interior” habitat (Bollinger and Switzer, 2002) and few studies, if any, have looked at breeding success for various flora and fauna versus edge effects over several different community patches in temperate climates. For this analysis, GIS was used to calculate all contiguous woodland areas and to compute a graph of the distribution of woodland patch sizes within the watershed. This analysis does not in any way incorporate the benefits of adjacent or nearby natural areas, nor does it discount woodland patches that have exurban development envelopes within them. The results of this analysis are provided in Figure 5.2.
95

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Watershed 1800 1600 25000 1400 1200 1000 15000 800 600 400 5000 200 0
<= 10 00 > 10 00 <= 4 <= 15 <= 20 <= 25 <= 50 <= 10 <= 2 10 0 <= < <= 50 0 0. 5

30000

20000 Total Area (ha)

# of Patches

Total Area

10000

0

>0 .5

>2

>4

>2 5

>1 0

>1 5

>2 0

>5 0

>1 00

Patch Size (ha)

Figure 5.2: Woodland Patch Analysis - Whole Watershed

Figure 5.2 demonstrates that for the entire watershed, approximately 9,387 ha of woodland (or 13.1% of the total woodland) are accounted for in the first four columns (i.e., patches up to 10 ha). The (unlikely) total loss of this woodland cover (and without the “recruitment” of new patches) would reduce the percent of the watershed that is wooded from the current 27.4% to 23.9%. This analysis also indicates the importance of woodlands over 25 ha in terms of total forest cover, even as the number of patches declines sharply. Relatively few hectares (1,921) are encapsulated within the two smallest categories, even though they include over 2,000 patches. There is only one patch (approximately 1,100 ha) in the greater than 1,000 ha class. This is somewhat deceiving, however, as the definition of a break in contiguous cover was conservatively applied consistent with the ELC methodology employed (Appendix 1). Considering that the overall size of the watershed is around 260,000 ha, it is perhaps surprising that there are only ten woodland patches greater than 500 ha. One more patch would be added to this category if a large contiguous wooded area that extends outside the edge of the Lake Simcoe watershed is included. Given that many scientific authorities consider 500 ha wooded patches to be at the lower end of what is required for successful reproduction by many sensitive species, this analysis shows that the watershed is not in good shape from a patch size perspective. Three of these larger patches are located on the Oak Ridges Moraine. Woodland Issues Prior to European settlement the dominant land cover type of the Lake Simcoe watershed was woodlands of various forms. Estimates of total cover were in the 80% range, rather than the more commonly thought 90%, as Simcoe County was known as
96

>5 00

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

one of the most densely settled areas by aboriginal inhabitants (the Hurons) who may have farmed as much as 20,000 hectares (Heidenreich, 1971 as cited in Larson et al., 1999). Some authors have estimated that 70% of woodland cover south and east of the Canadian Shield has been lost since settlement (Riley and Mohr, 1994). Postsettlement forest loss is thought to have peaked around 1920 and in some areas there has been some recovery since then. In 1978, woodland cover in Simcoe County was estimated at 29% and in York Region at 18.5 % (Larson et al., 1999). The original woodlands throughout most of southern Ontario were converted to non-forest uses. For instance, upland woodlands found on prime agricultural soils have largely been transformed into agricultural lands, while woodlands once surrounding urban centres have been developed into subdivisions. Contribution to Watershed Cover Perhaps the most important factor affecting the integrity of the watershed from a woodland perspective is the total percentage of woodland cover. There is substantive evidence that the key cover number lies between 20 and 40%, and is probably closer to the higher end of this spread; the use of 30% as an ecological threshold is becoming widely adopted. Woodland cover within the Lake Simcoe watershed is below this threshold. The portions of the four ecodistricts represented within the watershed also fall below the 30% threshold when plantations and cultural woodlands are deducted. With plantations and cultural woodlands included only the Oak Ridges Moraine ecodistrict meet the threshold (note that woodland cover by entire ecodistrict was not considered, just the portion within the Lake Simcoe watershed). However, seven of the 18 Lake Simcoe subwatershed groups (plus the islands) did meet the 30% threshold. In terms of area, these subwatersheds represent approximately 41% of the land base of the watershed. Fragmentation Fragmentation describes the process that results from larger forest patches being separated into ever smaller patches or fragments. Fragmentation has many repercussions for forest habitat such as increased edge effects, such as increased predation and decreased species richness (Austen et al. 2001). As well, fragmentation leads to increased woodlot isolation, which in turn can reduce dispersal, immigration and recolonization (Burke and Nol, 2000; Trzcinski et al., 1999). Fragmentation can result in habitat blocks that are too small to support certain species of flora or fauna (e.g., those that are considered to be area-sensitive) or are too small to provide relatively undisturbed and high quality habitat conditions. Fragmentation can also result in the degradation of connectivity to a critical habitat type (e.g., an amphibian breeding pond). However, it can be very difficult to tease apart the relative importance of fragmentation from patch size, which is confounded by the fact that in real landscapes these two factors are often interrelated. One review of 134 fragmentation studies showed evidence that the ecological mechanisms and effects of habitat fragmentation are poorly understood (McGarigal and Cushman, 2002).
97

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Patch Size Many researchers agree that fragmentation can affect woodland composition in terms of species and vegetation composition, but many have also found that woodland patch size is a more significant component with a preference for large patch sizes (Trzcinski et al., 1999; Villard et al., 1999; Austen et al., 2001; Nol et al., 2005). Larger patches of woodlands tend to have a greater diversity of habitat niches and therefore they are more likely to support greater biodiversity. Very large patch sizes are also associated with total forest cover, as these conditions tend to occur simultaneously in real-world landscapes (Villard et al., 1999). It is now generally accepted that when it comes to woodland patch size, bigger really is better (Austen et al., 2001; Burke and Nol, 2000; Bayne and Hobson, 2002; Margules and Pressey, 2000; Miller and Hobbs, 2002; Trzcinski et al., 1999). Large woodlands are more likely to contain a greater diversity of plant and animal species and communities than smaller woodlands and are better buffered against the harmful edge effects of agricultural or urban activities than smaller areas (OMNR, 1999). In a landmark paper, Robbins et al. (1989) determined habitat area requirements for forest birds (based on presence/absence, not productivity) in the mid-Atlantic states and considered 100 hectares as an absolute minimum guideline for forest patch size. The probability of detecting some of the more sensitive woodland bird species in 100 ha woodland patches was as low as 20 to 30%. More recently, some researchers have raised the concept of the “Big Woods” (Mancke and Gavin, 2000; Environment Canada, 2004). Few, however, have tackled the idea of establishing minimum sizes for productive, high quality forest patches in southern Ontario. Burke and Nol (2000) recommend preservation of tracts that are least 500 ha in extent to guard against local population declines in some bird species (notably the Ovenbird). Environment Canada (2004) summarized the anticipated response of forest birds to patch size using data from one area of southern Ontario. It was concluded that 200 ha woodland patches will support 80% of sensitive species, 100 ha patches 60% while few were supported at the 50 ha patch level. Based on Illinois data, Herkert et al. (1993) suggest that a 400 ha woodland patch was required to support 75 to 80% of the highly sensitive woodland bird species. They predicted that a 100 ha patch should contain about 60% of the highly sensitive species. In Maryland, guidelines suggest that blocks of 3,000 ha of mature forest should be preserved (Maryland Partners in Flight, 1997). Mancke and Gavin (2000) stress the importance of the “Big Woods” (meaning >5,000 ha) for regional productivity of some forest birds. Clearly, woodland patch size can be important for many species of flora and fauna. The relative importance of patch size, patch characteristics and landscape cover varies and so too does the interaction of these for different species. Studies specific to the Lake Simcoe watershed would greatly assist in determining optimum woodland patch sizes for this area. Habitat Quality Habitat quality usually relates to a range of metrics such as: shape, interior (that which is more than 100 m from an edge), age, composition, structure and the presence of
98

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

invasive species. Today, most of the woodlands in southern Ontario are young (Larson et al., 1999), due to having been clear-cut, then abandoned and left to regenerate naturally. This has altered the composition of trees in Southern Ontario’s woodlands as well as the composition of species found within them. Species that use older-growth woodlands or characteristics of old trees (e.g., flying squirrels [Glaucomys volans] and Brown Creepers [Certhia americana]) are now less frequent in Southern Ontario (Larson et al., 1999). There is no doubt that habitat quality is an important metric, and it may be as important as patch size. Recognizing that all these different woodland metrics are interrelated to some extent, the literature suggests that neither patch size nor habitat quality are as important as overall woodland cover. Woodland Cover There is increasing scientific evidence that the total woodland cover of a landscape may be the most important influence on biodiversity. Obviously the loss of woodland cover results in a direct loss of habitat of that type. This reduction in habitat can result in proportionally smaller population sizes, and animals in habitat remnants may experience altered dispersal rates, decreased rates of survival, decreased productivity, altered foraging behaviours and decreased mating opportunities (Brooker and Brooker, 2002). Research that has examined the independent effects of habitat loss versus habitat fragmentation suggests that habitat loss has a greater effect than habitat fragmentation on the distribution and abundance of birds (Fahrig, 2002). Golet (2001) also found that bird relative abundance was not related to patch size and that the pattern of distribution of breeding birds was consistent with that of total forest cover. This is further supported by southern Ontario research that found that woodland area and edges effects did not significantly affect either nesting success or the productivity of neotropical songbirds (Friesen et al., 1998). There is now substantive evidence that total woodland cover is a critical metric (e.g., Austen et al., 2001; Golet, 2001; Fahrig, 2002; Lindenmayer et al., 2002; Trzcinski et al., 1999; Friesen et al., 1998, 1999; Rosenburg et al., 1999). Perhaps less clear are the thresholds for biodiversity. These thresholds, or general patterns, will be influenced by a wide variety of interacting metrics, such as the quality of woodland, and the type of matrix (meaning the in-between areas, such as agriculture, exurban or urban land uses). Presumably, where the dominant landscape is woodland, wildlife will respond primarily to local habitat effects rather than woodland cover metrics, as described by Lichstein et al. (2002). What is known with reasonable certainty is that as woodland cover decreases, species fail to occupy remaining patches and many of those that remain become rare, or fail to successfully attract mates or reproduce. Overall, the literature indicates that one primary woodland cover threshold is probably somewhere in the 30 to 40% percent cover range. Currently, there is a preponderance

