Water Quality

The Watershed

Lake Nipissing and the French River drain a huge area. The vast Sturgeon River-Lake Temagami watershed is the primary source, but there are others such as the Veuve River (which flows into Cache Bay), the South River that drains from the north-west side of Algonquin Park , and numerous smaller creeks such as Chippewa and Duchesnay Creeks in North Bay. The city of North Bay is the largest municipality with a water treatment plant on Lake Nipissing, but there are many other communities such as Sturgeon Falls that discharge effluent into the water. Large agricultural areas exist west of Sturgeon Falls in the Verner area and south of North Bay, west of Powassan. Everything entering Lake Nipissing eventually finds its way down the French River. While the water in the French River may appear clear and inviting, river water (or any ground source water) should be treated before drinking or washing vegetables. Also remember that our furry and feathered friends and fish deposit their wastes in the water regularly. Diseases like giardiasis (beaver fever) may be prevalent at any time.

We need to do our part in ensuring that any waste water leaving our cottages has had the proper time for harmful bacteria to be eliminated and for nutrients to be absorbed by vegetation. And we need to be vigilant in protecting ourselves, families, and friends from the potential ill-effects of consuming contaminated water. The water in the river has tested "good" for many years and we want it to remain so. The UFRCA has been actively involved in testing water  for e-coli and other contaminants and factors such as dissolved O2, clarity, etc.

If you have a concern about the river or lake water, please contact the Board.
The UFRCA is now a member of the French River Stewardship Council.


French River Stewardship Council

Protecting Lake Nipissing

Greater Lake NipissingStewardship Council

Is This the Future of the French River?

Joe Dippong of the French River Stewardship Council writes in a recent e-mail:
The attached articles describe the process which has begun on several of our local area lakes and on the French River. The science is well understood but we continue to lack the political will to begin the solutions. We all need to draw attention to what is really happening and not claim that somehow this is a natural process. It is not. It is the result of human impact on our environment.
Joe Dippong
August 24, 2009
The following article is from the North Bay Nugget, August 19, 2009. The Blue-green algal bloom in mid-August closed beaches and other water-related activities and uses.
Blue-Green Algae Bloom Present in Callander Bay
Press release from North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit

0 views (7 Kb)
The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit wishes to advise that a bloom of blue-green algae was detected in the on Callander Bay on the South and East shores near South Beach on Main Street South, and at the North Bay Yacht Club on Greenwood Road. This assessment occurred following requests from the Municipality of Callander. “Those area residents who receive their drinking water from the local municipal water supply are not at risk because the municipal treatment process will remove blue-green algae and the toxins.” said Peter Jekel, Director of Environmental Health. “However, owners of private water systems should avoid using the water from Callander Bay because home treatment devices will NOT destroy the toxins.” The Municipality of Callander is cooperating fully with the Ministry of the Environment and the Health Unit in terms of advice and notice to the public. The operator of Callander’s water treatment plant has activated all of the appropriate steps for the safety of the municipal water supply.
While the blue-green algae may not show the presence of toxins, there is always the risk that toxins could be produced. These toxins may stay in the water for up to three weeks after the algae bloom is gone.
The Health Unit advises residents of Callander Bay and any visitors to the area to take the following precautions for three weeks after the bloom has disappeared:
Avoid swimming and other water sport activities that could increase the risk of algae material and toxins contacting your skin or being swallowed.
Avoid using water from Callander Bay for pets.
Owners of private water systems should avoid using the water from Callander Bay for drinking, cooking and bathing. Use an alternate source of water for these purposes. NOTE- Boiling the water or using home water treatment devices will NOT destroy the toxins.
Fact Sheets with more information about Blue-Green Algae can be found at www.healthunit.bizin the HOT TOPICS box. The Health Unit will provide further information as it becomes available.
What is it?
Blue-green algae, known as ‘pond scum’, are primitive microscopic bacteria that live in fresh water. They are usually hard to see, but during hot weather, they can rapidly grow to form a large mass, called a bloom.
Why is an algae bloom a problem?
Toxins can irritate the skin and, if ingested, cause diarrhoea and vomiting. At high enough levels, the toxins may cause liver and nervous system damage.
Where is it found?
Blue-green algae thrive in warm, shallow, undisturbed water that receives a lot of sunlight and is rich in phosphorus and nitrogen. Animal and human waste and fertilizers contain phosphorus and nitrogen.
What causes it?
Blue-green algae blooms are most often the result of agricultural runoff, lawn fertilizers and improperly located septic systems. These cause increased amounts phosphorus and nitrogen to enter lakes and streams that provide nutrients.
What to do
If you see what you think is an algae bloom, take precautions below and call the Ministry of Environment Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060.
Avoid using the water for drinking, bathing, or showering.
Do not allow children, pets, or livestock to swim in the water or drink the water.
If skin contact does occur, wash with soap and water or rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.
Do not boil the water because boiling it may release more toxins into the water.  
Don’t cook with the water because food may absorb toxins from the water during cooking.
Do not treat the water with a disinfectant like bleach. This may break open algae cells and release toxins into the water.
Be cautious about eating fish caught in water where blue-green algae blooms occur. Do not eat the liver, kidneys, or other organs of fish caught in the water.
Do not rely on water jug filtration systems, as they do not protect against the toxins.
Posted: 8/30/2009

Centre for Sustainable Watersheds

The Centre for Sustainable Watershed is a non-profit organization that “has become a resource for individuals, lake associations and other community water stewardship groups who are interested in protecting and conserving lakes and watercourses across Canada. They have also developed a number of tools to help share information and build capacity so that community can play a larger role in ensuring sustainable use of shared resources."