Lake Scugog Science


The following are research reports of monthly lake water quality monitoring trips taken to date by the Scugog Lake Stewards with professors and students from U.O.I.T. These trips take scientific water quality samples, samples of vegetation (plant and algae) on the bottom of the lake or visible on the surface, and samples of bottom muck to determine the quality and quantity of the bugs, snails, mussels, weevils in the mud and on the plants that fish require for life — in other words they study fish habitat and the health of the lake. Our next tour goes out on August 8 and 10. Please check into our Facebook site, Scugog Lake Stewards and ‘like’ our almost daily reports.

The Lake Stewards are indebted to Ms. Louise Renwick for the use of her large pontoon boat for all of our tours. Thank you again Louise.  We also need to give great thanks to the Hillier Foundation, the McLean Foundation and the Royal Bank for their support for our research. We also must thank  Dr. Andrea Kirkwood, Professor of Biology at UOIT for the insight that this research was necessary and new — and for taking it to a truly exciting and important level. (Photo left) We are also indebted to Annette Tavares, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biology of UOIT for her hands-on help and great knowledge in the area of benthic life (bugs in the mud.) 2016-04-14 10.11.51

RESEARCH REPORT, JULY 13, 2016 – EAST SIDE OF LAKE SCUGOG. Just a reminder, our research is being carried out with U.O.I.T. to try to understand the impact of several invasive species of lake vegetation especially the newly introduced alga to Canada — starry stonewort (SS) and its possible impact on our fishery and the health of the lake. This year’s work is to map the prevalence of SS and other lake plants and algae to prepare for a larger 3 to 4 year study by a graduate student from U.O.I.T. and to study the study the life in the bottom mud that small fish require for life. There has been speculation that SS has a negative effect on fish life.

Note: The day’s water level was 249.85 (819.2 ft.) above sea level which is just below the historic low for this time of year. The dam top is 250.00m (820.2 ft ). All stop logs have been in since May 25.

This day, we started out in calm waters and light winds as the day began but as the day progressed the wind from the SE increased and the air temperature went up to 80 F., 26 C. (Perfect for evaporation from the lake surface!) We analysed the sites based on our usual GPS specific co-ordinates in the order that we travelled. Over and above the reported information below, water quality samples were taken for later analysis.

SITE # 11 – STARR BAY This bay is almost surrounded by homes and boats. This time the water was clear of surface aquatic growth with the depth to the top of plants being 30 cm. The water was somewhat green but clear to about 5 ft taken by Secchi reading. Deep raking produced an array of thick plant growth including about 25% Eurasian watermilfoil, 25% the alga Starry stonewort, about 15% a mix of Eel grass (Tape grass), pondweeds of various types and the rest the native alga Chara. The water temperature taken at a standard depth was 76.6F.

SITE # 12 – OFF BIRCH ISLAND This is a relatively deep area (6 ft) of algal green water with no understory plants visible and a temperature 77.4 degrees F. Deep raking produced large quantities of the native plant-like alga, Chara with a small amount of the companion plant, bladderwort.

SITE # 10 – OFF WILLIAM’S POINT No plants were visible with an overall depth of 5 ft. and a Secchi reading of 4 ft. Deep raking retrieved a light growth of Eurasian watermilfoil, starry stonewort (SS) and broad leaf pondweed, slightly more tape grass and a good deal of Chara. But overall, growth was less than in other areas. There were zebra mussels and many midge larvae which is indicative of healthy muck.

SITE # 9 – CLOSE TO THE MARSH SOUTH/WEST SIDE (BUFFALO FARM) Unfortunately low water conditions did not allow us to visit the exact site but we were able to get within about 150 yards. Here the air and water both 79F. The water was predictably browner from the wetlands with the depth to the top of the dominant plants only 6 – 8 inches. Approaching the marsh there appeared to be undulations of mud, then low areas that were thick with Chara and Starry stonewort. There were also areas of wild rice as we approached and thick cover of white waterlilies near the shore.

