Friends of the Tay Watershed
June 11, 2005
Introductory Message from Co-Chairs
The year 2005 is shaping up as "the year of the watershed". The Ontario government has recognized that water is best managed on a watershed basis and is ready to introduce new legislation – the Source Water Protection Act -- that outlines new water management rules based on watersheds. Watersheds will be managed by the local conservation authority and new funding will help them with the new roles and responsibilities. In our area, Rideau Valley will operate with the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority to manage the combined sub watersheds of the two authorities. All the work that has been and is being done in our watershed will serve the watershed well under this new management system. Look for the legislation to be passed early in the fall.
The Friends of the Tay Watershed (FoTW) continues to operate as a community-based umbrella organization for the watershed and to take a "big picture" look at what is happening. The ‘Friends’ support a range of water-resource activities throughout the watershed, monitor and try to link related programs, in order to avoid duplication, and look for opportunities for partnerships and co-operative efforts. The ‘Friends’ also provide input to provincial legislation, on behalf of this area. ‘We all live downstream from something and somebody lives downstream from us’ - and a watershed approach is the most effective way to deal with both threats and opportunities.
Membership in the FoTW continues to grow, with expanded linkages with lake associations and other organisations. Representation is also being maintained from all parts of the watershed, including the largest centre – the Town of Perth (accounting for almost half of the members – fittingly, given that Perth relies mainly on the Tay for its water and accounts for about half of the watershed population). If you have not yet renewed your membership for 2005, please consider it.
The FoTW, in co-operation with local lake associations, has received two grants recently: one from the Lanark Stewardship Council and a second from the Rideau Lake Environmental Foundation. We also have applied for funding from Trillium and from the TD Foundation (see more details under "Lake Planning Initiative").
Carol Dillon and David Taylor, Co-Chairs
Report on Activities January to June 2005
The FoTW is directed by a Board of 18 volunteers, representing all areas of the watershed and related organisations and a broad range of expertise. The Board welcomes one new member this year - Colin Stephenson from Glen Tay, who brings a wealth of experience to the responsibilities of Treasurer and Webmaster. (See our web site for this year’s list of Directors at www.tayriver.org/fotw_bod.html). The Board has met on January 27 and April 27 this year.
The main objective of the FoTW is to support the implementation of the Tay Watershed Management Plan, which was published in 2002. Annually, a joint committee of the FoTW and Rideau Valley Conservation Authority review progress on the Plan’s recommendations with approximately 25 stakeholders with interests in the watershed. Gaps are identified where priority activities are required. The next stakeholder meeting is planned for the Fall of 2005. This year, the committee is also reviewing new issues that should be addressed, such as source water protection.
The development of lake management plans – or sub-watershed plans – is one of the key recommendations of the Tay Watershed Management Plan. Excellent progress is being made by several of our watershed lakes.
Such initiatives must be carried out mainly by the lake volunteers, but certain of the activities require funding. The Bobs and Crow Lakes group has been successful in obtaining a Trillium grant to support their lake management activities. In other areas of the watershed, a group of seven lakes (see list below), spearheaded by Karen Hunt and the Otty Lake Association, has also commenced a strong co-operative approach to developing their individual lake plans, with support from the RVCA. The FoTW has co-operated in applying for grants from several foundations. Donations have been received from Lanark Stewardship Council and from the Rideau Lake Environmental Foundation, and responses are expected in June from the Trillium Foundation and the TD Foundation. Tay Valley Township has agreed to provide accounting services for these funds.
Note:The ‘Core’ group in the lake planning initiative includes: Adam Lake; Long Lake
(the Long Lake beside the Upper Rideau Lake); Black Lake; Christie Lake; Pike Lake; Farren Lake; Little Silver & Rainbow Lakes; and Bennett & Fagan Lakes.
Long Lake Property Owners Association started a pilot project on data management and sharing in 2004 through a partnership with the Centre for Geographic Information Systems (CGIS) and Tay Valley Township. The project will provide access to township data and enable Lake Associations to enter their own lake-specific data, which will assist in the development of lake management plans. The project is currently in an evaluation stage.
Chris Stone, FoTW Board member, has done some excellent work on Tay water quality using data collected by the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority. Chris has created charts that show the progression of the Tay’s water quality from Bobs Lake to Port Elmsley. His conclusion is that the Tay and its lakes remain one of the healthiest waterways in eastern Ontario. However, the effects of human impact along the waterway are noticeable with some "hot spots" that exceed provincial and RVCA objectives for E.Coli, phosphorus and nitrogen. The charts and the full story are available on this website by clicking here for the original story and by clicking here for the recent update.
The FoTW in co-operation with RVCA is currently completing work on a newspaper tabloid to provide information on the watershed and create awareness about its benefits. The format is "user-friendly" with short articles and a watershed quiz. Freddie the Fish helps readers navigate the tabloid. Look for the tabloid this summer.
The FoTW, led by Chris Stone, in co-operation with Tay Valley and Lanark Highlands Townships and Valley Heartland Corporation, have produced a brochure outlining three interesting canoe routes in the Tay Watershed. This initiative is part of the FoTW's objective to encourage recreational use of our fine waterways. Copies of the brochure may be found at the Perth Chamber of Commerce or on this web site by clicking here.