99

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

of evidence supporting the use of 30% as a threshold. The use of this figure probably would not be described as precautionary. 5.2.2 Wetlands Wetlands can be defined as lands that are seasonally or permanently covered by shallow water or have the water table close to or at the surface and have hydric soils and vegetation dominated by hydrophytic or water-tolerant plants (MNR, 2002). Wetlands encompass a substantial number of ecological niches and provide habitat for a large percentage of the global biological diversity (Bergkamp and Orlando, 1999). For example, within the Lake Simcoe watershed, they provide critical habitat for many endangered and threatened flora and fauna, including the nationally and provincially endangered King Rail (Rallus elegans), nationally and provincially threatened Jefferson Salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) and the endangered Small White Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium candidum) (Bergkamp and Orlando, 1999; Oldham, 1999; 2003). Why Are Wetlands Important Wetlands provide several significant economic, social and environmental benefits essential for sustainable development. Wetland functions include carbon, nutrient and sediment retention, shoreline stabilization, flood attenuation, the regulation of water quantity and quality, the provision of habitats, as well as providing economic value/goods through fisheries, timber, clean water, peat, and tourism possibilities (Mitsch and Gosselink, 1986; Dugan, 1990). Since wetlands are found at the transition between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, they are highly dependent on water quality and quantity. Any hydrologic changes caused by climatic conditions or anthropogenic impacts will influence the form and function of the wetland, thus impacting on the plants and animal species that depend on them (Environment Canada, 2007). Many wetlands can both recharge and discharge groundwater, depending on the season and fluctuations in the water table. Nutrient flows within wetlands are also complex, and they too vary by season. Some functions ascribed to wetlands, such as sediment removal or pesticide dissipation, can be detrimental to other aspects of wetland ecology. For example, sedimentation is one of the leading causes of impairment to wetland function and it is also one of the three leading causes of outright wetland loss. Clearly, these wetland hydrologic and water quality functions are complex and dependant on a wide range of variables, both spatial and temporal. It is certain however, that wetlands contribute towards the sustenance of freshwater resources, which are used by humans and wildlife alike. Many of Ontario’s fish, fauna and flora species also use wetlands during all or part of their lifecycles. A high proportion of the designated “Species At Risk” are wetlandassociated species. This is not surprising given that wetland loss within the Great Lakes Basin is estimated at 68% south of the pre-Cambrian shield (Snell, 1987 as cited in
100

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Detenbeck et al., 1999). Marshes are often critical fish nursery and spawning areas. They also provide habitat for a wide range of other obligate aquatic species that have relatively narrow habitat niches (i.e., they need permanent water). This includes a wide variety of insects, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Extensive marshes are now relatively rare and only 10% of southern Ontario wetlands have been estimated to represent marsh (Riley, 1989). Fens and bogs are rare and represent habitat for relatively specialized species. Consequently, a variety of plants can be found in these communities that are rare at various levels (i.e., locally, regionally, provincially and nationally). They also provide specialized habitat for other species (e.g., non-vascular plants and insects). Wetlands in the Lake Simcoe Watershed Within the Lake Simcoe watershed there are only a very small 25 ha of bog (and some of this may actually be poor fen). This is one of the rarest habitats of any type in the watershed. There are more fens, but even this wetland type represents only 1.3% (about 448 ha) of all the wetlands identified within the watershed. Both of these are exceedingly rare and together comprise less than 0.2% of the total land cover. Swamps support a wide variety of habitat niches due to the structural diversity that they present. This structural diversity includes: tall canopies, tree cavities, dense shrub layers, dense winter cover (from conifers), pits and mounds on the forest floor and seasonal pools. In turn, these features can provide habitat for a wide range of attributes such as area sensitive forest breeding birds, winter deer yards, amphibian breeding pools and even seasonal fish spawning when swamps are flooded An estimated two-thirds of the wetlands in southern Ontario have been lost or severely degraded with much of the remainder being threatened (Bergkamp and Orlando, 1999). According to a recent publication, How Much Habitat is Enough? by Environment Canada (2004), it was found that watersheds which contained less than 10% wetlands were at greater risk of increased incremental wetland loss, poor flood control and larger suspended solid loadings. A guideline was proposed which suggested that major watersheds within the Great Lakes region, like the Lake Simcoe watershed, should have wetland coverage of at least 10%, with each subwatershed having wetland coverage of at least of 6% (Environment Canada, 2004). As of 2002, the Lake Simcoe watershed comprised 14% wetland habitat, with the subwatersheds ranging from 2 to 24%.

101

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Table 5.4: Distribution of Wetlands in the Lake Simcoe Watershed Area of Subwatershed(ha) Total Wetland Area by Subwatershed (ha) 109 70 451 533 2,935 2,124 805 599 1,145 647 1,950 627 4,133 5,378 1,926 7,392 862 3,200 663 35,596 Total Wetlands by Subwatershed (% of sub’shed) 2.9 4.0 6.3 7.6 8.3 8.9 9.7 10.4 10.6 10.8 11.1 12.7 14.5 16.4 18.3 19.7 21.7 22.3 34.7 13.6% Unevaluated Wetland Area by Subwatershed (ha) 82 25 36 490 647 410 216 390 597 88 620 84 1,390 1,393 1,045 2,097 191 775 182 10,747 Unevaluated Wetlands by Subwatershed (% of sub’shed) 2.2 1.4 0.5 7.0 1.8 1.7 2.6 6.8 5.6 1.5 3.5 1.7 4.9 4.3 1.0 5.6 4.8 5.4 9.5 4.1%

Barrie creeks Hewitt’s Creek Maskinonge River Talbot River West Holland River East Holland River Oro creeks (north) Oro creeks (south) Innisfil creeks Lover’s Creek Uxbridge Brook Georgina creeks Pefferlaw Brook Beaver River White’s Creek Black River Hawkestone Creek Ramara creeks Islands in Lake Simcoe combined Totals

3,781 1,751 7,179 7,056 35,410 23,910 8,344 5,769 10,757 5,995 17,495 4,946 28,482 32,724 10,520 37,536 3,971 14,350 1,912 261,887

Wetland Issues Despite their value, wetlands continue to be lost and degraded; this is driven by many factors including land use change, shoreline hardening, urban and rural runoff, and the spread of invasive and/or exotic species. In the Lake Simcoe watershed, two of the main causes of wetland loss are land use change and alteration activities. Land Use Change The conversion of natural heritage features such as wetlands into urban or agricultural operations has been occurring since the area was first settled. Tableland forests were the first to be cleared for farming, while wetlands were second choice, requiring more effort as the hydrology had to be altered to facilitate farming. However, with increasing land values and changing financial realities, wetlands are no longer as difficult to farm or

102

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

develop as they once were. Further, as available tableland has already been developed or farmed, wetlands often remain as the only undeveloped or unfarmed areas. In response to the continued loss of wetlands in southern Ontario and in the face of ongoing urban expansion, the Province created the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System in the late 1980’s to identify wetlands that are of provincial significance. Through the Provincial Policy Statement, the Province protects provincially significant wetlands from development under the Planning Act. Recent changes to the Conservation Authorities Act now means that all wetlands (greater than half a hectare) are regulated and any activity in or near wetlands requires a permit from the Conservation Authority. Wetlands that are either not evaluated or are not of provincial significance are vulnerable to development as they are subject only to the policies of municipal Official Plans, which often do not protect wetlands beyond those that are of provincial significance. The continued encroachment into wetlands by exurban development serves to increase habitat fragmentation and wetland loss. This type of encroachment has resulted in a loss of over 350 ha of wetland in the watershed. While this may not seem to be a vast amount of area, the impact of this loss extends beyond the actual loss of wetland, into the surrounding wetland where the impacts of residential development reach (such as alteration to hydrology, light, noise, and increased predation from squirrels, raccoons, cats and dogs). The fragmentation of large wetlands into smaller wetlands further reduces the amount of suitable habitat for area-sensitive species. Peat/Organic Extraction The second main cause of wetland loss in the Lake Simcoe watershed is from the extraction of peat or organic material. Peat is the accumulation of physically and chemically transformed organic matter in varying stages of decomposition formed in cold and waterlogged environments (Bozkurt et al., 2001; Holden et al., 2004; Gleeson, et al., 2006). While peat extraction refers to the removal of this particular substrate, in Ontario it also includes the removal of ‘organic’ material. The Province of Ontario contains approximately 30% of the peatland area in Canada (Gleeson, et al., 2006), although within the Lake Simcoe watershed, bogs and fens (true ‘peat’ based wetlands) are very rare and cover approximately 483 ha or a mere 0.2% of the watershed. All known fens and bogs within the Lake Simcoe watershed are within provincially significant wetlands (PSWs). However, there are hundreds of hectares of organic-based wetlands, which is equally as sought after for extraction purposes (Beacon and LSRCA, 2007, OMNR Wetland Mapping). The extraction of the peat/organic substrate requires the removal of the vegetation which then results in large, deep holes (i.e., 4 m) in which very little vegetation grows. In addition to the loss and destruction of the vegetation communities, these large ponds have a negative impact on the water quality as it is warmed and can be vulnerable to algae blooms and can lead to changes in the local hydrology. The harvesting of peat/organics ultimately changes the water quality and hydrogeology of the watershed

103

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

by impairing the hydrological conditions (Gleeson et al., 2006). Peat is also a nonrenewable resource and such the extraction is not a sustainable activity. There are at least thirteen known peat extraction operations within the watershed covering an approximate total area of 76ha.Ten of the known peat extraction operations are currently within evaluated provincially significant wetlands (26ha) or are adjacent to evaluated wetlands (32ha). The Provincially Significant Wilfred Bog for example, is 47 ha in size, of which, nearly 10 ha has been harvested, as of the 2005 orthophotos. Peat/organic extraction is an activity that is now regulated by the Conservation Authority under O.Reg 179/06, requiring that a permit be obtained. Some municipalities within the watershed also have their own peat extraction by-laws. Previous to the Authority’s regulation being approved and authorized by the Minister of Natural Resources, peat extraction was an allowable activity within all wetlands whether provincially significant or not. The Authority’s regulation is very clear that no interference to a wetland is permitted which includes peat extraction. While large peat/organic extraction operations provide employment and revenue, they cause damage and destruction of wetlands. This results in wetland fragmentation, loss of vegetation cover and biodiversity, changes to the local hydrological regime, impairment of water quality and of sensitive habitats that have established over centuries. 5.2.3 Wildlife Habitat The Povincial Policy Statement 2005 (PPS) (MMAH, 2005) defines Wildlife Habitat as: “areas where plants, animals and other organisms live and find adequate amounts of food, water, shelter and space needed to sustain their population.Specific wildlife habitats of concern may include areas where species concentrate at a vulnerable point in their annual life cycle; and areas which are important to migratory or non-migratory species.” Why is Wildlife Habitat Important? The provision of habitat is one of the main functions of natural heritage features (OMNR, 1999). There are five principal types of wildlife habitat suggested. These are: • Seasonal concentrations of animals; • Rare vegetation communities; • Specialized habitats for wildlife; • Habitats of species of conservation concern; and • Wildlife movement corridors. Seasonal concentrations of animals Areas of seasonal concentrations of animals provide important cover and protection from inclement weather conditions and predators (OMNR, 2000). They may also be
104

