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Development of the Tay River Watershed Plan  June 1, 1999

Work Plan

The Tay River watershed drains the western portion of the Rideau River watershed and is the third largest tributary of the Rideau River.  The Tay River is 95 km in length and drains an area of 456 km square.  The large lake system draining into the Tay River represents the headwaters of the Rideau waterway and encompasses Bobís, Crow, Eagle, Carnahan, Long and Legget lakes, etc.

The Tay River watershed plan was initiated as a result of a strategic planning exercise completed for the Town of Perth and surrounding municipalities.  One of the recommendations of this plan was to conduct a watershed plan on the Tay River for the purpose of protecting the Tay River ecosystem.  Community action has instigated the watershed planning process with the aim of improving the overall health of the Tay River environment. Community meetings have indicated the issues of water levels, water quality, recreation, tourism and economy, beavers, etc. as some to be addressed in the watershed plan.

The purpose and scope of the project is described in the Terms of Reference approved by the Tay River Round Table.  In order to efficiently and effectively complete the watershed plan, the following work plan outlines the systematic progression of the study, and describes the required technical studies in greater detail than the terms of reference.  A detailed description of the components, timing of the plan and a preliminary break down of costs is described below.

The work plan is a product of input by the various agencies and committees associated with this project: the technical advisory committee (TAC), Round Table and Executive committee.

The Tay River watershed plan is adopting an ecosystem approach to planning, incorporating the needs of the environment, the economy and the watershed community.  The watershed residents, visitors, interest groups, schools, governments, etc. will be solicited for involvement and input in to the watershed planning process.  The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority is assisting the watershed community with the co-ordination and facilitation of the project.

It is estimated that the watershed planning process will be completed by the spring of 2001 and will cost approximately $323,000.

As outlined in the Terms of Reference, the following is a detailed description of the work required to complete the Tay River Watershed Plan.

Stage 1:  Setting the Stage

Much of stage one has been completed.  The Technical Advisory Committee, Round Table and Executive Committee have been struck.  The TAC is composed of technical staff from the various agencies, governments, municipalities etc. interested in the plan.  The Round Table represents a cross section of the watershed community with both agency representation, governments, municipalities, businesses, interest groups, members of the public, etc. composing this committee.  A list of interested members of the public has been compiled as well.  All of the above have commented on the Terms of Reference.

In order to keep costs low, to maintain the proper scope of the project and to attempt to achieve the suggested time guidelines, existing information will be used whenever possible to satisfy information requirements.  Field research will be conducted only where deemed essential for the needs of the plan.

Stage 2:  Preparing the Plan

Phase 1:  To Understand Watershed Functions and Status

The collection and review of pertinent information is a key element in establishing the first leg of the watershed plan.  Existing, general information is used in favour of detailed, expensive fact finding.  Below is a description of the data that must be gathered.

This phase of the project will begin June 1999.  Consultants to be used will be selected as a team and will be engaged as soon as possible.  Each section indicates when the component will be completed.

Task 1.  LAND USE


    To establish existing and proposed patterns of development in the watershed

    To establish present land use and land use capability in the watershed

    To establish land ownership in the Tay River corridor and public land ownership in the watershed,
    and assess its usefulness for recreation purposes

    To establish the extent of recreation and recreation potential in the watershed

    To characterize the cultural and natural heritage resources of the watershed, outlining how the watershed
    has developed and changed over time

    To outline the jurisdictional responsibilities of the resource management and planning agencies within the watershed

  Details (LAND USE):

  Responsibility (LAND USE):  

     This component will be completed by both the community, RVCA staff and consultants.

     A land use planning consultant will be hired to engage in compiling the land use data, development trends and forecasts, information on zoning by-laws and Official Plans, compile maps illustrating the OP and zoning by-law designations on a watershed basis, determine the extent of land use, compile information on all infrastructure, their use and effectiveness, determine the jurisdictional responsibilities of the resource management (and planning) agencies and groups and will compile information addressing the effectiveness of land management practices.  The consultant will gather background information from whatever sources available to attempt to determine the rate at which seasonal cottages have been converted to permanent homes.  This information will be compiled in the land use component of the Interim Report.

