Lake Health Stewardship
Why is this important?
Maintaining excellent water quality was identified as the top area of importance to our members and the potential degradation of the quality of our water was cited as the number one concern. This is not surprising since Lake Health has both a direct and indirect affect on the enjoyment of waterfrontproperty owners.
A healthy lake is the foundation of what we all enjoy on Horseshoe Lake. We drink the water, swim in it, and value the fish and wildlife that lives in it. No matter the reason you own a property on Horseshoe Lake – recreation, nature, or even economic – lake health is the base.
Our properties are also an investment that we share with all the other property owners. As a shared resource the biggest risk to our collective investment is the health of our lake. We all enjoy all it has to offer in different ways, but in the same way, we all influence its health.
What you do on your property impacts the health of the lake, which in turn impacts everyone else.
So, it is imperative that we, as a lake-front community become educated as participants in maintaining the health of our lake, and are not inadvertently or unknowingly contributing to its degradation.
Recent analysis identified that by comparison, Horseshoe Lake is more vulnerable to the impacts of development than the 5 lakes immediately upstream and Gull Lake which is downstream.
Why is this?
Horseshoe Lake is a relatively small, shallow lake. It is densely developed and easily accessible. When compared to Mountain Lake, 12 Mile/Little Boshkung, Boshkung, Kushog and Gull Lakes, we have the:
• Lowest shoreline length, per property
• Lowest lake area, per property
• Lowest lake volume of water, per property
While we can’t control the depth of our lake and the volume of water, there are many things that we can control and theinformation and resources in this edition provides you with lots of information on how you can help.
People will often say “ Well, there is nothing we can do because it is all about what the lakes upstream are doing.“ While it is true that we can’t control what other lakes are doing, wecontinue to work in partnership with some of those lakes for the betterment of all of us in the local water system.
As there are things out of our control, it means that we need to be even more vigilant about our individual actions. An excellent source of insight and information can be found in the 2 presentations that our former Lake Steward - Jeff Muirhead had done for our past 2 AGM’s. These narrated presentations (with slides) can be found on our websitehttps://www.horseshoelake.ca/ in the member portal under Annual General Meeting OR Click here to view and listen to the presentations.
Like other Haliburton Highlands lakes, Horseshoe Lake is classified as an oligotrophic lake - a body of water which has a relatively low productivity due to the low nutrient content in the lake. The waters of these lakes are usually quite clear due to the limited growth of algae in the lake. The waters of such lakes are of high-drinking quality. Such lakes support aquatic species who require well-oxygenated, cold waters such as lake trout, however they also are typically bedrock dominated which is not consistent with Horseshoe Lake, so we also hedge towards the characteristics of mesotrophic lakes also. These lakes have higher biological productivity, a diverse array of aquatic species, medium-level nutrients and they usually have clear water with submerged aquatic plants.
What is the HLPOA doing?
The HLPOA has a strong lake health stewardship program which includes:
1. Monitoring Water Quality and trends analysis
2. Building Awareness and Educating our Property Owners in the Core Lake Health Focus Areas that contribute to both the short and long-term health of our lake
a. Healthy Septic Systems
b. Naturalized Shorelines
c. Wetland Health and Protection
d. Invasive Species Identification and Management
3. Facilitating Algal Bloom Identification, Reporting and Communications
As an association we will continue to pass along information,tools, resources and good science to our members but it is still up to each of you and your families to take actions that help to support and preserve the health of our lake. In this newsletter we have shared some information about the monitoring program and information and resources in each of the focus areas as well as information about Algal Blooms. We will continue to share information in future Keeping in Touch newsletters and through our website.
What Can You Do To Help?
We are all Stewards of our Lake!
The best thing you can do is to be engaged on lake health. Weurge you to:
• learn more
• consider how you can contribute to the overall health of our lake.
• consider how you are contributing in a positive way in each of the focus areas described below.
• consider what you might change about your time on Horseshoe Lake to ensure the long-term health of our lake for generations to come.
• ask questions, talk with your family and friends about it, and don’t get discouraged by the amount of information! We’re all continually learning, and every bit of knowledge you accumulate is of great benefit for you, your property, and the lake.
• If you rent your property, please make sure that your renters understand the best practices that contribute to the health of our lake.
