Water Quality and Science

The French River Needs Our Help

Water quality problems are increasing worldwide due to the pressures from population growth and development, and our area is no exception.  Increased pollution levels resulting from human activities are causing serious problems in many waterways, from toxic algae blooms to the decimation of local fish populations.  Phosphorous loading is recognized as a key indicator of water quality and is an area that is being addressed by the French River Stewardship Council.   The targets for phosphorous loading established by our research are;

  • Less than 10 micrograms per litre (ug/L) indicates natural nutrient levels.

  • 10 to 15 ug/L is nutrient enrichment of concern.

  • Over 15 ug/L is an indication of significant water quality problems.

After reviewing our second year of detailed sampling results, the French River Stewardship Council is raising the level of concern with respect to the deterioration of water quality.  The nutrient loading, as measured by phosphorous concentration, has reached unacceptable levels with 5 of our 14 test sites averaging above 15 ug/L for the 2008 sampling season and only 3 of 75 tests returning levels less than 10 ug/L.  If left unchecked the results are very clear;

  • A decrease in water clarity with an increase in weed growth particularly in sheltered and bay areas.  More and more areas will become weed choked.  Invasive species such as milfoil will flourish.
  • The shoreline and rocks become covered in slippery sediment and algae.  The sedimentation on rocks will have devastating effects on Pickerel and eventually cause a decline in sport fish.  Pickerel, Pike and Bass will be replaced by Carp, Suckers and Catfish species.
  • More serious blue green algae events will occur and eventually last the entire summer season.  Once this occurs vacationers will leave and property value will plummet.

These events are already occurring in nearby waters and they are very real.  The areas that are of main concern are;

  • The operation of Lagoon facilities.  We have reviewed our findings and concers with both the Ontario Clean Water Agency and with our local Municipality.
  • The issue of sustainable development and human impact.  The things that seemed okay 40 years ago no longer are acceptable.  We are working with local municipalities to ensure that the problem is understood and that they become part of the solution.  Environmental concerns must be central in the decision making process.
  • We are making a major effort to educate the local public with respect to the real problems we now face.   Simple efforts by individuals, such as using phosphate free detergents and maintaining natural shorelines, can have a significant positive impact.