Water Sampling

French River Stewardship Council (FRSC)

Report on the three year sampling project 2007 to 2009

During the past three years the FRSC conducted a French River sampling project that extended from the Lake Nipissing outflow to the French River Delta. Sampling was undertaken to assess nutrient loading as determined by phosphorus loading.

Initially 12 sample locations were begun in 2007 and as more volunteers came to assist we were able to add 4 more locations for a third year total of 16. As we move forward we will continue to sample areas were more data is required or where data suggests further sampling would benefit our analysis.

At this time we would like to thank all our volunteers, and the Ontario Lake Partner Program for their hard work and assistance in getting the samples taken and tested. A total of 192 duplicate samples were taken during this period for analysis at the Lake Partner Facility in Dorset Ontario.

Furthermore, in cooperation with the local branch of the Ministry of the Environment, a sedimentation sampling project was begun in June 2009 which we hope to continue in 2010. These results are provided in the attachments.

Aquatic ecosystems are placed into three categories of nutrient status using phosphorus levels as criteria. Waters with total phosphorus levels less the 10 ug/L are classed as oligotrophic and rarely experience nuisance algal blooms.  Those between 10 and 20 ug/L are termed mesotrophic and often show a potential for algal blooms. Those over 20ug/L are termed eutrophic and may exhibit algal blooms that are persistent and that return year after year.

In addition to total phosphorus levels, weather events such as heavy rain fall and water flow rates were tracked as were temperature fluctuations from month to month and year to year. Data was taken from the Environment Canada website as well as from local stations. The data is included in the attachments.

There are currently three areas of concern where phosphorus levels indicate high nutrient loading. These areas are the Woseley Bay area, the Ranger bay area at the Lower Sturgeon outflow and the Ox Bay area of the lower French River. Although further analysis is required the results of our analysis to date would suggest the following.

Woseley Bay area:
Of all our sample points those in this area have periodically demonstrate the highest phosphorus levels particularly during the spring season. (April and May).Although some of this early season high phosphorus readings can attributed to the flushing of nutrient rich wetlands, the levels are above what we would expect based on results from other sections of our river which have similar wetlands.

Sedimentation sampling conducted by our local MoE branch suggests that “It is more likely that activities carried out in close proximity to the bay over the course of time have impacted the water quality. Lakeshore residents are encouraged to maintain their septic systems in good working order and minimize any runoff to the bay by maintaining a shoreline buffer of native vegetation”.

In addition to these local concerns expressed by the MoE it should also be noted that the elevation in spring levels also coincide with the normal discharge periods of local area lagoons. See the four charts below.

Ranger Bay area:
The samples taken on June 8th of 2008 indicated an elevated phosphorus level. These levels can not be attributed to heavy rainfall. As such, a localized event seems most likely.  Ranger Bay has a large population base, and its residence have expressed concerns, we intend to complete further studies in 2010. See the chart below.

The lower French:
Both the Ox Bay area and the Wanapitei River are areas of concern. We have requested the MoE to conduct sedimentation samples in the Ox bay area. The Wanapitei effluent results are quite honestly not yet understood and we hope to complete some further analysis in 2010. See the charts below.

Our remaining sample locations:
The remaining sampling points are charted below. In addition all data points and actual results are shown on the attached excel spreadsheet. The sheet follows the actual flow of the river from the upper French down to the Delta.  Comments are also given to indicate what may have caused elevated reading.

Two of our sample points are located on the Upper French River. The Upper French River Cottagers Association has begun sampling these locations but there is not yet enough data to report any findings. Sampling is planned to continue in 2010.

Oulette Rapids
The Oulette rapids sample point indicates that the high phosphorus levels noted in the Woseley Bay area are for the most part not transported to the downstream sections of the North Channel.

Ranger Bay Outlet:
Due to low water levels in the outlet channel our sample point was located near the North Channel main flow. Results may be influenced more by the main flow of the river than by the outflow from Ranger Bay. For this reason some additional testing was conducted through Testmark in Sudbury. Those results will be reported in a subsequent report on Rangers Bay.

Cow Bay:
Cow bay is a sheltered inlet that in low water flows conditions sees little mixing from the main river current and flow. It is not influenced by wetlands but does have a large number of local cottages and year round residences. For these reasons it was selected as a sample location as it will allow comparisons with the Baker’s Bay area.

Meshaw Falls and Dry Pine Bay:
The Meshaw Falls site samples the water leaving the 18 mile bay area of the North Channel as it enters Dry Pine Bay. The sample location was relocated in 2009 to above the falls as high water flows made sampling dangerous below the falls.

In Dry Pine Bay the sample point in 2007 was positioned near the main channel and was mainly influence by the main channel flow. In 2008 and 2009 the sample point was moved north to also capture the effluent of the Murdock River.

The 2008 and 2009 results from Meshaw Falls and from Dry Pine Bay indicate very similar trends and so we conclude that the water quality in Dry Pine Bay is mainly the result of waters from the North Channel as sampled at Meshaw Falls.

Bakers Bay:
Bakers Bay is a low lying area that often floods during the spring thaw. It has several cottages located on a small shallow inlet. It is influenced by wetlands and so allows a comparison with Cow Bay. This sample point was added in 2008.

Pickerel River:
The Pickerel River flows through what used to be an unorganized township. Local residents have raised concerns with a lack of septic systems and standards.

In summary it remains clear that even as we take into account the impact that nature such as rainfall and other natural events has on nutrient loading, it is the impact of each and everyone of us that must now change if we are to protect this wondrous resource.