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

areas where there is an abundance of resources, such as food or breeding sites. These habitats directly influence the persistence of species. Some examples include: winter deer yards, waterfowl stopover and staging areas, and reptile hibernacula. Rare vegetation communities Rare vegetation communities often provide habitat for rare species that in turn depend on these habitats for survival (OMNR, 2000). If rare vegetation communities are lost the number of rare species will increase and therefore further reduce biodiversity. Some examples of rare vegetation communities in southern Ontario are tallgrass prairies, fens, bogs, and alvars. Specialized habitats for wildlife Specialized habitats for wildlife are considered to be those that serve specialized species. Some species have particular requirements in order to ensure their survival. This is a rather poorly defined category, but could, for example, include seepage areas that support certain flora and fauna. These specialized habitats are often of seasonal use. Habitats of species of conservation concern This category includes species that may be locally rare or in decline, but that have not reached the level of rarity that is normally associated with Endangered or Threatened designations. It is suggested that the highest priority for protection be provided to habitats of the rarest species (on a scale of global through to local municipality). Wildlife movement corridors Movement corridors allow animals to travel across the landscape with cover that protects them from predators and provide shelter from harsh weather conditions (OMNR, 2000). Wildlife Habitat in the Lake Simcoe Watershed In the Lake Simcoe watershed wildlife, knowledge of wildlife habitat is restricted to four subcomponents. These are: • • • • Winter Deer Yards; Colonial Waterbird Nesting Sites; Rare Ecological Land Classification (ELC) communities (e.g., tallgrass prairies, alvars, fens, and bogs); and Grassland Communities.

For all other suggested features (e.g., bat hibernacula) extensive and intensive fieldwork would be required over a large watershed (~250,000 ha), that would likely take many years to complete.
105

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Winter Deer Yards Deer yard mapping is typically undertaken by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). Because White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) do not move well in deep snow, they sometimes remain in sheltered areas during the winter, or as snow begins to accumulate. Yards typically consist of a core area of coniferous forest (over 60% canopy cover), surrounded by mixed or deciduous forest. Yards can persist over many years and the use of specific yards is likely learnt by successive generations of deer. The understory of the deer yard areas usually consists of small trees, especially eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis), which serve as winter food. If snowfall is heavy, the deer stay within the core of the yard. Deer tend to use the same yards year after year and are not highly adaptable in moving to a new yard. These yards can be critical to the survival of White-tailed Deer in some parts of the Province (OMNR, 2000). Colonial Waterbird Nesting Sites Colonially-nesting waterbirds concentrate in relatively small areas for nesting purposes. These species include cormorants, herons, terns and gulls. Individual colonies may support the entire breeding population for a given species across a relatively large area. Because colonial waterbirds typically nest in relatively confined areas, they can be particularly susceptible to disturbance, disease or habitat destruction. Rare Vegetation Communities Based on the ELC mapping program, rare vegetation communities identified within the Lake Simcoe watershed include: alvars, tallgrass prairies, fens and bogs. Alvars are provincially rare to uncommon communities (as ranked by the NHIC) that are characterized by naturally open areas of thin soil over essentially flat limestone or marble rock with trees absent or at least not forming a continuous canopy (LSEMS, 2003). Approximately 27 ha of alvars occur in the Lake Simcoe watershed, on the Carden Plain in the northeast portion. Tallgrass prairies are open (or semi-open) plains covered in tall grass, with little to no tree cover. They are characterized by droughty soil conditions and ground fires. These ecosystems support a high concentration of rare plants and associated insects. Fifteen percent of the watershed’s rare plant species are found here. Tallgrass prairies once covered sandy areas in the southwest portion of Lake Simcoe at Holland Landing, DeGrassi Point and Fox Island. It is not surprising that these areas have experienced a long history of occupation by First Nations. It is probable that the First Nations encouraged the ground fires that are essential for the maintenance of the prairies. These prairies have become significantly diminished in size due to natural woody succession, which was once kept in check by the fires (LSEMS, 2003). Fens are primarily characterized by specific kinds of plants that are only found in these habitats. In the Lake Simcoe watershed, almost all known fens are peat-based and comprise a total of approximately 450 ha.

106

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Bogs are unusual in that all of their nutrients are delivered by rainfall (a condition referred to as “ombrotrophic”); consequently they are nutrient poor and the pH is often very acidic (e.g., 3.9 – 4.2), further reducing the availability of nutrients to plants. Only 25 ha of this rare wetland type have been identified within the Lake Simcoe watershed. Grassland Communities Grasslands are communities that are dominated by grasses and have none to few trees and may include more specific vegetation communities such as alvars and prairies. In the Lake Simcoe watershed, grasslands have been identified and defined using the Ecological Land Classification community of ‘cultural meadow’, as well as ‘alvar’ and ‘prairie’. Cultural meadows can include fallow agricultural lands, or true grasslands, found where areas of shallow soils are unable to support trees and shrubs, leaving grasses to grow without threat of succession. It is recognized that fallow agricultural lands rotate in and out of active use. As such, fallow agricultural ‘grasslands’ are considered to augment the system and are not intended to be part of the ‘system’. Grasslands provide habitat for a range of flora and fauna habitat-specialists. Plants found only in grasslands are generally shade-intolerant and occupy a relatively narrow habitat niche. A correspondingly specific range of butterflies, moths, dragonflies and damselflies that rely on these plants are also found in this ecosystem. Being one of the most easily and extensively surveyed and monitored groups, birds are often the most discussed ecosystem component in relation to grasslands. Studying trends in bird populations can also provide insight into the ecosystem services provided to birds by grasslands in the form of foraging and breeding habitat. The loss of grasslands has been documented most acutely by a decline in grassland bird populations, primarily through the work of the North American Breeding Bird Survey, which has been compiling records since 1966. Unabated declines in this group of species have been observed in North America as well as throughout Western Europe (Fuller et al., 1995; Peterjohn, 2003). Of the 37 species of grassland birds that are monitored by the Breeding Bird Survey, 32 demonstrate some degree of decline (McCraken, 2005). In Ontario, of the 14 endangered breeding bird species, five use grasslands at some point in their life cycle (Beacon Environmental and LSRCA, 2007). Within the Lake Simcoe watershed, species such as Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus), Clay-coloured Sparrow (Spizella pallida), Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum), Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus) and Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) are among the declining grassland species (from McCraken, 2005); while the Henslow’s Sparrow (Ammodramus henslowii) is now endangered. Correlated with the loss of grasslands is a loss of native flora and insects associated with grasslands. As such, quality grasslands and prairies have become an oasis of rare flora, harbouring species such as the provincially rare Prairie Buttercup (Ranunculus rhomboideus), Houghton’s Cyperus (Cyperus houghtonii Torr.) and Hairy Panic Grass (Panicum villosissimum Nash), and watershed rare species such as Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata), Saskatoon Berry (Amelanchier alnifolia), Frostweed (Helianthumum bicknell, H. canadense) and Butterfly-weed (Asclepias tuberosa). With
107

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

the rare flora are rare insect associates, including butterflies, moths and dragonflies, such as the provincially rare, Olympia Marble (Euchloe olympia) and the now extirpated Karner blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) butterfly. Wildlife Habitat Issues Decline of Grassland Species The decline in grassland species, particularly birds, has been researched extensively over the past decade. The primary cause for the decline in grassland species is the change in habitat quality and quantity. Associated with this are several other aspects: productivity and survivorship of ground nesting species, changes in food supply, and the impact of toxins (McCraken, 2005). The cause for the change in habitat quality and quantity in the Lake Simcoe watershed can be examined from the two main pressures: agricultural and urban. Agricultural Pressures Some researchers consider the major cause for declines in the habitat quality and quantity of grasslands to be the expansion and intensification of agriculture (McCraken, 2005), as farms move towards higher yields and larger operations. However, this position may not distinguish clearly between true grassland habitats, and grassland agriculture and normal agricultural lands – where there is no active – or minimal – management. Here, the forces of old field succession – could create these ‘cultural meadows’ – with varying degrees of disturbance. These are usually found on marginal farmlands or in areas where land use has changed due to changes to non-farm ownership. It is recognized that agricultural fields are at times suitable for grassland species. Although agricultural lands are not intended to be part of grassland habitat specifically, they may provide habitat at different points in their rotation, and include the following agricultural grassland forms: • Hay crop – grass, legumes or grass-legume mix as part of a broader, longterm rotation (6-8 years) that includes cereals and row crops • Improved pasture – intensively grazed and improved pastures with attention to fertility and overseeding practices – including rotational grazing. These systems are adopted mostly by dairy operations. Improved pasture can be part of a pasture-hay rotation and in some cases a cereal-hay-pasture system • Unimproved pasture – extensive grazing, minimal improvement or vegetation management; often on marginal agricultural lands (too wet, too shallow, too bedrock, etc) Given that grassland agriculture does contribute to the grassland ecosystem, efforts should be made through stewardship activities to optimize the utility of these lands when possible.