     RVCA staff, through the use of summer students (if available), will compile information on the recreational use and potential of the watershed.  Mapping of all recreation opportunities, public land use, etc. will be completed as will a report describing the findings.

     Members of the community will be responsible for compiling information on the historical and heritage (both natural and human induced) features of the watershed.  This will be accomplished through a subcommittee of the Round Table or a local historical group assigned the task specifically for the watershed plan.  A report compiling the findings will be included as part of the land use component of the Interim Report.

     Due to the arduous (and expensive) nature of the task, lake associations will be asked to assist in this component by determining, through door to door survey, the extent to which seasonal cottages have been converted to permanent dwellings. This can be done by each interested lake association.

  Timing (LAND USE):

     This component will be initiated during the summer of 1999.  This component will be completed first as its findings will be beneficial to the completion of the other components.



    To determine the location, extent and accuracy of wetland cover, designation and evaluation

    To determine the role of wetlands on an individual and watershed basis and their significance on watershed health

    To characterize the history of wetlands within the watershed

  Details (WETLANDS):

  • Assess the level of information pertaining to wetlands.  If necessary, using the updated wetland assessment, assess the accuracy of current wetland classification.  Using the Ministry of Natural Resources Wetland Evaluation Version 3, reassess wetland evaluations where necessary and evaluate unevaluated wetlands where possible
  • Using information from the Ministry of Natural Resources, air photos, maps etc., map the location of all wetlands.  Distinguish between provincially significant, locally significant and unevaluated wetlands.
  • Based on wetland evaluations and observations, describe the role and significance of each wetland on the hydrologic water cycle, as habitat, as groundwater recharge/discharge, for flood attenuation, etc.  Describe the role of all wetlands in the watershed re: these functions.  Describe the role of wetlands in contributing to the health of the watershed.
  • Using information available from the Ministry of Natural resources, Federation of Ontario Naturalists, air photos, etc., determine the history of wetlands (trends) within the watershed, concentrating on changes in wetlands in the last 10-15 years.  In conjunction with the findings in the Land Use section, assess, in general terms, the impact of development on the integrity of wetlands and wetland complexes.
  • Prepare the Wetlands chapter of the Tay River Watershed Plan - Interim Report

  Responsibility (WETLANDS):  

    This task will be combined with the ecology section.  See Below.

  Timing (WETLANDS):  

    This task will begin as soon as possible.  Any wetland re-evaluations or new evaluations will be completed during the summer.  The report will be completed by mid to late fall.

Task 3:  ECOLOGY


    To characterize the state of the environment of the watershed

    To characterize the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and their processes within the watershed

    To determine the sensitivity of the ecosystem to change and human impact

  Details (ECOLOGY):

  • Map vegetative cover of the watershed including wetlands, forested areas, urban, transitional, agricultural, etc.  If possible, through the use of air photos, landsat imagery, historical records, etc., make comparisons to vegetative cover in the past to help identify trends in land use, management and the general impacts of human activity.
  • Using existing information from MNR and other sources, identify and map specific habitats, spawning areas, migratory routes, etc.  Compile and categorize a species list for the watershed.  Assess the habitat potential for species and the potential to enhance species based on habitat (e.g. fish habitat enhancement potential, endangered species habitat enhancement potential).
  • Using existing MNR and other information, characterize the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems of the watershed in terms of biodiversity and relative condition (health).  Compare with other watersheds in Eastern Ontario to assess relative significance and uniqueness.
  • Through analysis of existing information, describe the ecological features and functions at work within the watershed and their sensitivity to changing watershed conditions - natural and human induced
  • Through stream assessments, netting and creel census, determine species composition, habitat type and potential for the Tay River and tributaries from Bobís Lake to the mouth.  Complete a report (with maps) outlining the findings of the stream assessment.
  • Through field surveys (in conjunction with stream assessments), determine the extent and role of natural and man-made obstructions on ecosystem health e.g dams and beaver dams.  In conjunction with the surface water quantity component, assess the present dam operation strategy of the watershed in terms of impacts on aquatic health.
  • Identify and define ecological indicators necessary to assess relative health of the watershed and to be used in monitoring efforts to determine changes in ecological health.
  • In conjunction with the water quality section, conduct benthic monitoring to determine species composition and overall relative health.
  • Where possible, involve watershed community in monitoring ecological features (e.g. bullfrogs, birds, etc.)
  • Prepare the Ecology Chapter of the Tay River Watershed Plan Interim Report