Joe Dippong

Map Sampling Points Revision Feb-2010

The charts below provide the data used in my analysis of the Phosphorous loading in the French River. I recognize that some of the data is not as scientific as I would like, however, it does provide us with a better understanding of what influences can be ruled out as well as which need to be considered.

To benefit those reading this report I have provided a brief explanation of how the data was collected so that weaker data collection methods are recognized. Where available Environment Canada data was used or cross checked to ensure accuracy of data.

A). The first table provides the maximum water temperature reached in any given season. This temperature is recorded from a thermometer located at a depth of 4 feet on the east side of my dock. Readings were taken at regular intervals after sunset but only the seasonal maximums were noted and dated. Water temperature is a result of hours of sun shine, air temperatures, and water flow rates. The table would indicate that maximum water temperature was reach during a similar time period in each of the three sample years.


YEAR Month and week maximum temperature was  reached Actual Temperature reading Celsius
2006 July 12 -19 27.0
2007 August 6- 13 25.6
2008 August 22-29 25.0
2009 August 14-21 25.6

B. This table provides the annual winter season snowfall by year taken form October to May. It would accurate by +/_ 10%. This measurement can assist in understating the impact on spring runoff.


YEAR Snowfall in cm
2007 104
2008 200
2009 304
Year to date 2010 Jan. 26th. 28


C). This table records monthly rainfall in centimeters (rounded to nearest .25). I was able to compare my data to Environment Canada Data and expect an accuracy of +/- 10%. I have also included fall water roll over dates.


MONTH 2007 rainfall  cm 2008 2009
May 5.5 6.75 8.0
June 6.25 11.25 11.5
July 7.0 5.5 10.5
August 6.0 15.0 10.5
September 3.25 8.0 3.75
Total for period 28 46.5 44.25
Roll over date Oct. 12th. Oct. 5th. Oct. 4th.


1). Rainfall events are important as they impact flows from Nipissing. For example;

If watershed soil conditions are very wet, or during initial spring melt conditions Lake Nipissing may rise by 4 times the amount of rainfall received.  This in turn can increase French River flow rates by 100 cubic meters per second. This increase in flow rate takes 1 day to reach the Wolseley Bay area, 3 to 5 days to reach Dry Pine Bay and 4 to 8 days to reach Hartley Bay. The Hartley Bay area is also affected by waters from the Pickerel and Wanapitei rivers and over a twelve month period can see water level changes as high as four meters.


2).  Fall roll over dates, signaled by a sudden overnight drop in water temperature and a darkening of water color, are important as they might show if nutrients are brought up from river sludge on or about this date. These roll over events have precipitated or increased algal blooms in all 3 years.  The 2007 event proved to be blue green.



D). This table provides the average monthly temperatures experience each year. This data was taken from my outside weather station, which has an accuracy of +/- 10% it was compared to the Environment Canada data and so is quite accurate. The data is obtained by recording daily highs and recording them as 10 day averages. Each month has 3 sets of averages, in months of 31 days the last set includes the 11th. Reading. February is also so adjusted. The 3 sets of monthly averages are then averaged by month to give the resulting table. The 5 year average includes the years from 2005 and 2006.


MONTH 5 year Yearly Average 2007 2008 2009
May 16.4 19.0 15.5 15.8
June 23.8 25.2 22.3 21.9
July 24.9 26.6 24.6 22.1
August 23.6 25.3 23.8 22.6
September 19.3 21.6 19.0 20.3
October 10.7 15.0 11.0 9.7


From all four of the above charts comments were added to both the summary report as well as the report that details the individual sample location.



FrenchRiver Stewardship Council Water Sampling Points Revision Feb-2010[1]

2008 French River sampling results for Phosphorus
Sample point
Location Low High Average Secchi Comments
French River main channel 11.8 30.7 16.7 3.3 2008 high levels recorded May 30th.
Five Finger Bay near Hall Is. 10.4 36 15.2 3.3 2008 high levels recorded May 30th.
Sturgeon Bay 12.5 37.6 22.1 2.6 2008 high levels recorded April 19th.
        The May 30th samples were also high.
Woseley Bay outflow 10.2 29.6 15.8 2.5 2008 high levels recorded May 30th.
North Channel by Ouellette Rapids 9 16.1 11.6 3.1 2008 high levels May 25th.
Ranger Bay @ Lower Sturgeon 9.6 23.6 14.7 2.1 2008 high levels recorded June 8th.
Ranger Bay at north channel 9.5 16.2 12.5 2.5 2008 high levels recorded June 8th.
18 mile bay @ Cow Bay 8.6 16.1 12.7 2.4 2008 high levels recorded June 8th.
North Channel at Meshaw Falls 10.4 15.1 13.6  
Bakers Bay in Dry Pine Bay 10.2 19.6 13.9 3.4 2008 high levels recorded October 5th.
Dry Pine Bay from Murdock 9.5 15.1 13.1 3
Pickerel River 12.5 17.4 14.7  
Ox Bay by green Island 12.8 16.9 14.2   2008 high levels recorded May 12th.
Wanapitei River outflow to French 13.2 19.9 15.1   2008 high levels recorded May 12th.
Phosphorus levels are used to determine nutrient loading which also contributes to algae growth.
If phosphorus levels increase throughout the season it is important to ascertain their impact on algae blooms.
Secchi readings refer to a depth in meters which represents water clarity at that sample point.
Samples are taken at these Secchi reading depths to reduce false total phosphorous readings.
In addition samples are screened to eliminate zooplankton contamination.