108

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Over one half of grassland species are area-sensitive, meaning that they generally require large expanses of grassland (i.e., greater than 10 ha), although the optimal size can vary regionally and by species. Grassland size is modified by its landscape attributes such as the number, size and interspersion of habitat patches (McCraken, 2005) and the proximity of these patches. In Lake Simcoe, the largest single patch of grassland is approximately 67 ha, and is found in King Township on the Oak Ridges Moraine. The largest conglomeration of grassland habitat (i.e., meadow plus thicket plus hay/pasture) is 511 ha and is located in the Talbot River watershed in the far northeastern corner of the watershed. This is critical grassland in the Lake Simcoe watershed because of its size, but also because it is in an agricultural landscape that is dominated by hay and pasturelands. Many species rely on hayfields and it has been found that the age of hayfields plays an important role in their suitability with older fields generally having higher function (Bollinger and Gavin, 1992). For grasslands that exist as part of an agricultural rotation (i.e., are not ‘true-grasslands’), natural succession is a constant threat as it naturally moves towards a wooded ecosystem. It must also be noted that in many cases agricultural lands may be incorrectly considered to be grasslands, and may change in some part of their agricultural rotation in the future. This function is enhanced by the suppression of fire, particularly in southern Ontario. However, in areas where grasslands are maintained through grazing it has been found that there is a negative correlation between intensive cattle grazing and several species of grassland birds such as Short-eared Owl, Savannah Sparrow, and Henslow’s Sparrow (Bock et. al., 1993). This is a factor in the northeastern portion of the watershed, where there are extensive tracts of pasture, although the intensity of grazing tends to range throughout the area. Urban Pressures Grasslands in southern Ontario are also at risk from continued expansion of urban areas. While the Province has recognized the importance of maintaining agricultural lands in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) by implementing the Greenbelt Act, this applies only to approximately 66% of the Lake Simcoe watershed (York and Durham Regions). Where development is occurring, more emphasis is now being placed on planning urban growth such that natural heritage features can be maintained within the new urban matrix. However, while some municipal official plans and policies direct development away from woodlands and wetlands, development is thereby directed into meadows, fallow fields and agricultural lands. The development community sees grasslands as ‘available’ lands, free of the encumbrances associated with proposing development within woodlands and wetlands. Grasslands are essentially targeted for development within urban expansion areas. Outside of urban growth areas, another key factor in the decline of grasslands in the watershed is the fragmentation of large grasslands by exurban development. Those choosing to build a home on an existing lot of record are in some areas directed out of woodlands and wetlands and into agricultural lands or grasslands. While the footprint of
109

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

a single-family dwelling is relatively small (compared to that of a subdivision), the cumulative impact of fragmentation of grasslands reduces the amount of large contiguous undisturbed areas which are the most productive areas, similar to that of the impact on woodlands. Where grasslands are within or adjacent to urban areas the quality of habitat is decreased for several reasons associated with its location in an urban matrix. Ground nesting species are easy prey for the increased number of squirrels, raccoons, coyotes and domestic cats and dogs associated with residential development. The food supply and quality for grassland species is usually lower as a result of smaller grassland patches which are less able to maintain the full suite of ecosystem components on which grassland birds feed (e.g., insects and plants). While urban grasslands are less likely to be subject to the toxic effects of pesticide applications, these areas are bombarded with other impacts associated with urban development, such as light, sound, dust and general disturbance. 5.2.4 Endangered and Threatened Species Habitat Endangered Species are defined under the Provincial Policy Statement as a species that is listed or categorized as an “Endangered Species” on the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’ official species at risk list, as updated and amended from time to time. A Threatened Species is defined as a species that is listed or categorized as a “Threatened Species” on the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’ official species at risk list, as updated and amended from time to time. Why is Endangered and Threatened Species Habitat Important? There is general consensus amongst ecologists that special efforts should be made to protect species that are at a risk of becoming extirpated from a region or province. This is related to objectives of maintaining or enhancing biodiversity at regional, provincial and national levels .In the Natural Heritage Reference Manual (OMNR, 1999), MNR notes that the protection of endangered and threatened species is necessary in order to slow or prevent the loss of species from the province, and in some cases, their extinction on a global basis. Endangered and Threatened Species Habitat in the Lake Simcoe Watershed Within the Lake Simcoe watershed, the only reliable and easily accessible source for information on these species is the MNR’s Natural Heritage Information Centre on-line database as well as the local MNR District offices. Historical records that were 20 years or older were not used. This is consistent with the typical approach taken by MNR when using element occurrences that incorporate older records. In total, 15 “current” element occurrences of E&T species were provided for the watershed. These are indicated in Table 5.5.

110

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Table 5.5 NHIC Endangered and Threatened Element Occurrences for the Lake Simcoe Watershed Common Name Eastern Prairie Fringed-orchid Purple Twayblade King Rail Loggerhead Shrike Loggerhead Shrike Least Bittern Least Bittern Least Bittern Least Bittern Least Bittern Redside Dace Redside Dace Redside Dace Blanding's Turtle L. Simcoe Whitefish Scientific Name Platanthera leucophaea Liparis lilifolia Rallus elegans Lanius ludovicianus Lanius ludovicianus Ixobrychus exilis Ixobrychus exilis Ixobrychus exilis Ixobrychus exilis Ixobrychus exilis Clinostomus elongatus Clinostomus elongatus Clinostomus elongatus Emydoideas blandingii Coregonus clupeaformis Prov. S-Rank S2 S2 S2B,SZN S2B,SZN S2B,SZN S3B,SZN S3B,SZN S3B,SZN S3B,SZN S3B,SZN S3 S3 S3 S3? S? MNR Status END-NR END-NR END-R END-R END-R THR THR THR THR THR THR THR THR THR THR Subwatershed West Holland West Holland West Holland East Holland Talbot River West Holland Beaver River West Holland Beaver River East Holland West Holland East Holland West Holland Black River Lake Simcoe

Endangered and Threatened Species Habitat Issues Large areas within the Lake Simcoe watershed have not had extensive, intensive or even any recent field investigations. Therefore, it is common for the known occurrences of E&T species to be from evaluated wetlands, designated ANSIs, or areas where development applications have resulted in detailed field investigations or data collection efforts from local naturalists. This lack of data in general and bias towards “investigated areas” doubtless reflects, at least to some extent, the real distribution of these species, but it may also underestimate the importance of other habitat patches within the watershed that have been lightly surveyed or not surveyed at all. 5.2.5 Valleylands A valleyland is a natural depression in the landscape that is often, but not always, associated with a river or stream. Valleylands act as the framework of a watershed and the landscape of the Lake Simcoe watershed is a mosaic of valleylands and tablelands. Valleylands vary in size from tiny headwater features (which create much debate about the definition of a “valley”) to wide valleys containing substantial rivers and expansive wetlands that everyone would recognize as a valleyland. Why are Valleylands Important? The Natural Heritage Reference Manual (OMNR, 1999) refers to valleylands as the backbone of a watershed because of the many important ecological functions they perform, such as:
111

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

• • • • • • • •

channeling water and wildlife; providing a connection between natural heritage features; providing important migration corridors; providing microclimates; transporting sediment and nutrients; acting as natural drainage areas; maintaining water levels by acting as floodplains and seepage areas; and maintaining water quality through riparian vegetation communities.

Valleylands are also often associated with cultural significance. Whether they were the location of aboriginal travel routes or settlements, or post-settlement development patterns, they often strongly influence human settlement patterns. Valleylands are generally not developed because of the inherent hazards associated with them. Natural hazards such as flooding or bank instability and erosion are common in valleys. This has left many highly urbanized or agricultural areas with valleylands as the only remaining natural areas. The fact that valleylands are often relatively undisturbed areas existing in relatively developed areas also renders them as an important feature in the overall natural heritage system. Valleylands in the Lake Simcoe Watershed Despite the importance of valleylands to the mandate of Conservation Authorities they have generally not been specifically addressed (except perhaps indirectly as part of connectivity, pathways) when it comes to the development of natural heritage systems. In part, this is related to the complexity of identifying the limits of valleylands at a landscape scale. However, the advent of GIS tools has made it possible to use digital elevation models and other analytical approaches to identify valleylands at a regional scale using chosen design inputs (e.g., depth, length, height and slope). A precursor of determining valleylands has been the recent update of the Conservation Authority regulations. 5.2.6 Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest A wide variety of natural landscapes rich in natural heritage features are found in southern Ontario. To encourage the protection of these features and landscapes, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has led the provincial Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) program. The ANSI program began in 1983 with regulation through the Ontario Heritage Act to meet the objective of ultimately achieving Provincial Park protection status for these biologically or geologically significant areas (OMNR 1988). The evolution of this provincial program led to the protection of ANSIs under the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) as natural heritage features. There are two types of ANSIs: life science and earth science. Life science ANSIs are based on biological and ecological characteristics. Earth science ANSIs are based on geological landform characteristics.
112

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

The selection criteria used by the MNR to define ANSIs are: 1. 2. 3. 4. Representativeness; Habitat diversity; Ecological integrity; and Special features.

ANSIs can be designated within one of three levels of significance. These are: local, regional and provincial. These three levels are not based on jurisdictional boundaries but are based on ecological regions. Provincial significance relates to the whole province, regional significance is assigned at the ecoregional level, and local significance is assigned at the ecodistrict level. Only provincially significant ANSIs are specifically addressed by the PPS and they are identified by the MNR using procedures established by the Province. Presently, there are more than 500 provincially significant ANSIs in Ontario (OMNR, 1999). Why Are ANSIs Important ANSIs are important because they are chosen to represent the full range of biological (life science) and geological (earth science) resources of a particular area. This means that a provincially significant life science ANSI is one of the best representations of the range of biological resources associated with that particular kind of feature within the province of Ontario. Protecting the range of biological resources of an area will help maintain a high diversity of habitat types, which in turn will aid the maintenance of high biodiversity. ANSIs in the Lake Simcoe Watershed The Lake Simcoe watershed has seven provincially significant life science ANSIs, comprising a total of just over 3,000 ha (Table 5.6). This represents approximately 0.9% of the watershed (including the lake), and 1.16 % of the land base of the watershed (excluding the lake).

113

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Table 5.6 Provincially Significant Life Science ANSIs in the Lake Simcoe Watershed ANSI Allandale Lake Algonquin Bluffs DeGrassi Point Prairie Relict Area Primary Features (ha) 3.7 Oak-maple and hemlock-beech forest, 70 m above old Algonquin lake plain, best bluff complex in Site District 6-8 31 Relict prairie-parkland complex on a sandy, till slope reworked by Lake Algonquin. This oak-pine savanna has some 27 species with prairie affinities (i.e., Sorgastrum nutans, Andropogon scoparius, Desmodium canadense) 237 Situated on the Peterborough Drumlin field, this bog is the largest, most diverse and least disturbed in Ecodistrict 6-8, and may be one of the only in the watershed that meets the strictest definition of a true bog 388 Illustrates a variety of different community types associated with wetland habitat. Contains a lakefront, sandbar and associated backshore marsh complex, unique to Lake Simcoe 32 The prairie at Holland Landing is dominated by two prairie grasses, the Big and Little Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii and A. scoparius). This is the largest and most extensive prairie remnant in the Simcoe Lowlands physiographic region 1,309 Extensive area and a historical remnant of one of the largest marshes in southern Ontario. Two regionally significant features: 1) breeding and migratory waterfowl habitat and 2) contains a shrub fen, an uncommon vegetation type 106 Rugby West offers the best example of relatively undisturbed kame hills with upland semi-mature woods in Ecodistrict 6-6 2,106.7

Derryville Bog

Duclos Point Park Reserve & Adjacent Lands Holland Landing Prairie

Holland Marsh

Rugby West

Total area

Source: OMNR (2005).

There are seven regionally significant life science ANSIs in the Lake Simcoe watershed (Table 5.7). These regional ANSIs occupy a total area of 6,870 ha. Excluding the lake, this represents 2.62% of the watershed.