  Responsibility (ECOLOGY):  

    This component will be primarily the responsibility of a consultant.  The exception will be to the data collection efforts on stream assessments and fish inventories which will be handled through a partnership between the Ministry of Natural Resources and the RVCA.

    The stream assessment will use students hired by the RVCA through its watershed planning partners.  The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) will be responsible for training, supplying the equipment necessary to complete the task, and providing technical support etc.

    The watershed planning team will be responsible for identifying and setting up opportunities for members of the watershed community to participate in monitoring activities throughout the watershed with the aim of both educating the public and collecting useful data for the watershed plan.  These opportunities will be identified as the study progresses.

  Timing (ECOLOGY):  

    This component will commence in the summer (stream assessment).  The paper data gathering exercise will commence in fall once all field data has been collected.  The task will be completed by mid to late fall.



    To characterize surface and base flows throughout the watershed

    To identify areas of flood potential

    To determine the role of human impacts on the hydrologic regime of the watershed


  • From the RVCA, Parks Canada and other sources, compile historic flow records from existing and previous stream gauges
  • Install new gauges where necessary to obtain more detailed information on stream and base flow (see also groundwater component)
  • Describe present dam operation and water management strategies within the watershed and provide a brief description as to how water management has changed over time.  Assess the efficiency and effectiveness of this management from a watershed and environmental health perspective
  • Using existing backwater models, define the hydraulic capacity of the river at key locations
  • In conjunction with the ecology component, identify and describe human impediments to stream flow (including dams, bridges, road crossings etc.).  Attempt to describe the impact of human activity on changes to the hydrologic regime of the watershed (including impacts of development on flooding).  Assess the extent of surface water taking permits throughout the watershed and their impact on aquatic health and the hydrologic regime
  • In conjunction with the ecology component, locate and map known beaver dams and other natural impediments to flow throughout the watershed and assess their impact on the hydrologic and hydraulic regime of the watershed.
  • Provide estimates of flood potential in the area from Glen Tay to Christie Lake (through historical records, photography, anecdotal information, etc)
  • Record and map the extent of flooding based on present flood plain mapping. Produce cursory mapping where development pressures exist in suspected flood prone areas
  • In conjunction with the groundwater component, determine the water budget of the watershed
  • Prepare the surface water quantity component for the Tay River Watershed Plan Interim Report

  Responsibility (SURFACE WATER QUANTITY):

    A consultant will be hired to complete this component of the Interim Report.  RVCA staff will be responsible for installing any new gauges during the summer.


    This component will be initiated and completed in the fall.



    To characterize surface water quality throughout the watershed

    To characterize the extent of water quality impairment

    To identify sources of water quality impairment and determine the range of human activities to which water quality impairment may be attributed.


