Photo by Linda HeronPhoto Credit


Algae blooms are becoming a common problem in many of our lakes and rivers.  Climate change, warming water temperatures, low water levels and flow, eutrophication, phosphorus from fertilizers, soaps, and detergents; and pollution from untreated, undertreated and treated effluent from waste water treatment facilities into our watersheds, all contribute to its increasing growth and prevalence.


A natural and common form of algae is called Cladophora, and you can often smell it before you see it because it floats into shorelines and begins to decay and rot.

Cladophora are green algae that thrive on phosphorus and other nutrients in the lake or river water. This form of algae reaches peak growth from May to July, on the bottom along the shorelines and shallow water.

When the water temperature rises, the algae begin to die and loosen from the bottom. Strong winds and waves detach large quantities that become floating masses that can lodge on shore and begin to decay. The decaying algae cause the unpleasant odour.

Cladophora is not harmful to your health, althought the decaying algae can cause a very unpleasant odour and can form large floating deposits along our shorelines.   The rotting algae also adds to the nutrient levels in the lake, which only perpetuates the cycle. Continue reading

Petition Against a Proposed Small Waterpower Development, Big Eddy Site 2KB21, Petawawa River – Hepburn to Yakabuski

May 29, 2011:


The proponent’s proposed solution to permit the species-at-risk fish to pass the weir is to allow them to swim upstream over the weir during the spring freshet. At that time, the flow is typically fierce, and far exceeds a lake sturgeon’s swimming abilities, let alone its jumping abilities, which are non-existent. During the rest of the year, as a result of the negligible residual flows, the fish
will not get within 300 metres of the weir, let alone be able to jump it. Downstream passage of fish is likewise threatened by the turbine, the particular design of which has a history of causing high fish mortality. The proposed design would therefore introduce yet another insurmountable obstacle in the migration path of these Species at Risk.

The precautionary approach would clearly be to place a moratorium on development of all small waterpower sites where SAR fish are known to exist until the science of fishway design is better understood.  Continue reading

Environmental Assessment Act – O.Reg. 273/11 – Comes into Effect on Sept. 19, 2011

August 2, 2011:  O. Reg. 116/01 to be Changed by O. Reg. 273/11 on September 19, 2011 – by W.A. Allen

Ontario Regulation 116/01 (usually referred to as O. Reg. 116 or O. Reg. 116/01) was enacted in 2001 but has had changes made to it since that time so it is imperative that people citing it use the most recent version and that they know when parts of it will be revoked. O. Reg. 116/01 is available at .

When people download O. Reg. 116/01 within the next few days they will notice that some of the provisions of another regulation, O. Reg. 273/11, made under the Open for Business Act, 2010, will cause certain clauses within O.Reg. 116/01 to be revoked as of September 19, 2011. That means that the 60 day period under which public comment is invited re The Chute on the Ivanhoe River (which ends September 12), falls entirely prior to the effective date of the relevant provisions of O. Reg. 273/11. O. Reg. 273/11 is a very brief regulation that changes O. Reg. 116/ O. as of September 19. O. Reg. 273/11 is available at Continue reading

Eurasian Watermilfoil – Milfoil Weevil

Eurasian Milfoil

Eurasian Watermilfoil ( Myriophyllum spicatum )

Eurasian Watermilfoil is an aggressive submerged aquatic plant native to Europe, Asia and North Africa that has become one of the most widely distributed non-native aquatic plant species in North America.   For detailed information you can go to Invading

There are several methods of controlling this plant, however, one that has been finding success and has no negative impacts involves using a little bug which is native to our Ontario waters – the Milfoil Weevil.

Below is an excellent interview which explains the program.


Stephen Butcher, Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance (GSWA), was interviewed on May 6, 2011, on Morning North, CBC Radio, in Sudbury.  This is an excellent interview and talks about a Milfoil Abatement Program, using a native species of weevils, which was approved by Sudbury City Council to begin this summer.  Enviro Science will begin the program this year.

Click on “listen” for an excellent brief explanation of this project at the  Morning North website.

NWPA – Thompson of Transport Canada to Allen

July 20, 2011:


Allen: A number of my colleagues have turned to me with questions about the Navigable Waters Protection Act in light of Feed In Tarriff proposals for hydroelectric developments on rivers in Northern Ontario under plans by the Ontario Government through its Green Energy and Green Economy Act. This wave of questions has come to me, no doubt, because of my open letter to the TRAN committee on Feb. 22, 2009 at the time that changes to the Act were being proposed. My letter was widely distributed and posted on several websites. You can see a copy at the website of Alberta Whitewater. Continue reading

Petawawa River Hydroelectric Proposals

Summary of the Project

Two projects on the Petawawa River.  One at Half Mile Rapids, entirely on DND property, the other at Big Eddy, right in the middle of Town.