114

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Table 5.7 Regionally Significant Life Science ANSIs in the Lake Simcoe Watershed ANSI Beaverton River Swamp Martin Farm South Area Primary Features (ha) 1,712 River-swamp complex along Beaverton River valley with various swamp communities 120 Gentle to moderate rolling kame hills with immature to semi-mature sugar maple-ash-beech with sugar maple forest 281 Shoreline swamp on north shore of Lake Simcoe in Barnstable Bay with two creek outlets. 1,177 River swamp and lake complex along a portion of the Pefferlaw Brook and Mud Lake 214 This section of the swamp lies on glaciolacustrine deposits overlain by organics 49 Mature, rich kettle-hole sphagnum-dominated community. Now mostly extracted for peat. 3,317 River swamp complex 6,870

McGinnis Point Pefferlaw Brook Swamp Pottageville Swamp North Wilfred Bog Zephyr Creek Swamp Total area Source: OMNR (2005).

5.3

Emerging Natural Heritage Issues

Conservation Planning Landscapes across the world are a matrix of agricultural, rural, urban and natural areas. The practice of conservation planning has generally not been systematic and protected lands have often been located in places that do not contribute to the representation of biodiversity (Margules and Pressey, 2000). Systematic conservation planning was first introduced in Ontario during the early 1990s as Natural Heritage Systems. This core and natural corridor approach, as defined by Riley and Mohr (1994), played a role in the development of the Provincial Policy Statement 1995 and began to connect conservation science to implementation policy. The concept of a Natural Heritage System is two-fold. First it aims to identify, by using sound scientific concepts, the important natural features of a landscape in order to preserve biodiversity. Second the system attempts to respect these scientific principles with the use of direct policy tools, such as directed development and land use policies to implement the protection of important natural features through municipal official plans. Natural Heritage Systems contribute as part of an integrative land use planning approach to conservation biology. The preservation of biodiversity has become an international objective with respect to conservation (Redford and Richter, 1999) through initiatives such as the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ontario Biodiversity Strategy (2005). The term biodiversity has become somewhat ambiguous due to its use across a wide range

115

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

of disciplines such as ecology, policy development, and planning. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR, 1999) defines “biodiversity”, as: “the variability among organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.” Not all natural heritage features are protected on the basis of their ecological function. Some features are preserved on the basis of social values. For example, small woodlots in urban areas are often valued for providing improved air quality, buffering extreme temperatures and noise, providing an aesthetic value as well as their contribution to the physical and psychological wellbeing of residents (FON, 2006). It can be beneficial in many respects to integrate social criteria into a Natural Heritage System. Preserving natural features in urban centres can maintain a healthy link between the heritage of indigenous knowledge and biodiversity-based tradition that still exists amongst many rural migrants who may now live in urban centres (Pierce et al., 2005). Economic, social, and ecological systems all have interconnecting parts (Polasky, 2006). Associating an economic value to ecological function is a more recent approach to protecting natural features. Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) has been a leader in promoting the concept of Ecological Goods and Services (EG&S). Ecological Goods and Services are the benefits that society derives from healthy ecosystems such as the purification of air and water, groundwater recharge, wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration (Ducks Unlimited Canada, 2006). It is likely that in sometime in the not too far distant future it will be possible to establish a dollar value on the Natural Heritage System of the Lake Simcoe watershed NHS that will help to demonstrate the importance of these ecosystems to the public. Invasive Species Invasive non-native species are a threat to biodiversity. While each species plays a specific role within their native ecosystems, once out of that setting and into a new ecosystems, these species can grow into enormous populations, if unchecked by the evolved predatory/prey relationships of their native systems. Invasive species can dominate a habitat niche, preventing other species from surviving, thereby reducing biodiversity. Invasive species can take any form, from plants and insects to fish and molluscs. In the Lake Simcoe watershed, invasive species are a problem within terrestrial, wetland and aquatic ecosystems. The presence of invasive species can be an indicator of disturbance in an ecosystem as there are generally very few if any non-native species present in
116

A field of dog strangling vine with fruiting structures (photo credit: Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources)

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

less disturbed features. Invasive species are usually highly effective at transporting themselves. Plant dispersal for example, can include such tactics as hitching a ride with an unsuspecting dog or person, through wind dispersal or a tenacious root system. Therefore, woodlands and wetlands that have been visited by very few people often have few to no invasive species and therefore, higher biodiversity. The following are a few notable species within the Lake Simcoe watershed: A threatening upland species that has shown rapid increase recently is dog-strangling vine (Vincetoxicum rossicum). Its strong vine-like structure creates a thicket blanket on the ground and can grow over small shrubs and trees leading to their death. This species is highly effective at crowding out other species; it is difficult even to walk through and blocks light from penetrating the ground. Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) is a highly invasive perennial that has escaped from gardens. This species will inhabit any type of habitat from roadsides, building sites and abandoned lands to meadows and woodland edges. It grows very aggressively, out-competing other species. It spreads rapidly by way of its thick and vigorous underground rhizomes, making it difficult to remove.

Japanese Knotweed (photo credit: Kentucky Division of Forestry)

Scots Pine (photo credit: US Fish & Wildlife Service)

A long-time invader of the southern Ontario landscape, Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) continues to cause problems. This species is of particular concern on the Oak Ridges Moraine as it thrives on the sandy soils and spreads quickly and successfully across meadows. Scots pine regeneration is one of the serious threats to grassland bird species on the Moraine. Grasslands are rapidly transformed into Scots pine thickets if left unto its own devices, creating habitat that is unsuitable for the grassland bird species that could otherwise breed there. This is an important invader to control due to the documented decline of grasslands birds. While Scots pine can provide shelter for some wintering birds and deer, and nesting habitat for a few common generalist species, it provides very little value as a food source.

As traditional dumping grounds of everything from compost and garden waste to fill, wetlands have long been the recipient of invasive species. Species such as purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) have been the subject of intensive eradication efforts in the past. However, newer invaders such as ornamental jewelweed (Impatiens gladulifera), found in moist to wet swamps, are proving to be spectacularly effective at both rapid expansion and excluding any other form of growth (OFAH 2006).

117

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Climate Change Climate change, as discussed in Section 2.0, also has an impact on Natural Heritage. Climate change will increasingly drive biodiversity loss affecting both species and ecosystems (UNEP, 2007). At a species level, each species will respond in an individual fashion according to its tolerance to climate changes, its ability to disperse into a new location, alter its phenology (such as breeding date), or adapt to shifting food resources (UNEP, 2007). As there are so many variables for each species, and so many species comprising an ecosystem, it is very difficult to predict exactly how ecosystems will respond to this change. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, 2007), wetlands and forests are among ecosystems that are particularly vulnerable to climate change. The following table is from the UNEP’s Sensitive Ecoystems Analysis (2000): Ecosystem Wetlands Key Climatic Variables • Mean summer temperatures • Mean annual precipitation • Flooding Implications for Biodiversity • Increased variability in hydrological, cycle, leaving inland wetlands to dry out with lower species diversity • Warming of 3-4C could eliminate 85% of all remaining wetlands • Major changes in vegetation types, forests may disappear in certain areas at a rate faster then the potential rate of migration to or re-growth in new areas.

Forests

Changes in rainfall, temperature and potential evapotranspiration Increased frequency of fire and storms

While the actual impact of climate change within the Lake Simcoe watershed is difficult to predict, this information provides some indication of what could be expected and efforts that could be made to reduce the impacts. For example, that wetlands are under further threat as a result of climate change should provide additional rationale for their long-term protection. 5.4 Tools and Actions to date to Improve Natural Heritage

Provincial As identified in Section 1.0, the Province of Ontario has introduced several new and updated planning frameworks/documents, which help to maintain and/or restore natural heritage systems in Ontario, while providing for sustainable communities, infrastructure and economic growth, and benefits from other resources. Of particular importance to the Lake Simcoe watershed are the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (2002), the
118

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Greenbelt Plan (2005) and the Provincial Policy Statement 2005. The Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan (ORMCP) is an ecologically based plan intended to protect the ecological and hydrological features and functions of the plan area. Lands designated under the ORMCP as Natural Area and Natural Linkage represent the natural heritage system of the Moraine. The Greenbelt Plan (2005) includes lands within and builds upon the ecological protections provided by the ORMCP. Within the Protected Countryside designation of the Greenbelt Plan, a Natural System has been identified which is comprised of a natural heritage system, water resource system and key natural heritage features and key hydrologic features. The Natural Heritage System of those Provincial Plans represents those areas with the highest concentration of the most sensitive and/or significant natural heritage features and functions. The Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) recognizes the key role that the protection of natural heritage features, areas and systems play in economic prosperity, environmental health and social well being. The PPS directs that the long-term ecological functions and biodiversity of natural heritage systems should be maintained, restored or where possible improved. It further requires that natural features and areas be protected for the long term. To assist approval authorities in making land use planning decisions consistent with the natural heritage goals of the PPS, the Province, though the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), has developed technical guidelines and manuals including the Natural Heritage Reference Manual (1999) and the Significant Wildlife Habitat Technical Guideline (2002). In areas outside of the Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, these guidelines assist municipalities in developing their own Natural Heritage Systems and related policy for their official plans. To ensure that natural heritage information is accurate and up to date, the MNR continues to update mapping and evaluations related to wetlands and Areas of Natural and Scientific Interest as well as preparing Recovery Plans and habitat guidelines for endangered and threatened species. To further the protection of species at risk the Province has also passed The Endangered Species Act, 2007. This legislation is only one component of the Provinces comprehensive approach to species at risk protection that also includes programs and policies to implement the new legislation, and greater support for public stewardship initiatives. To assist municipalities in the identification and protection of natural heritage systems, MNR is developing and testing a science-based replicable approach for identifying landscape-scale natural heritage systems for southern Ontario. The development of the Natural Heritage Systems Approach as a tool complements other tools that exist in today’s planning framework. The approach may be used to produce high-level mapping as a starting point for further analysis and refinement.