  • Compile historical records of water quality data
  • Establish a monitoring program to sample water quality on the main river, tributaries and lakes.  Water samples will be taken bi-weekly for the following parameters:  E. coli bacteria, phosphorus, nutrients (TKN), ammonia, metals, dissolved oxygen, temperature, total suspended solids, conductivity, pH, toxic substances
  • Using provincial water quality guidelines, assess results from water sampling to determine risks to human and aquatic health
  • If sufficient data exists, identify how water quality has changed over time
  • Using air photos, landsat, field observations, information from the land use component, government sources, etc. attempt to correlate land uses with water quality impairment.  Attempt to identify sources of water quality impairment
  • Using the Hinselhoff index, conduct invertebrate sampling twice per year at specific water sampling locations to assess health of the watercourse, identify stresses and to complement/verify surface water quality sampling findings
  • Determine the trophic state of the watercourse
  • Determine the requirements for (data, labour, costs) and availability of information for applying existing Trophic State Modeling to the watershed lakes
  • Prepare the water quality chapter of the Tay River Watershed Plan - Interim Report

  Responsibility (SURFACE WATER QUALITY):

    This task will be completed by the RVCA with assistance from the watershed planning partners.  The Lanark Health Unit will assist with analysis of results as they pertain to health issues, the MNR will assist with the analysis of results as it pertains to the health of the aquatic environment.  If necessary, a consultant will be hired to assess the findings of the macro invertebrate sampling efforts or to perform other analyses as required.  MoE stated they may be able to provide lab analysis of water samples and can provide the information on water taking permits and land fill water sampling results.


    The costs associated with this component reflect lab fees, purchase of sampling equipment, truck use, etc.


    This component will be undertaken throughout the summer.  The final report will be completed by mid to late fall.



    To describe the groundwater conditions of the watershed

    To determine how the groundwater/surface water exchange affects aquatic health

  Details (GROUNDWATER):

  • Using geological, soil and other available mapping, produce watershed specific mapping illustrating surficial, bedrock geology, potentiometric surface, groundwater recharge and discharge zones
  • In conjunction with the surface water quantity component, determine the water budget for the watershed
  • Install and monitor gauges (seepage metres) to measure groundwater discharge at key locations throughout the watershed (where funding permits)
  • Characterize the significance of groundwater/surface water exchange in maintaining or limiting the health of the aquatic ecosystem
  • Compile existing information, well records, studies and data on groundwater quantity and quality, describing the general abundance and quality of groundwater resources.  Supplement with well sampling where feasible.
  • In general terms, describe the role of land use activities on groundwater quality and quantity (including impacts of landfill sites).   Cite specific examples if applicable.
  • Prepare the groundwater chapter of the Tay River Watershed Plan - Interim Report

  Responsibility (GROUNDWATER):

    The component will be completed by the Hydrogeologist of the RVCA.  RVCA staff will encourage watershed residents to participate in the *Baseline Water Well Testing Program.


    The cost of this component will used to subsidize (up to 50%) the public participation in the Baseline Water Well Testing Program.


    This component will commence immediately and will be completed by mid to late fall.

Task 7:  ECONOMY


    To characterize the economy of the watershed community

    To determine the role of the Tay River basin in the local economy and tourism

  Details (ECONOMY):

  • In conjunction with the land use component, compile existing information from county planning offices, municipalities, and other sources to describe the demographic and economic profile of the Tay River basin. This will include describing economic and demographic trends in the past and provide projection estimates for the future (potential)
  • Based on existing information and studies where available, describe the role of the natural environment (fishing, cottaging, hunting, etc) on the local tourism and economy of the Tay River basin.

  Responsibility (ECONOMY):

    This task will be completed in conjunction with the land use component and will be completed by the same land use consultant.

  Cost (ECONOMY):

    The cost of this component will be combined with the cost of the Land Use task.

  Timing (ECONOMY):     This will commence in the fall and be completed by mid to late fall.

Task 8:  PRODUCTION OF THE INTERIM REPORT - Functions and Status of the Tay River Watershed

    The information collected in the above tasks will be compiled in report form, describing the way in which the Tay River watershed environment functions, its components and how they inter-relate.  Each chapter will be written by the agency/consultant/individual responsible for that component.  Integration of components is key in providing a synopsis of the interconnectedness of the watershed functions and to illustrate manís role and influence in the environmental health of the watershed.  A condensed version of these individual reports will be compiled by the project manager to allow a more user friendly, inexpensive version of the findings of the data compilation phase.  These will be made available in Word and Word Perfect formats.