HLPOA Water Quality Monitoring Program
The HLPOA has a strong water quality monitoring program and continues to be a leader in lake stewardship in Haliburton County. While we monitor a lot of things, it is impossible to monitor everything, so it is important to stay active and continue to learn in this area. We have been involved in water testing for many years which is really helpful in assessing trends. Having said that, by the time we see the downslide in our water quality results it may be too late to turn things around - another reason why it is important to be vigilant in both our testing and our actions!
As we are part of a system of lakes, we work closely with Mountain Lake, Twelve Mile/Little Boshkung, Boshkung and have partnered with them to purchase our own testing equipment. We also collaborate with others through our work in the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners Associations (CHA). We utilize students from Fleming College and Trent University in various aspects of our monitoring program and count on volunteers on the lake to help with testing.
Our water testing program does testing at specific times throughout the spring/summer/fall to help us better understand what is happening to the water as the seasons change – but they are still just a point in time.
Our water testing programs include:
Credit for Product (C4P)
The HLPOA partners with Mountain Lake and Fleming College to measure Plankton, Dissolved Oxygen, Temperature, Phosphorus/Calcium and Benthics(bugs) in the Fall. We have been fortunate to be able to participate in this program for the past 6 years, the cost of which is approximately $1000 annually. We are very appreciative of the relationship and partnership through this program that has been nurtured over the years with Sandford Fleming. Alternatively, the cost to do this type of testing through a consultant would be prohibitive.
This testing is a broad-scale monitoring program of valuable biological metrics and includes trend analysis. It is a more intense testing of our Water Quality measures as well as benthics (bugs and plankton) which feed the fish.
What does our testing tell us?
• Based on our regular sampling program, which measures various aspects at specific times of the year, we have been within ranges appropriate to historical ranges typical for waterbodies like Horseshoe Lake over a number of years.
• This begs the question as to why we have seen small Algal Blooms later in the year in the past couple of years. While currently unexplained it is concerning and we need to look at how to expand our testing protocols to learn more.
• The testing results don’t entirely explain why we have algal blooms but we have some clues and some theories. We do know that in the Haliburton lakes, excessive phosphorus is the main culprit causing Algal Blooms and in Horseshoe something seems to happens to the lake later in the summer/fall that exposes more phosphorus and increases the risk of Algal Blooms.
• One of the unique results compared to other lakes in our area is that the Dissolved Oxygen in the deep parts of our lake drops and is very low in the late summer and into the fall. This is not a good result for fish and other living organisms and can impact the lake quality and chemistry.
• Phosphorus can be stored in a lake in the water, in plant material and in the sediment where it can remain for years.
We need to be diligent about minimizing the phosphorus we are putting into the lake!
Other Monitoring Programs that support our overall Water Quality
Provincially Significant Wetland Monitoring
Considerable work was done prior to 2015, to identify species and plant life in our Wetland on the east shore of Shuyler’sIsland. This resulted in our wetland being designated as a Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW) in December 2015.
The HLPOA has contracted with Glenside Ecological Services (Paul Heaven) to set up a database to track flora and fauna on an annual basis in the PSW. This proactive initiative will ensure we have data to detect long term trends and information to assist in preserving the designation of the PSW.
In 2022, Paul and his team identified:
• 14 Species at Risk/Endangered/Threatened or species of Special Concern to the Federal or Provincial Government
• 9 provincially significant species and 15 regionally rare species.
Our PSW has been identified as the 2nd richest site in terms of birds in the County.
This Monitoring program is essential to helping us understand what is happening with our fishery and wildlife as well has providing critical information that should allow ongoing protection of this area.
Loon Monitoring Program
In case you missed it - In our April edition of 2022 Survey….Because You Asked, we discussed why loons are so important to the health of our lake and the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey (CLLS) that we participate in. Monitoring of loon reproductive success has proven effective for monitoring broader lake health. Survival of loon chicks is a good indicator of the impact of lake acidification and other water conditions on fish stocks and aquatic life. More information can also be found in the March/April 2023 Cottage Life magazine.
What Can You Do To Help?
• Continue to take note of your surroundings and be aware of changes.
• Continue to be a member of the HLPOA and promote others to be members so that we can afford to continue these testing programs.
• If you notice changes in the water quality, please advise email@example.com