119

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Municipal York Region Significant Woodlands Study, 2005 The York Region Significant Woodlands Study will update the Region's forest cover information using 2002 ortho-photography, and establish and apply criteria to determine the significance of woodlots within the Region. This information will assist with a number of Greening Strategy initiatives relating to the protection and enhancement of a healthy natural heritage system for future generations, including updating the Significant Forest Cover mapping in the Regional Official Plan through a subsequent Official Plan Amendment. The purpose of study is to analyse the science around significant woodlands relative to the Regional Landscape and natural heritage condition with the intent of delineating and defining significant woodlands. This study does not include the implementation of the findings through a Regional Official Plan Amendment (ROPA) or any other policy development. Implementation of the findings, including a ROPA will be undertaken subsequent to the study with additional public consultation and input. The study confirmed that 22.5 per cent of York Region is covered by forests and 97 per cent of this cover is Regionally significant. This information will be useful in:
• • • •

Directing Forest Conservation By-law administration Naturalization, stewardship and property securement Protecting and restoring a connected natural heritage system for future generations Directing sustainable growth once incorporated into the Regional Official Plan

York Region’s Natural Heritage System Update York Region is embarking on an update to the Natural Heritage Strategy as a component of the Planning For Tomorrow Growth Management Strategy. York Region has faced significant growth over the past 25 years. Past growth and future growth forecasts will continue to place considerable additional pressure on the Region's natural heritage system. Ensuring a strong, robust natural heritage system integrated into the new communities of York Region, and enhanced and restored in the Region's intensifying urban areas will help ensure the long term health of the system and contribute to a sustainable York Region. In May 2007, the Natural Heritage Discussion Paper was released. The Discussion Paper proposed eight Action Areas for charting a fresh path for natural heritage planning. 1. Update our Natural Heritage System 2. Incorporate The Greenbelt Plan Into The Regional Official Plan 3. Make Connections in New Communities.
120

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Restore and Strengthen the Natural Heritage System Adopt a New Approach to Infrastructure. Establish a Regional Trail Network. Advance the Greening Strategy. Continued Awareness and Dialogue.

The feedback received on the Discussion Paper reinforced the importance of a coordinated and comprehensive strategy to identify a linked natural heritage system throughout York Region. Consultation confirmed the importance of the eight Action Areas. In January 2008, Regional Council endorsed strategic directions for moving forward on each of the 8 Action Areas. Durham Region The Durham Region Official Plan has recently been updated to include enhanced policies for the protection of natural heritage features and systems. Specifically, the Plan includes policies addressing:
• • • • • •

Protection of a natural heritage system and its associated components Woodlands cover target of 30% Retention and/or re-establishment of natural linkages and connections between natural heritage features and areas Restoration and protection of native biodiversity Protection of water resources Securement of lands for the purposes of protection/enhancement.

City of Barrie - Natural Heritage The City of Barrie is in the process of updating its Official Plan prior to June of 2009 to meet provincial policies, incorporate Greater Golden Horseshoe Plan and the Inter Governmental Action Plan (IGAP) recommendations. The City will be addressing Natural Heritage Policies and Strategy through this update. The Lake Simcoe Natural Heritage System Phase 1 and 2 will form the basis for the Official Plan policies and mapping. City Staff will be working with Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority Staff in developing these strategies and policies through the public consultation process as part of the update. Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority The LSRCA is involved in natural heritage matters on several fronts. Through the permitting process (O.Reg. 179/06), the potential impact to natural heritage is considered and when necessary, appropriate studies (e.g., Environmental Impact Study, Hydrological Impact Study) are requested and reviewed. Through Memorandums of Understanding with our partner municipalities, the Authority reviews and provides comments on the natural heritage component of reports and studies (i.e., Environmental Impact Studies, Natural Heritage Evaluations) completed in support of

121

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

development proposals, as well as Environment Assessments, completed under the Environmental Assessment Act. The LSRCA embarked on an ambitious mapping project in 2001 to identify and map the natural heritage features and land use of the Lake Simcoe watershed. The mapping was undertaken using the Ministry of Natural Resources’ standardized protocol for vegetation identification; Ecological Land Classification (ELC), combined with standardized land use categories, mostly through airphoto (or digital orthophotography) interpretation. As the mapping has been in progress since 2001, the most recent orthophotos were used as they became available. Since the initiation of the mapping, only the 2002 set of orthophotos cover the entire watershed in one year. In 2006 the mapping was fully updated to the 2002 orthophoto base for the entire watershed. Now that the LSRCA has an accurate inventory of the natural heritage features and land use of the watershed at one time (2002), changes in land cover and land use can now be measured over time from this point forward. At the time of writing, there has not been another full set of orthophoto coverage available for the entire watershed on which to measure and analyse change. It is anticipated that full coverage will be available to the Authority in the near future, at which time change analysis will be undertaken. Based on the structure of the data contained in the mapping, change detection of natural heritage features can include such metrics as: woodland cover (e.g., increase/decrease), community structure (e.g., thicket to forest), change in quantity and distribution of woodland interior, woodland distribution, and meadow quantity and wetland loss. Analysis of land use can include change in the amount, extent and distribution of peat extraction operations, conversion of agricultural lands to urban uses, and encroachment by exurban development. This analysis can be conducted on a watershed basis or by subwatershed, which can feed into subwatershed plans. The data and analysis can also be provided on a municipal level to assist in Official Plan updates and in planning, both generally and on site-specific projects. The Authority also recently completed Phase 1: Natural Heritage System Components for the Lake Simcoe Watershed Natural Heritage System. The Phase 1: Natural Heritage System is a key tool in assisting watershed municipalities to fully implement the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS) by identifying the features of the natural heritage system. Phase 2: Restoration, Enhancement and Securement Strategy was initiated in 2008.

122

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

6.0 Towards Achieving LSEMS Goals
6.1 Introduction

The original LSEMS goal developed in Phase I of restoring a self-sustaining coldwater fishery has expanded to a holistic goal of improving the health of the through a suite of focused objectives. Phase III LSEMS Goals and Objectives “To improve and protect the health of the Lake Simcoe watershed ecosystem and improve associated recreational opportunities by: • • • • Restoring a self-sustaining coldwater fishery; Improving water quality; Reducing phosphorus loads to Lake Simcoe; and Protecting natural heritage features and functions.”

This evolution has been required and successful for the LSEMS program as Phase III of LSEMS included the highest diversity of activities, programs and projects across wide ranging disciplines all focused on protecting and improving the health of the lake and understanding its complexity. Simply, the reality that everything is connected to everything else has been the underlying philosophy of LSEMS in the most recent phase. This philosophy or reality is the foundation looking forward to continued, enhanced and increased protection and restoration of the Lake Simcoe basin. The following sections identify not only what does the lake and watershed need looking forward but also what are some options and approaches to respond to the needs of the Lake Simcoe basin. 6.2 What the Lake and its Watershed Needs

Based on the preceding chapters and earlier LSEMS work, below provides a synopsis of what the Lake and its watershed needs to ensure long term health and to meet the LSEMS goals and objectives. Water Quality • • • • Reduction of pollutants in Lake Simcoe and its tributaries Identify and target sites of concern for input of nutrients and other contaminants and work to reduce the risk from these sites Stakeholders working together to meet applicable [achievable] standards for aquatic contaminants Research to better understand the impacts of pollutants in the ecosystem

123

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

• •

Greater public understanding of the impacts of contaminants in the lake, and how to minimize the risk of contamination Research that identifies local sources of atmospheric phosphorus loading

Water Quantity • • • Improvement and restoration of flow to systems under stress, Protection of areas of groundwater recharge and discharge. Identification and protection of areas of groundwater vulnerability to protect from risks (from contamination, loss of recharge, etc)

Fisheries and Fish Habitat • • • • • • Enhanced levels of natural reproduction of coldwater fishes (i.e. lake trout & whitefish) Increased hypolimnetic oxygen levels to improve ecological function Identification, protection and enhancement of fisheries habitat in the lake and its tributaries Maintainance and enhancement of the warm water fish community in the lake and its tributaries Control the introduction, spread, and impact of invasive species in order to preserve the integrity of the Lake Simcoe ecosystem Restoration and protection of native biodiversity

Natural Heritage • • • • • 6.3 Protection of a common natural heritage system and its associated components within the watershed; Retention and/or re-establishment of natural linkages and connections between natural heritage features and areas; Restoration and protection of native biodiversity Enhanced existing natural features, areas and functions; and Securement of lands for the purposes of protection/enhancement.

Options and Approaches

Based on the preceding, options and approaches to achieve the LSEMS goals and to address what the lake needs are provided below under five headings: Programs, Policies and Enforcement • Implement a comprehensive storm water management retrofit and uncontrolled areas program for existing urban areas in the Lake Simcoe Basin.

124

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

• • • • • • • •

Limit the extraction of water for consumptive use in the Lake Simcoe basin with an emphasis on subwatersheds identified as under stress through the Tier I and II water budgets (SWP Requirement). Ensure enforcement of permits for water users / takers, where required. Undertake restoration/enhancement projects within the watershed to improve the fish community and aquatic habitats within Lake Simcoe and its tributaries. Participate on recovery teams and implement local projects to enhance and protect Species at Risk within the Lake Simcoe watershed. Develop an Invasive Species Response Protocol for the Lake Simcoe watershed. Identify and incorporate provincially, regionally and locally significant natural heritage features that link with the Greenbelt Natural Heritage System into municipal planning documents Incorporate policies to protect natural heritage features and systems into municipal planning documents. Establish and/or enhance municipal site alteration and tree cutting bylaws to assist in protection of features.

Stewardship • • • Continue to implement and expand environmental stewardship programs, funding and opportunities across the Lake Simcoe basin to assist in the restoration and protection of watershed. Direct stewardship activities within the natural heritage system to achieve restoration and rehabilitation. Seek securement opportunities for lands integral to the watersheds natural heritage system.

Studies • Develop a management framework to maintain the health of the lake and the associated management options, which will be based on the lake’s tributaries and the detailed recommendations of the Assimilative Capacity Study. Develop and assess options to achieve sub-watershed targets in order to not exceed the recommended annual in-lake phosphorus target. Consider the development of a Nutrient Trading or Offsetting Mechanisms to reduce phosphorus loading to Lake Simcoe as a tool for the aforementioned ACS implementation framework. Complete detailed water budgets across the basin to provide information to better understand the stress potential and allow for better decision making. Develop a stream flow management framework / evaluation system recognizing Environmental-flows to ensure ecological health of systems.
125

• • • •

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

• • • • •

Determine effective methods for reducing the atmospheric phosphorus load, and undertake activities to reduce loading from this source. Increase knowledge of the flora and fauna of the Lake Simcoe basin to identify information required to protect and manage critical habitat and ensure informed decision making. Develop fish community objectives for the lake and its tributaries. Quantify and assess the quality of critical fish habitats in the lake and its tributaries. Determine the factor(s) limiting natural reproduction of the coldwater fishery.