SITE # 8 – REEF POINT Here the depth was 7 ft to the bottom but the clarity due to green algae showed slightly less that 5 ft. Here the growth was exceptionally thick with 50% SS and slightly less Chara. (See photo 2)

SITE # 7 – SOUTH OF ISLAND MARINA Here the water was quite green with a clarity reading of less than 3 ft. Water temperature was again approximately 79 degrees. However, here there was a much thinner number of plants with SS at about 40% of what we found, –and Chara about 35%. There was also some bladderwort and some broad leaf pondweed.

Another great day on the lake with three U.O.I.T. students and much greater understanding of what our lake is about.
Barbara Karthein, President for Ron Porter, Research Chair.

Scugog Lake Stewards Inc.'s photo.
Scugog Lake Stewards Inc.'s photo.


RESEARCH REPORT, JULY 11, 2016, WEST ARM OF THE LAKE. Great conditions to be out on the boat with light winds from the south/east all day, temperatures of from 23 to 25 degrees.

To try to understand the vegetation at each location we throw out our big weighted rake (as seen in the photo) three times around the boat at sites set by specific co-ordinates. Then we look at what we pull up. This report is on what we saw, but the students take large samples and place them in labelled plastic bags which are then stored in a cooler. These bags are then taken back to the U.O.I.T. lab., analysed by the students and the info. added to the data bank of our study. This detailed analysis may take 3 to 4 days. As well detailed water quality analysis is done at each site and previously the muck quality and bugs found there were determined.

SITE # 1, PORT PERRY BAY Some of the area close to our site had been harvested by the township earlier in the week, however our chosen site had lots to look at. 40% was our old friend Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM) and underneath there appeard to be about 40% Starry Stonewort, the new invasive alga that we are concerned about because it may be negative to fish life. Mixed in there was a variety of native plants. Comparing it to last year there was significantly less of the native Canada Pondweed or Elodea. There were a few Zebra mussels but for sure other things will come up upon closer examination. Most interesting there was evidence of milfoil weevil damage on the EWM.

SITE # 2, OFF CANTERBURY COMMON GOLF COURSE. The depth to the bottom here is only about .8 m but the plant growth is right up to the top and lying over in 100% thick profusion. There was only about 1% EWM, 75% native alga Chara and the rest was something called ‘small leaf pondweed.’ However, there were channels through the ‘weed’ and a school of bass fingerlings were seen. There were also many damsel flies seen which eat mosquitos and other small flies in their larval and flying stages.

The water here is quite deep and no plants can be seen at all. A secchi disc reading of clarity indicates a reading of 1.8m which is not too bad although the water is green. The water temperature here is almost 25 degrees. Deep raking indicates there is no EWM at this site, some native tape grass (an important species), 30 to 40% native Chara alga and the majority is Starry Stonewort. At this site there appeared to be lots of snails (native or non-native unknown at this point) and lots of damsel flies.

SITE # 4 NEAR GORESKI’S The water here is quite deep but it only has a clarity reading of 1m with deeper green water. No plants were seen on the surface. The water temperature was a balmy 25 degrees. Deep raking revealed about 5% EWM, 50% Starry Stonewort, 45% curly-leaf pondweed and some other pondweeds. Nothing else of note was seen.

SITE # 5 AT THE OUTFLOW OF THE NONQUON Here the water is shallow and both the bottom and the clarity reading were found to be 1m. The water temperature for some reason here was only just above 23 degrees. There was a 100% plant growth cover here with most of it EWM in various stages of growth. There was some tape grass and 10 to 15% Chara and about 5% Starry Stonewort. Two swans. There were snails but no Zebra mussels. Lots of damsel flies and numbers of small fish were seen.

There appeared to be a very large area flowing via the current north that was almost free of EWM in amongst huge areas of EWM, with lots of Chara and Starry Stonewort instead. This may possibly be the extended area plus natural expansion of the Stewards’ 2009 Milfoil weevil implant. The co-ordinates must be checked before we can make any real statement. To the north beyond the clear area there was much evidence of weevil damage on the stems of the EWM there.

SITE # 6 NARROWS BETWEEN WEST AND EAST LAKE. The bottom depth was 4.9 ft., but the clarity depth (Secchi reading) was only 1.75m. The water temperature was around 24 degrees. About 10 % of the plants, mainly broadleaf pondweed could be seen from the surface but at the bottom 60% of the vegetation was Chara and 30% Starry Stonewort. The water generally was less clear and more green than last year. There did not seem to be any Zebra mussels and no snails.

