Stewardship of the French River Watershed

November 2012

Submitted by the FRSC Communications Committee

Lake Nipissing and the French River watershed in Northern Ontario, was created more than ten thousand years ago when the last ice-age receded and left a maze of rivers and small lakes. The vast 19,100 square kilometre Northern Ontario Watershed has a long and rich history for Canadians having once been used as a major link to Georgian Bay along Canada’s historic fur trade and Voyageur route. The 110 km French River became a Canadian Heritage River in 1986. For more information see Canadian Heritage River System website

The French River Stewardship Council is a not-for-profit organization committed to promote an ecologically healthy watershed while ensuring environmental, economic and social sustainability. The French River Stewardship Council is a strong, vibrant, and sustainable organization which reports on the state of the watershed, leads watershed planning activities and promotes best management practices.

Impacts to aquatic ecosystem health in the French River are urban development, agriculture, forestry, hydroelectric development and fisheries.

Lakeshore development also disrupts shoreline habitat and contributes nutrient loading from septic systems or landscape alteration to lakes. Fertilizers are a significant source of nutrients (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorus) to surface waters and therefore lead to nutrient enrichment in lakes and streams. Nutrient enrichment results in increased algae and plant growth, which in turn can lead to nuisance algae blooms, taste and odour in water sources and to oxygen depletion. Low oxygen can occur in rivers and streams when the plants decay at the end of the season or under ice, at night in shallow waters when plants consume, not produce oxygen, or in the deep waters of lakes, where algae that settle to the bottom waters decay and consume essential oxygen for cold-water fish species and lake bottom organisms.

Pesticides can be toxic to aquatic life, leading to direct mortality in invertebrates and fish, if they accumulate sufficiently or are present in high enough concentrations in surface runoff. Suspended sediments reach surface waters due to agricultural soil disturbance and lead to turbid water and increased sediment deposition, which deteriorates aquatic habitat and has direct negative effects on fish. Pathogens originating from livestock operations pose a risk to drinking water resources.

Hydroelectric development can have effects on fish habitat; can alter water temperature, reduce capacity to transport sediment, changes to the ice regime, and water level fluctuations.

Foster Stewardship by encouraging individuals to be good stewards of the watershed. Be an ambassador for the French River watershed by promoting our vision and mission. Become a member!

Tidbits of information

Did you know when Lake Nipissing is lowered one centimetre over one day; the French River may rise by over 48 centimetres. If watershed soil conditions are very wet, Lake Nipissing may rise four times the amount of rainfall received. During the boating season, the Lake Nipissing water level may fluctuate up to half a metre.

During the initial spring melt, inflows into the French River can increase by 100 cubic metres per second within four days in the Dry Pine Bay area, resulting in a water level rise of 60 centimetres on the river. An adjustment of the water levels at the French River dams affects Wolseley Bay in one day, Dry Pine Bay in three to five days, and Hartley Bay in four to eight days, depending on weather conditions.

During the boating season, Wolseley Bay water levels may vary 1.85 metres. Dry Pine Bay levels may vary 2.3 metres. The Hartley Bay water level is affected by the French River, the Pickerel River and the Wanapitei River. Water levels may vary as much as four metres during a 12-month period. Wow, this is one hell of a drop in water levels!

Date Added: November 17, 2012 | Comments Off | Filed under: News — Tags: — webedit @ 7:38 am