Monitoring Programs • • Continue chemical and biological monitoring in the watershed to provide the best possible and up to date science in order to set target priorities for action and making wise resource management decisions. Continue to monitor the climate change issue and where suitable incorporate climate change information into ongoing studies. The information derived from those assessments may provide insight into future management options and identification of potential future areas of stress and concern. Complete studies and install monitoring equipment that will be necessary to accurately quantify phosphorus loading from atmospheric sources. Monitor fish communities, assess information gaps and determine activities necessary to fill them.

• •

Education and Outreach • • • 6.4 Increase the development and promotion of water conservation and water efficiencies for all users across the basin. Enhance communications on all aspects of fisheries management, invasive species and fish habitat to build an informed populous. Provide education and awareness programs to ensure watershed health overall.

Looking to the Future

The vision for the future of LSEMS is a continuing program of protection and restoration to improve the quality of water in the lake and natural resources in the watershed. As the human population grows, conservation efforts will continue to be an important part of urban development. At the same time, restoration projects will become more challenging and potentially more expensive since the most easily implemented, conventional projects have been completed. Future remedial projects will continue to rely on proven conventional techniques but there will need to be more investment in and potential risk taken in exploring new technologies and concepts. Success will require commitment, participation and funding.
126

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Citizens and stakeholder groups have made it clear that they wish to be more active LSEMS participants, working hand in hand with government to protect and improve the lake. The LSEMS partnership has listened to our communities over the past 17 years; in addition to understanding what the science of the Lake, and how science can help restore the health of the Lake, we recognized that continued success for the Lake must include: A new governance structure that involves a much greater role for citizens in the watershed community; continuing best practices to manage water quality; innovation and research; increased stakeholder involvement at all levels; better and simpler communication; and sustained adequate funding. This report focuses on the leading-edge science that continues to predict and validate that Lake Simcoe and its ecosystem continues to be at risk unless actions by all stakeholders and levels of governments are undertaken. The report emphasizes that science and emerging science is providing opportunities through options and approaches that can assist us to protect and restore the health of the lake and its basin. Working together, we can restore a state of balance in the lake and the natural resources of the watershed. With commitment and effort, we can protect environmentally sensitive areas from further damage. With vision and leadership, we can have sustainable growth and continue to enjoy a clean and healthy environment. Our vision for the future of Lake Simcoe is a renewed and recharged lake, invigorated with a continual supply of fresh water from its tributaries flowing down from every corner of the watershed. Human settlements co-existing with wildlife habitats. The basin flourishing in a state of balance, all of its inhabitants integrated with the land and water, with respect for each other and a shared sense of responsibility to sustain these natural resources for future generations. The lake belongs to everyone.

127

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

References:
Anisimov, O.A., D.G. Vaughan, T.V. Callaghan, C. Furgal, H. Marchant, T.D. Prowse, H. Vilhjálmsson and J.E. Walsh, 2007: Polar regions (Arctic and Antarctic). Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 653-685. Austen, M.J.W., C.M. Francis, M.S.W. Bradstreet and D.M. Burke. 2001. Landscape context and fragmentation effects on forest birds in Southern Ontario. Condor 103:701-714. Bayne, E.M. and K.A. Hobson. 2002. Apparent survival of male ovenbirds in fragmented and forested boreal landscapes. Ecology 83: 1307-1316. Beacon Environmental and the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, 2007: A Natural Heritage System for the Lake Simcoe Watershed. Prepared for the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and the Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy. 142 pp. plus appendices. Bergkamp, G. and Orlando, B., 1999: Wetland and Climate Change – background paper from the IUCN, exploring collaboration between the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) and UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, http://www.ramsar.org/key_unfccc_bkgd.htm, IUCN. Bock, C.E., V.A. Saab, T.D.Rich, & D.S.Bodkin, 1993. Effects of livestock grazing on neotropical migratory landbirds in western North America pp. 296-309. In: Fin, D.M. and P.W.Stangel (eds_ Status and Management of Neotropical Migratory Birds; 1992 September 21-25; Estes Park, Co. Gen. Tech Rep. RM=229. Fort Collins, CO:U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. Bollinger, E.K. and T. A. Gavin. 1992. Eastern Bobolink populations: ecology and conservation in an agricultural landscape. Pp. 497–506 in Ecology and Conservation of Neotropical Migrant Landbirds (J. M. Hagan III and D. W. Johnston, eds.). Smithsonian Institute Press, Washington, D.C Bollinger, E.K. and P.V. Switzer. 2002. Modelling the impact of edge avoidance on avian nest densities in habitat fragments. Ecological Applications 12: 1567-1575. Bozkurt, S., Lucisano, M., Moreno, L. and Neretnieks, I., 2001: Peat as a potential analogue for the long-term evolution in landfills, Earth-Science Reviews, 53, 95-147. Brooker, L and M. Brooker. 2002. Dispersal and population dynamics of the blue-breasted fairy wren, Malurus pulcherrimus, in fragmented habitat in the Western Australian wheatbelt. Wildlife Research 29: 225-233. Burke, D.M. and E. Nol. 2000. Landscape and fragment size effects on reproductive success of forest-breeding birds in Ontario. Ecological Applications 10:1749-1761. Christensen, J.H., B. Hewitson, A. Busuioc, A. Chen, X. Gao, I. Held, R. Jones, R.K. Kolli, W.-T. Kwon, R. Laprise, V. Magaña Rueda, L. Mearns, C.G. Menéndez, J. Räisänen, A. 128

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Rinke, A. Sarr and P. Whetton, 2007: Regional Climate Projections. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Detenbeck, N.E., S.M. Galatowitsch, J. Atkinson and H. Ball. 1999. Evaluating perturbations and developing restoration strategies for inland wetlands in the Great Lakes Basin. Wetlands 19: 789-820. Ducks Unlimited Canada. 2006. Leading ag economist weighs in on sustaining landscapes. Ducks Unlimited Canada Conservator 27: 12. Dugan, P.J., 1990. Wetland Conservation: A review of current issues and required action, IUCN, Gland (Switzerland), 95 pp. Environment Canada, 2007: Great Lakes Wetlands Conservation Action Plan: Highlights Report 1997-2000, Canadian Wildlife Service, http://www.on.ec.gc.ca/wildlife/docs/glwcap2e.html Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service. 2004. How Much Habitat is Enough? A Framework for Guiding Habitat Rehabilitation in Great Lakes Areas of Concern (Second Edition). Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada. 80 pp. Environment Canada. 2003. Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines. Evans, D.O. 2007. Presentation to Lake Simcoe Technical Research Group (pers. comm.). Evans, D.O. 2006. Effects of hypoxia on scope-for-activity of lake trout: defining a new dissolved oxygen criterion for protection of lake trout habitat. Habitat and Fisheries Unit, Aquatic Research and Development Section, Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, ON. Technical Report 2005-01. Evans, D. O. 2005. Effects of hypoxia on scope-for-activity and power capacity of juvenile lake trout, Salvelinus namaycush: Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. In review. Evans, D. O., K. H. Nicholls, Y. C. Allen and M. J. McMurtry. 1996. Historical land use, phosphorus loading and loss of fish habitat in Lake Simcoe, Canada. Can. J. Fish. Aquatic Sci. 53 (Suppl. 1): 194-218. Fahrig, L. 2002. Effect of habitat fragmentation on the extinction threshold: a synthesis. Ecological Applications 12: 346-353. Federation of Ontario Naturalists. 2006. Available Online: http/::www.ontarionature.org:pdf:urban_forest.pdf. Field, C.B., L.D. Mortsch, M. Brklacich, D.L. Forbes, P. Kovacs, J.A. Patz, S.W. Running and M.J. Scott, 2007: North America. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 617-652. 129

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Friesen, L.E., M. D. Cadman and R. J. MacKay. 1998. Nesting success of neotropical migrant songbirds in a highly fragmented landscape. Conservation Biology 13: 338-346. Friesen, L. E., V. E. Wyatt and M. D. Cadman. 1999. Pairing success of wood thrushes in a fragmented agricultural landscape. Wilson Bulletin 111: 279-281. Fuller, R.J., R.D. Gregory, D.W.Gibbons, J.H. Marchant, J.D.Wilson, S.R.Baillie & N. Carter, 1995. Population declines and range contractions among lowland farmland birds in Britain. Conservation Biology 9:135-142. Gabor, T.S., A.K. North, L.C.M. Ross, H.R. Murkin, J.S. Anderson, and M.A. Turner. 2001. Beyond the Pipe - The Importance of Wetlands & Upland Conservation Practices in Watershed Management: Functions & Values for Water Quality & Quantity. Ducks Unlimited Canada. 43 pp. Gleeson, J., Zeller, A. and McLaughlin, J.W., 2006: Peat as a fuel source in Ontario, Ontario Forest Research Institute. Golet, F.H., Y. Wang, J.D. Merrow and W.R. DeRagon. 2001. Relationship between habitat and landscape features and the avian community of red maple swamps in southern Rhode Island. Wilson Bulletin 113: 217-227. Greenland International Consulting Ltd. 2006. Assimilative Capacity Study: CANWET™ Modeling Project Lake Simcoe and Nottawasaga River Basins. Herkert, J.R., R.E. Szafoni, V.M. Kleen and J.E. Schwegman. 1993. Habitat establishment, enhancement and management for forest and grassland birds in Illinois. Natural Heritage Technical Publication #1, Illinois Department of Conservation, Springfield, Illinois. 22 pp. Holden, J., Chapman, P.J. and Labadz, J.C., 2004: Artificial drainage of peatlands: hydrological and hydrochemical process and wetland restoration, Progress in Physical Geography, 28, 95-123. International Joint Commission, 2003: Climate Change and Water Quality in the Great Lakes Basin: Report of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board to the International Joint Commission. http://www.ijc.org/php/publications/html/climate/index.html IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. IPCC, 2007: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 7-22.