Still, even though we see lots of vegetation and reduced clarity this year — and we know the lake level is very low for this time of year, it is still a beautiful big lake and such a joy to be out on such a great day. (Photo 2 shows part of the team heading off up the lake to our next site.)

Scugog Lake Stewards Inc.'s photo.
Scugog Lake Stewards Inc.'s photo.

JUNE 14, 2016 TODAY’S MONITOR’S REPORT – WEST SIDE OF THE LAKE.(Long form for the science buffs!) (Quite a mixed bag of results. Picture 1 is Chara and Starry Stonewort on our big bottom rake, and picture 2 is of the overwhelming plant growth in Canterbury Common Bay.)

Our skipper Ken took Bill and I out this frigid, blustery day with the students from UOIT. We ran into so many unexpected findings that we had to resort to his wisdom again to explain things. “Well, look at the changes in the gardens at home in the last two weeks”. The aquatic plants growing in May and those in June seem to be from different lakes. So further with our report …

Site 1. Port Perry Bay. Morning atmospheric temperature 52F and water temperature 62.4F. Water clear, depth 3ft and 1ft to reach top of dominant plants. Wind NW. 10km. The Bay is chock full of Eurasian Watermilfoil(EWM), together with Curly-leaf pondweed(CLP) and Broad-leaf pondweed(BLP) that is currently going to seed. We pulled in the alga Chara which was difficult to see directly even in the shallow bay.

Site 2. Canterbury Common. We are back in 2014 with massive beds of EWM making lake progress by power-boat painful. The Chara of our last sail has been displaced by the EWM, CLP and BLP. The choked waterway stretches from shore to the center of the lake.

Site 5. North of the Nonquon. Depth 2.9ft. As we sailed in toward shore we met an extraordinary sight. Bands of aquatic plants and algae appeared in sequence of perhaps 200yds each, Chara was furthest from shore. Then EWM,CLP,and BLP preceded a broad swaths of Water Lily.
The aquatic plant (macrophyte) biomass is massive here and throughout the lake. Plants are in all stages of growth and the CLP, as anticipated, is now dying off. Much free floating vegetation is evident due no doubt to the high winds and waters of recent days. Starry Stonewort(SS) was noted but is making no inroads as a major invader this year to date.

Site 4. South of Goreski’s Marina Depth 5ft. Plant and algae growth masked by waters muddied by sediment. No plants visible. The rake brought in heavy native Chara, SS, Zebra Mussels, and a few Slender pondweed .

Site 3. East shore across from the West shore marina. Depth 6.2ft. No plants visible due to dark water and sediment disturbance. The rake brought up Chara, SS, and CLP and BLP.

Scugog Lake Stewards Inc.'s photo.
Scugog Lake Stewards Inc.'s photo.

YESTERDAY, SPECIAL RESEARCH OCCURED TO DETERMINE THE AMOUNT OF SEDIMENT LAID DOWN EACH YEAR IN THE LAKE. Organized by Kawartha Conservation, with the Lake Stewards, Dr. Roland Hall of the University of Waterloo and several of his students took cores of the mud in Port Perry Bay to be analysed in their lab. Knowing how much new sediment is laid down each year is critical to understanding and judging the effectiveness of a possible dredging operation. Old data indicated that approximately 1 cm. was laid down each 10 years — but with increased decomposition of lake plants and pressure from population expansion, this number may be understated.

Scugog Lake Stewards Inc.'s photo.

RESEARCH REPORT, JUNE 15, 2016, EAST ARM OF THE LAKE. (Photo: two of the U.O.I.T. research students working on mapping vegetation and bugs in the mud in our lake this summer. We are looking especially at the presence of the new invasive alga, Starry Stonewort (SS) and its possible negative effect on our fisheries. Chara is a native alga, somewhat like SS but benign to fish.)

Lake Stewards’ Ken, Bill and I spent a long, beautiful day on the lake with Claire, Tyler and Annette from UOIT during which Tyler manfully went overboard to clear a fouled anchor, one of many incidents which made this a memorable trip. If only we could say the same for the aquatic plant growth which, at our test sites, was lighter than anticipated with no obvious invasion by Starry Stonewort. One highlight of the sail was to watch three Osprey in an aerial dogfight over a newly caught fish. We saw Osprey, Heron, Ducks, Gulls, a Cormorant and one Crow.