This spring, the FoTW cooperated with the Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Perth to obtain a grant through Valley Heartland to produce a concept plan for a Tay riverside walk in Perth. The resulting plan, developed by Commonwealth Heritage Resource Management, provides a design and themes for an interesting "Tay Trail", between Last Duel Park and Haggart’s Dam. This summer the first theme signs will be placed, and a joint committee will be formed to guide the next stages of the Trail. The Perth Basin Committee is preparing an application to the Rideau Canal Office (under the 175th Anniversary activities) to assist in funding certain of the Trail structures located in the basin area.
There is a strong connection between the Tay Watershed and the Rideau Canal. Not only is the Tay River a large contributor to the Canal’s water, but the dam at the top of the Tay – at Bobs Lake – is controlled by the Rideau Canal Office in Smiths Falls. So, when the Rideau Canal has something to celebrate, so does the Tay Watershed. The Rideau River/Canal is already designated as a Canadian heritage river, and is currently in competition for a UNESCO World Heritage designation as well. Also, the Canal celebrates its 175th anniversary in 2007. All this attention means more opportunities to celebrate the connected waterways and economic benefits from increased attention and tourism. In April, the FoTW in co-operation with the Perth Chamber of Commerce hosted a presentation by Doug Stewart, Superintendent of the Rideau Canal to learn more about the plans for the celebrations and how Perth and the Tay Watershed may be involved and benefit. One outcome of this is the application for funds for the Tay Trail, mentioned above.
This program is co-ordinated with the Museum of Nature in Ottawa and local school boards. The FoTW helps to find interested watershed schools and create interest for the program. This year, Perth Collegiate has four teachers interested in the program and is working with museum staff.
In May, the FoTW accepted an offer by Board member Jim Humphrey, of Little Silver Lake, to take aerial photos of the watershed. The objective of this initiative, funded jointly by Jim and the RVCA, was to supplement a series of watershed photos and a video that Jim had taken in a 1999 flight. This collection of photos and video now provides coverage of a large part of the watershed lakes and streams from Port Elmsley and Beveridge Locks to Bobs and Crow Lakes. Some of these will be placed on the FoTW website.
Pitch-in is a national program presented each April when Canadians are asked to pitch in and clean up the environment. This year, the FoTW wrote to watershed schools encouraging a simple clean up of the schoolyard as a way to participate in this national program. Board member, Marilyn Devolin, has acted as liaison between FoTW and ecoPerth, the Perth Courier and local schools. She also organized a pitch-in of ‘moms and tots’ on the naturalized area opposite the Crystal Palace in Perth.
Once again, the FoTW took a booth at Maplefest at the end of April, 2005. The event provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the watershed and the FoTW association and to promote stewardship of the watershed. Despite the all-day rain this year, the event was again a success and a valuable part of the association’s outreach program.
FoTW is a member of the Steering Committee for this program, which assists home and cottage owners and farmers in upgrading wells and septic systems and improving shoreline and farmyard environments. The program has located funding again for this year and will continue to provide grants of up to $5,000.00 per landowner in the Tay and Rideau watersheds. However, the response from the Tay watershed has been very light. Information is available at 1-800-387 5304 or at www.rideauvalley.on.ca.
Periodically, the ‘Friends’ are asked to support other organizations in their quests for funding or other support for their activities. Letters or other forms of support have been provided to date this year to: The Centre for Sustainable Watersheds – for a funding application to EcoAction for a Community Water Stewardship program along the Rideau Canal; and Rideau Valley Conservation Authority - for the hiring of a summer student through HRDC; and, the Rideau River Round Table – for a Trillium grant on behalf of regional environmental organisations;
This month, the FoTW commenced a co-operative project with the Lanark County Camera Club to take photographs of the old mills and ruins of mills along the Tay River and Canal and its snye. The objective is to develop an archive of these sites, organise a local public display of the photos and, eventually, possibly an information document – such as a brochure or calendar. A list of mills and sites is being finalised. Board member Marilyn Devolin is starting the process of documenting the history of the mills.
This association, as with most other volunteer groups, has been faced in recent years with exorbitant increases in insurance premiums, of over 100%. Fortunately, the FoTW is able to meet these costs, although we have spent several months looking into alternatives. The costs pose a serious challenge to the survival of some volunteer groups in Ontario and Canada. We wonder if these charges are supported by insurance company costs – and believe that it is an issue that should be reviewed by the insurance companies – or, failing that, by government or consumer groups.
June 18, 2005 Bennett Lake Stakeholders Public Forum
July 9 Otty Lake AGM
July 23/24 Art of Being Green Festival, Lanark
July 31 Bobs and Crow Lakes AGM and Environmental Fair
We welcome feedback on the content of this newsletter, or on any other matter germane to the Friends of the Tay Watershed. You may contact our Board as follows:
By Mail: P.O. Box 2065, 57 Foster St., Perth, ON, K7H 3M9
On behalf of our Board of Directors –
have a pleasant summer on our watershed!