Description of the Issues

These sites have not previously been dammed in any way

  • Aesthetic degradation due to reduced flow in bypassed section of the river
  • Impact on kayak/canoe navigability. This is a world-class kayaking site
  • Fish habitat, migration.  Sturgeon are acknowledged to be in the river.  Proponent PD says there is “no known bypass solution”.  Also, there are many other non-SAR game fish.
  • Public safety:  there is a heavily used recreation area 500 meters downstream of the proposed dam.  Varying river flows, either intentional or resulting from failure of the computer control system, mean that the users of this area are at risk
  • Contempt for Public Consultation component of the EA.  Proponent generally ignores questions, or gives vague general answers.  Presentations have so far been “content free”
  • Insufficient documentation to assess potential environmental impact.  PD is conceptual only
  • Big Eddy switched from unmanaged to managed waterway.  This omits the “Notice of Inspection” opportunity for public review.
  • Document baseline is uncontrolled.  Documents get revised, removed at the proponent’s whim, and there is no revision record
  • The proponent is attempting to deviate from the published Class EA process.  He wants to have a draft of the ER reviewed by the regulators.  In other words, he wants to have two tries at seeing just how much he can get away with.
  • Erosion of the south bank of the river and the foundation of the Petawawa Blvd bridge appears to be a distinct possibility.
  • Lack of clarity on peaking vs. run-of-the-river.  This greatly affects the area of influence. Continue reading

Chats Falls & Chenaux – Waterpower Agreements Renewal – Ross

June 13, 2011:


I write this open letter as an Algonquin Elder from Pikwàkanagàn First Nation in response to your invitation for public comment to the proposed waterpower agreements with Ontario Power Generation Inc. (OPG) at Chats Falls and Chenaux. I write one letter to you both since there is a lack of continuity in MNR’s approaches to waterpower agreements in different parts of the Ottawa River Watershed and elsewhere in Ontario. There also is a lack of continuity between these proposed agreements and MNR’s responsibilities under the Lakes and Rivers Act (LRIA). I think that it is wrong for MNR to have so many different ways of treating agreements under Ontario Regulation 242/08 and also wrong to not acknowledge in every waterpower agreement the fact that MNR has responsibilities under LRIA. Continue reading

Vermilion River – 4 Proposed Hydro-electric Dams

At Soo Crossing, Vermilion River

The Vermilion River Stewardship was formed to deal with several challenges that are presently facing the Vermilion River and its Watershed.

River Concerns:

  • Four proposed Run-of-River Waterpower Projects
  • 9 Waste Water Treatment Facilities, 3 holding ponds, 1 tailings pond, and lift stations dumping treated, undertreated and untreated effluent into the Vermilion River Watershed.
  • Mining development creating effluent discharge and pollution
  • Algae and Cyanobacteria
  • Invasive Species, such Eurasian Watermilfoil

As you can see, the Vermilion River Stewardship is dealing with several challenges, however, the most pressing and urgent at the moment are the four proposed waterpower projects presently going through the Environmental Assessment (EA) process.  This report will focus on these challenges. Continue reading

McGraw Falls – Letter from Allen to Enskaitis, Xeneca Power Development Ltd.

July 30, 2011:  “I see that the NOC indicates that requesters of elevations had a deadline of May 1, 2009 to submit their requests to the Director of Environmental Assessment and Approvals Branch, Ministry of the Environment. That date, as you know, precedes the date when the Ontario Legislature passed the Green Energy and Green Economy Act (GEA) on May 14, 2009. See here. That leads to some questions which I ask you to answer.

 1. Is the McGraw Falls project being considered under the Green Energy and Green Economy Act?

 2. Were there any requests for elevation prior to the May 1, 2009 deadline?

 3a. Has Xeneca received approval to proceed with the project?

3b. If so where are the approval documents posted?

 4. The Appendices include a notice dated February 21, 2008 which mentions specialty studies “currently in process” re each of habitat, hydrology and archaeology*.

 4a. Does the April 1, 2009 ESR include all of the information from these three studies?

 4b. Were any other specialty studies initiated after Februray 21, 2008?

  • I have an interest in cultural heritage values so commend Xeneca for ensuring that “McGraw Falls Water Power continues to work very closely with the Thunder Bay Region Ministry of Natural Resources to ensure that local values are examined and studies are focused appropriately” (McGraw Falls ESR Appendix A). An indication of appropriate focus and treatment of cultural values would be inclusion in the ESR of all five classes of cultural heritage values listed in Ontario’s Forest Management Guide for Cultural Heritage Values, Section 1.4, page 7. (OMNR. 2007. Forest Management Guide for Cultural Heritage Values. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Toronto. 84p). Those classes are:

–          archaeological sites

–          archaeological potential areas

–          cultural heritage landscapes

–          historical Aboriginal values

–          cemeteries Continue reading

What is River Management – by Frederick W. Schueler

by Frederick W. Schueler

Bishops Mills Natural History Centre

RR#2 Bishops Mills, Ontario, Canada K0G 1T0

This citation was “originally published in River Management Society Journal 24(2):1,14-15.”

My wife Aleta and I constitute the BMNHC as a “mom & pop” research institute, with the goal of studying conspicuous but neglected aspects of ecological change. We find many aspects of rivers to be conspicuous but neglected, and we’ve developed low cost protocols for remedying aspects of this neglect. We work with some agencies of the conservation bureaucracy including the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ontario Freshwater Mussel Recovery Team, and South Nation Conservation Authority, and have assisted a number of NIMBY’s who were unsettled by plans to change rivers near their homes, but mostly we study and publicize those groups of organisms that are widely noticed but not recognized to species, and ecosystems and communities that are rapidly changing for whatever reasons. Continue reading