Site 7. South of the Island Marina. An 80F day, water temperature 71.2F, a warm SW wind and 4.5ft of alga green water. There were few visible plants but the rake brought up a light growth of EWM, Tape grass, Coontail, and Bladderwort.

Site 8. The Buffalo farm (South/east side of Island). The depth (Secchi) reading here was 6ft in an algal green lake, and a lake temperature rising through the day to 72.4F. There were no plants visible but the rake brought in Chara, Starry Stonewort, and Canada waterweed.

Site 9. At Reef Point. In 5ft of algal green lake again few plants were visible except for a large display of Water Lily close to shore in the sheltered bay. And Coonttails ringing the shore. Much plant debris was floating at this site. The bottom was visible as a heavy meadow of algae. The rake showed this to be Chara and Starry Stonewort, with occasional Tape Grass, Curly-leaf and Broad-leaf pondweeds, and Bladderwort. Zebra mussels were seen in the muck.

Site 10. North of Caesarea. In algal green water, a Secchi depth of 4ft, and 5.0 ft to the lake bed we noted no obvious plant growth but the rake retrieved a light growth of Chara, Starry Stonewort, Curly-leaf, Clasping-leaf and Broad-leaf pondweeds, Bladderwort and Eel grass. Zebra mussels were evident.

Site 11. In Starr Bay. For sheer beauty this spot is hard to beat. It even sports a sandy shoal which is excellent for swimming and wading. In algal green water at a depth of 5ft and 2ft to the top of the dominant growth, we noted heavy Eurasian Milfoil (EWM) lying on its side, a heavy algal presence, plants in an early growth stage, others at the surface, others flowering and plant debris floating free. The appearance at this site today was of EWM in decline and a very heavy growth of Chara with no obvious Starry Stonewort. Occasional Slender and Broad-leaf pondweeds were noted. We await the lab. findings to tell us if Starry Stonewort was alive and well here. Certainly we encountered Zebra mussels.

Site 12. Off Birch Island. With a lake temperature of 74F and in 6ft of algal green water, no plants were visible. However, the rake unearthed a light growth of Chara, Bladderwort and Broad-leaf pondweed with a heavy growth of Starry Stonewort in the presence of Zebra mussel.

This report is based on sites chosen for research by Dr Kirkwood of U.O.I.T. and is not fully representative of the lake aquatic plant growth this year. For instance we sail from Gilson Street at the head of the lake where there is a very heavy growth of EWM in the presence of many other plant species and Chara. The lake has much to tell us as summer proceeds but there is no obvious dominance of EWM or Starry Stonewort to date.

Ron Porter, Chair, Research with Scugog Lake Stewards Inc.

Scugog Lake Stewards Inc.'s photo.

Lake Scugog Science:  Lake Scugog Environmental Management Plan (LSEMP) – published in 2010


Lake Scugog Science: Nonquon River Fisheries Management Plan

For information on this plan, please use the “contact us” section of the www.kawarthaconservation.comwebsite or call 1-800-668-5722.


Lake Scugog Science: Nonquon River Subwatershed Study

For information on this plan also get in touch with Kawartha Conservation as above.


Lake Scugog Science: Port Perry Stormwater Management Plan

Final Report, December 2013 — High priority areas for the stormwater management plan were identified in the downtown core of Port Perry.  These areas are fully developed and drain directly into Lake Scugog and consist of seven sewersheds.  Over and above the very high levels of nutrients running into the lake, high levels of silt and sediment flow into the lake from this urban area.  It fills in the low spots and contributes to the decreased depth of the lake. In order to work on this the recommendations were as follows:

  1. Construction of selected infrastructure
  2. Amendments to by-laws
  3. Amendments to engineering design standards
  4. Amendments to municipal operations
  5. Cleaning and maintenance of existing stormwater management facilities and
  6. Education, outreach and other stewardship alternatives.

The Scugog Lake Stewards have been and continue to be very active in promoting and enforcing new standards for stormwater management especially in the Port Perry urban area.