130

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

IPCC, 2001: Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Houghton, J.T.,Y. Ding, D.J. Griggs, M. Noguer, P.J. van der Linden, X. Dai, K. Maskell, and C.A. Johnson (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 881pp. Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA). 2007. Watershed Development Policies. Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA). 2007. Lake Simcoe Basin Stormwater Management and Retrofit Opportunities. Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA). 2006. Lake Simcoe Watershed 2006 Environmental Monitoring Report. Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA). 2005. Lake Simcoe Watershed 2005 Environmental Monitoring Report. Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA). 2005. Lake Simcoe Watershed Toxic Pollutant Screening Program. La Rose, J., and Willox, C. 2006. Survival of Wild Lake Trout in Lake Simcoe. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Lake Simcoe Fisheries Assessment Unit Update 2006-1. Larson, B.M., J. Riley, E. A. Snell and H. G. Godschalk. 1999. The Woodland Heritage of Southern Ontario. Federation of Ontario Naturalists. Don Mills, Ontario. 262 pp. Lemke, P., J. Ren, R.B. Alley, I. Allison, J. Carrasco, G. Flato, Y. Fujii, G. Kaser, P. Mote, R.H. Thomas and T. Zhang, 2007: Observations: Changes in Snow, Ice and Frozen Ground. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Lichstein, J.W., T.R. Simons and K.E. Franzreb. 2002. Landscape effects on breeding songbird abundance in managed forests. Ecological Applications 12: 836-857. Lienesch, P.W., McDonald, M.E., Hershey, A.E., O’Brien, W.J., and Bettez, N. D. 2005. Effects of a whole-lake, experimental fertilization on lake trout in a small oligotrophic arctic lake. Hydrobiologia 548: 51-66. Lindenmayer, D.B., R.B. Cunningham, C.F. Donnelly, H. Nix and B.D. Lindenmayer. 2002. Effects of forest fragmentation on bird assemblages in a novel landscape context. Ecological Applications 72: 1-18. Louis Berger Group, Inc. 2006. Assimilative Capacity: Pollutant Target Load Study for the Lake Simcoe and Nottawasaga River Watersheds. LSEMS. 2003. Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy. State of the Lake Simcoe Watershed.

131

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

LSEMS. 2003. Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy. Technical Bulletin: What Are Macrophytes? How Are They Affecting Lake Simcoe? LSEMS. 1995. Our Waters, Our Heritage. Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy Implementation Program Summary of Phase I Progress and Recommendations for Phase II. MacCrimmon, H. R. and E. Skobe. 1970. The Fisheries of Lake Simcoe. Department of Lands and Forests, Fish and Wildlife Branch, Ontario. MacRae, P. 2001. The Status of Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in Lake Simcoe. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Lake Simcoe Fisheries Assessment Units. Report 20012. Mancke, R.G. and T.A. Gavin. 2000. Breeding bird density in woodlots: Effects of depth and buildings at the edges. Ecological Applications 10: 598-211. Margules, C.R. and R.L. Pressey. 2000. Systematic conservation planning. Nature 405: 243253. Maryland Partners in Flight Management Committee. 1997. Habitat management guidelines for the benefit of landbirds in Maryland. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Annapolis field office. Available online: http://www.mdbirds.org/mdpif/lmg.html McCraken, J.D. 2005. Where the Bobolinks Roam: The Plight of North America’s Grassland Birds. Tropical Conservancy Biodiversity. 6(3): 20-29. McGarigal, K. and S.A. Cushman. 2002. Comparative evaluation of experimental approaches to the study of habitat fragmentation effects. Ecological Applications 12: 335-345. McMurtry, M. 1999. McMurtry, M. and F. Amtstaetter. 1999. Status of the Lake Simcoe Fish Community. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Lake Simcoe Fisheries Assessment Unit. Update No. 1999-1. Meehl, G.A., T.F. Stocker, W.D. Collins, P. Friedlingstein, A.T. Gaye, J.M. Gregory, A. Kitoh, R. Knutti, J.M. Murphy, A. Noda, S.C.B. Raper, I.G. Watterson, A.J. Weaver and Z.-C. Zhao, 2007: Global Climate Projections. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Miller, J.R. and R.J. Hobbs. 2002. Conservation where people live and work. Conservation Biology 16: 330-337. Ministry of Municipal Housing and Affairs. 2005. Provincial Policy Statement 2005. Ministry of Municipal Housing and Affairs. Toronto. Mitsch, W.J. and Gosselink, J.G., 1986: Wetlands, Reinhold, NY.

132

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Neil, J., J Graham, and J. Warren. 1988. Aquatic Plants of Cook’s Bay, Lake Simcoe, 1987. Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy Technical Committee, Imp. B4. Nol, E., C.M. Francis and D.M. Burke. 2005. Using distance from putative source woodlands to predict occurrence of forest birds in putative sinks. Conservation Biology 19: 836-844. Nicholls, K.H. 1997. A limnological basis for a Lake Simcoe phosphorus loading objective. J. Lake and Reserv. Manage. 13:189–198. Nicholls, K.H. 1995. A limnological basis for a Lake Simcoe phosphorus loading objective. Imp B17 Implementation Report, Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy, Implementation Program Summary of Phase I progress and Recommendations for Phase II, 109 pp Oldham, M.J. (Third Edition). 1999. Natural Heritage Resources of Ontario: Rare Vascular Plants, Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario. Oldham, M.J. 2003. Conservation Status of Ontario Amphibians, Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario. Ontario Ministry of the Environment. 2007. Assessment Report: Guidance Module 7 - Water Budget and Water Quantity Risk Assessment. Ontario Ministry of the Environment. 2007. Smog. Available online: http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/en/air/smog/ Ontario Ministry of the Environment. 2006. Air Quality In Ontario. Ontario Ministry of the Environment. 2000. Ontario’s Anti-Smog Action Plan: Progress Through Partnership. Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE). 1994. Provincial water quality objectives of the Ministry of Environment and Energy. Queens Printers for Ontario, ON. Ontario Ministry of Environment. 1981. Outlines of Analytical Methods Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 2006. Inland Ontario Lakes Designated for Lake Trout Management. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 2005. Natural Heritage Information Centre. Available online: http://nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/nhic_.cfm Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 2000. Significant Wildlife Habitat Technical Guide. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 151 pp. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 1999. Natural Heritage Reference Manual for Policy 2.3 of the Provincial Policy Statement. 127 pp. Ontario Ministry of Transportation. February 2007. Dust Control.

133

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Peltier, W.R. 2007. Global Warming: the Latest Assessment (Highlights of the IPCC AR4). Presentation to Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority Annual General Meeting (pers. comm.). Peterjohn, B.G. 2003. Agricultural landscapes: can they support healthy bird populations as well as farm products? Auk 120:14-19. Polasky, S. 2006. You can’t always get what you want: Conservation planning with feedback effects. PNAS 103: 5245-5246. Redford, K.H. and B.D. Richter. 1999. Conservation of biodiversity in a world of use. Conservation Biology 13: 1246-1256. Riley, J. L. and P. Mohr. 1994. The natural heritage of southern Ontario's settled landscapes. A review of conservation and restoration ecology for land-use and landscape planning. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Southern Region Aurora, Science and Technology Transfer, Technical Report TR-001. 78 pp. Riley, J.L. 1989. Southern Ontario bogs and fens off the Canadian Shield. pp. 355-367. In: Bardecki, M.J. and N. Patterson (eds.). Wetlands: inertia or momentum? Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Don Mills, 426 pp. Robbins, C.S., D.K. Dawson and B.A. Dowell. 1989. Habitat area requirements of breeding birds of the middle Atlantic states. Wildlife Monographs 103: 34 pp. Rosenburg, K. V., R. W. Rohrbaugh, Jr., S. E. Barker, J. D. Lowe, R. S. Hames and A. A. Dhondt. 1999. A land manager’s guide to improving habitat for Scarlet Tanagers and other forest-interior birds. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Rosenzweig, C. and Hillel, D. 1998. Climate change and the global harvest: potential impacts of the greenhouse effect on agriculture; Oxford University Press, New York, New York, 352 p. Rötter, R. and van de Geijn, S.C. 1999. Climate change effects on plant growth, crop yield and livestock; Climatic Change, v. 43, no. 4, p. 651-681. Scott, L.D., Winter, J.G., and Girard, R.E. 2005. Annual water balances, total phosphorus budgets, and total nitrogen and chloride loads for Lake Simcoe (1998 – 2004). Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy Implementation Phase III Technical Report Imp. A.6. Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, Newmarket, ON. Scott, L.D., Winter, J.G., Futter, M.N., and Girard, R.E. 2001. Annual water balances and phosphorus loading for Lake Simcoe (1990–1998). Lake Simcoe Environmental Management Strategy Implementation Phase II Technical Report Imp. A.4. Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, Newmarket, ON. Scott, W.B. and E.J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater Fishes of Canada. Fisheries Research Board of Canada. Ottawa. 966 p. Stantec Consulting Ltd., Ottawa. 2006. Aquatic Macrophyte Survey of Cook’s Bay, Lake Simcoe, August 2006. Prepared for the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority.

134

Lake Simcoe Basin Wide Report March 20, 2008

Trenberth, K.E., P.D. Jones, P. Ambenje, R. Bojariu, D. Easterling, A. Klein Tank, D. Parker, F. Rahimzadeh, J.A. Renwick, M. Rusticucci, B. Soden and P. Zhai, 2007: Observations: Surface and Atmospheric Climate Change. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Avery, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Trzcinski, M. K., L. Fahrig and G. Merriam. 1999. Independent effects of forest cover and fragmentation on the distribution of forest breeding birds. Ecological Applications 9: 586593. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 2007 Biodiversity and climate change: http://www.unep-wcmc.org/climate/default.aspx United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2006. National Recommended Water Quality Criteria. United States Geological Survey. 2005. Atmospheric Deposition Program of the U.S. Geological Survey USGS-1. Retrieved April 2005 http://bqs.usgs.gov/acidrain/Program.pdf. Villard, M.-A., M. K. Trzcinski and G. Merriam. 1999. Fragmentation effects on forest birds: relative influence of woodland cover and configuration on landscape occupancy. Conservation Biology 13: 774-783. Willox, C.C. 2001. Lake Simcoe Lake Trout: Evidence of Natural Reproduction. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Lake Simcoe Fisheries Assessment Unit Update 2001-5. 3 p. Winter, J.G., M.C. Eimers, P.J. Dillon, L. D. Scott, W. A. Scheider, and C. C. Willox. 2007. Phosphorus Inputs to Lake Simcoe from 1990 to 2003: Declines in Tributary Loads and Observations on Lake Quality. J. Great Lakes Res. 33:381–396. Yap, David, Neville Reid, Gary De Brou, Robert Bloxam. 2005. Transboundary Air Pollution in Ontario. Ontario Ministry of the Environment. Warren, Fiona J., Elaine Barrow, Ryan Schwartz, Jean Andrey, Brian Mills, Dieter Riedel. 2004. Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation: A Canadian Perspective. Government of Canada.

135

Filename: CBWR_FINAL_Mar20_08.doc Directory: W:\CBWR Template: C:\Documents and Settings\pamelad\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates\Normal.dot Title: 1 Subject: Author: Labbatt Keywords: Comments: Creation Date: 3/18/2008 8:47:00 AM Change Number: 28 Last Saved On: 4/7/2008 8:35:00 AM Last Saved By: PamelaD Total Editing Time: 486 Minutes Last Printed On: 4/7/2008 8:36:00 AM As of Last Complete Printing Number of Pages: 135 Number of Words: 48,222 (approx.) Number of Characters: 268,120 (approx.)

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->