The District Municipality of Muskoka is advising that five lakes in Muskoka will be added to the vulnerable lakes schedule and one will be removed bringing the total to 22 water bodies in Muskoka currently listed as potentially vulnerable from a recreational water quality perspective.
The five lakes to be added are:
- Fawn Lake in the municipalities of Huntsville and Bracebridge due to confirmed blue-green algae bloom in 2021
- Mary Lake in the municipality of Huntsville, due to confirmed blue-green algae blooms – 2021/2022
- Menominee Lake in the municipalities of Huntsville and Lake of Bays sue to confirmed algae blooms – 2021
- Paint Lake in Lake of Bays also due to confirmed blue-green algae blooms – 2021
- Muldrew Lake in Gravenhurst due to a confirmed blue-green algae bloom – 2022
Barron’s Lake in Georgian Bay would be removed because it no longer shows a long-term trend of phosphorus concentrations over 20 ug/L
The District of Muskoka undertakes annual recreational water quality monitoring as part of its Lake System Health Program used to identify lakes that are considered vulnerable based on water quality indicators such as blue-green algae blooms as confirmed by Public Health, the Province, or increasing phosphorus levels.
“Lakes that are considered vulnerable are listed as a schedule in the Muskoka Official Plan [MOP] and are subject to the enhanced protection policies of the MOP until they meet qualifications for removal, or a [District led] causation study has been completed which determines that the cause(s) of the water quality indicator(s) is not related to development. The MOP also contains specific policies relating to how lakes are added or removed from the list based on annual monitoring results,” states a report compiled by District planning staff for the District’s Community and Planning Services Committee held on March 23, 2023.
The last update to the schedule was done in 2021 “which added 10 new lakes, modified the indicators present for Three Mile Lake and removed Peninsula Lake,” according to the report. It also states that a 2022 update to the schedule was not done in 2022 due to delays in causation studies for five of the vulnerable lakes.
A public information process will be held to inform stakeholders such as lake associations of the changes, “however it should be noted that staff immediately start applying the enhanced protection policies of the MOP to development applications once a lake is identified as vulnerable, in order to implement best known science and ensure a precautionary approach.”
Existing schedule of potentially vulnerable water bodies to be updated, below:
In 2019 the Province approved Official Plan Amendment 47 regarding Lake System Health policies. “The revised policies require an annual review and update of lakes that are potentially vulnerable from a recreational water quality perspective based on scientifically based criteria,” notes the report.
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