    RVCA staff will compile the findings of all component reports into a comprehensive summary document.  The Interim Report will describe the functions and inter-relationships of the workings of the Tay River watershed.  This report will be written in plain language.


    Where possible, all information will be collected and recorded on Ontario Base Maps (OBMís).  A compilation of these maps delineating the watershed boundary will be provided by the RVCA.  All data collection sampling locations will be georeferenced using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) where possible.

  Responsibility (BASE MAPPING):

    The responsibility of supplying a base map of the Tay River basin will be borne by the RVCA.  This will be accomplished by compiling OBM base maps into a watershed map.  These will be available to all those responsible for completing the component tasks.  Where and when possible, members of the watershed community e.g. schools, will be retained to assist with mapping of the study.


    The cost of the map compilation will be to correct any base mapping errors (those found in the OBM bases).

Stage 2:  Preparing the Plan

Phase II:  Formulating the Watershed Management Plan

Phase I efforts lead to understanding the watershed components, their functions and inter-relationships, i.e. what are things like now.  Phase II represents the formulation of the watershed strategy, including an idea of what things should be like in the future and what steps are involved in getting there.  Through public consultation and the co-ordinated efforts of agencies, municipalities and interest groups, the watershed management strategy will be developed.


    The watershed vision will identify goals for a healthy and sustainable watershed.  Community involvement is key to developing a comprehensive management plan.  Government agencies, landowners, interest groups, and other watershed stakeholders will be encouraged to participate in the watershed planning process.  This can be through the traditional means of participating on the Round Table and/or Executive Committees, or through attendance and participation at open houses and public meetings.  

    Visioning workshops will be held after the Interim Report has been completed (i.e. after the present status of the watershed is determined).  For these workshops, people will be asked to describe their "ideal" or "perfect" watershed.  All efforts will be made to incorporate existing visioning and strategic planning exercises into these findings.

    The visioning exercise will be conducted by a professional facilitator or local individual with facilitation expertise.  All stakeholders will be responsible for determining the goals and objectives of the plan.  RVCA staff will, with input and assistance from all committees, draft the goals and objectives based on the findings of the visioning exercise.  The Round Table will be responsible for planning and hosting the Open House.


    Information compiled from the visioning exercises will be used to formulate goals and objectives for the watershed.  These goals and objectives will be a reflection of the issues as stated early in the watershed planning process and will be the focus of the watershed plan.  The goals and objectives will reflect the ultimate goal of maintaining or improving the overall health of the watershed.  Public consultation and committee input is required to determine these goals.  Once compiled and accepted by the committees, the general public will have the opportunity to review these at the first public Open House.

Stage 3:  Production of the Management Plan

The Watershed Management Plan will consist of a statement of the objectives, as defined in the study, and will outline a strategy in which those objectives can be met.  The Plan will focus on activities and actions that individuals, groups and other members of the watershed community can do to improve the health of the watershed.  The plan will also focus on the future and outline ways in which municipal planning may influence watershed health and achieve the objectives of the plan and of the watershed community.

The Watershed Management Plan will be completed by the RVCA and other partners as defined though the process. An initial draft version will be completed and reviewed by all committees.  A public open house will be held once the draft plan is written and reviewed.  Comments, feedback and input will be requested and incorporated into the final document.  Alternative types of final report production can be explored (e.g. video, CD Rom, etc) and recommended if need and costs allow.


    All partners will be asked to formally adopt the plan once completed.  In this way, the goals and objectives of the plan can be realized through the commitment to implementation.


    Once the strategies of the watershed plan are complete, an extensive evaluation and monitoring program must be put into place to identify the effectiveness of those strategies.  Ecological indicators will be identified and chosen to indicate how the health of the watershed has improved with the implementation of the watershed plan recommendations.  A more detailed monitoring plan including costs will be outlined as a portion of the final plan.