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The Lake Sturgeon in Ontario

Author:   Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. 2009. The lake sturgeon in Ontario. Fish and Wildlife Branch. Peterborough, Ontario. 48 p. + appendices.

Page 26.

The construction of dams, many for hydroelectric power generation, restrict access to spawning, nursery and feeding habitats thereby fragmenting their natural habitat (Figure 12).  Hydroelectric development was identified as the greatest problem for
lake sturgeon rehabilitation at 12 of 21 historic Lake Superior spawning sites (Ebener 2007). The blockage of migration routes has been attributed as the cause for decline and a factor preventing recovery of lake sturgeon in many situations (Harkness and Dymond 1961, Haxton and Findlay 2008, Mohr and McClain 2001, Swainson 2001).

Hydroelectric power generation can have strong negative effects on sturgeon spawning downstream.  Sturgeon recruitment is believed to be related to the volume of spring water flows. The artificial alteration of water levels and flows disrupts the natural
environmental cues associated with movements, spawning and downstream drift of larval fish. Constant flows allow large fish migratory access and triggers reproduction resulting in less time spent on the spawning grounds (Auer 1996b).

On the Kaministiquia River, Friday and Chase (2005) reported that adult sturgeon did not move to the spawning area at the base of Kakabeka Falls until flows reached 23 m3 sec-1. Water level fluctuations below dams can leave eggs susceptible to dessication (Brousseau and Goodchild 1989, Evans et al. 1993, Rosenberg et al. 1997). In some cases, sturgeon can become entrained and
stranded in pools downstream of hydroelectric facilities (Seyler 1996).

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Draft – Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) Great Lakes-Upper St. Lawrence River, Northwestern Ontario and Southern Hudson Bay-James Bay populations in Ontario Ontario Recovery Strategy Series

Author:  Golder Associates Ltd. 2011. DRAFT Recovery Strategy for Lake Sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) – Northwestern Ontario, Great Lakes-Upper St. Lawrence River and Southern Hudson Bay-James Bay populations in Ontario. Ontario Recovery Strategy Series. Prepared for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario. v + 74 pp.

About the Ontario Recovery Strategy Series

This series presents the collection of recovery strategies that are prepared or adopted as advice to the Province of Ontario on the recommended approach to recover species at risk. The Province ensures the preparation of recovery strategies to meet its commitments to recover species at risk under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk in Canada. Continue reading

Water Drawdown and its Effects on Lake Trout (Salvelinus Namaycush) Reproduction in three South-Central Ontario Lakes, by M. L. Wilton, MNR

Author: Wilton, M.L. 1985. Water drawdown and its effects on lake trout (Salvelinus ncmayaush) reproduction in three south-central Ontario lakes. Ont. Fish. Tech. Rep. Ser. No. 20: iii & 9 p.

Observations and data gathered from Bark Lake indicate that reproduction of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) is no longer possible because of water drawdown of as much as 10 m annually. The fishery is now sustained by hatchery plantings. Data and observations from Mary Lake indicate that natural reproduction of lake trout may be severely curtailed at one of two shoals due to winter drawdown of as much as 0.83 m. Bella Lake has no dam or water level drawdown. Spawning occurs in less than 0.3 m but ice thickness lessens toward shore and as a result, there is no egg loss.

The area located between the Ottawa Valley and Georgian Bay, south of the French and Mattawa Rivers and north of the Kawartha Lakes, contains many oligotrophic lakes which provide suitable environments for lake trout (Salve-1-inus namayaush’) • Water control structures at the outlets of many of these lakes regulate water levels for hydroelectric generating stations downstream, as well as for cottage and recreational demands. Water drawdowns in these lakes characteristically occur during late fall and winter and coincide with the incubation period of lake trout eggs. The purpose of this paper is to document observations on lake trout spawning and water drawdown in three of these lakes.

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Silt, Turbidity and Suspended Sediments in the Aquatic Environment: An Annotated Bibliography and Literature Review – 1995. Kerr, S. J. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

Author:  Kerr, S.J. 1995. Silt, turbidity and suspended sediments in the aquatic environment: an annotated bibliography and literature review. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Southern Region Science & Technology Transfer Unit Technical Report TR-008. 277 pp.

Summary: The impacts of siltation and suspended sediments on water quality and resident aquatic organisms is one of the most common problems facing resource managers today. Most construction activities in or near a watercourse have the potential to result in decreased shoreline stability and/or an increase in siltation, suspended sediments and turbidity.

This annotated bibliography was prepared in response to requests from several Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources biologists and technicians. Almost 1,200 references are cited. Abstracts, summaries or extracts of each paper are included whenever possible. Continue reading

Water must be treated as a “Commons”

For many years, Maude Barlow has worked tirelessly to protect our environment and natural resources, as well as our rights to water – the necessity for water to be treated as a “Commons”.  She has generated a huge body of work and earned awards and acclamation for her many achievements.

There are two competing narratives about the earth’s freshwater resources being played out in the 21st century. On one side is a powerful clique of decision-makers, heads of some powerful states, international trade and financial institutions and transnational corporations who do not view water as part of the global Commons or a public trust, but as a commodity, to be bought and sold on the open market. On the other is a global grassroots movement of local communities, the poor, slum dwellers, women, indigenous peoples, peasants and small farmers working with environmentalists, human rights activists, progressive water managers and experts in both the global North and the global South who see water as a Commons and seek to provide water for all of nature and all humans. This paper describes the tense – and globally threatening – relationship between these two prominent narratives and points to ways that the life affirming water Commons can be used as a framework to bring water justice to all.

Report: Our Water Commons – Toward a freshwater narrative

Threats to Sources of Drinking Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Health in Canada, by Environment Canada – 2001

Environment Canada. 2001.  Threats to Sources of Drinking Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Health in Canada.   National Water Research Institute, Burlington, Ontario.  NWRI Scientific Assessment Report Series No. 1.  72p.  Page 69 – 15. Impacts of Dams/Diversions and Climate Change;  T.D. Prowse,1 J.M. Buttle,2 P.J. Dillon, 2 M.C. English, 3 P. Marsh, 1 J.P. Smol4 and F.J. Wrona1; 1Environment Canada, National Water Research Institute, Saskatoon, SK; 2Trent University, Peterborough, ON; 3Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON; 4Queen’s University, Kingston, ON.

Below is an excerpt:

“Most of our current knowledge of the impacts of water quantity changes on water quality is based on studies of the effects of Canada’s more than 600 dams and 60 large interbasin diversions, which makes the nation the world leader in water diversion (Day and Quinn 1992).  Most Canadian dams store water during peak flow periods and release flow to generate power during winter, low-flow periods.

Such changes to water quantity also modify various water quality parameters within the reservoir and downstream, the effects decreasing with distance from the impoundment.  Major examples include:

  • thermal stratification within the reservoir and modification of downstream water temperatures
  • eutrophication;
  • promotion of anoxic conditions in hypolimnetic water and related changes in metal concentrations in outflow;
  • increased methylation of mercury;
  • sediment retention;
  • associated changes in TDS, turbidity and nutrients in the reservoir and discharged water;
  • increased erosion/deposition of downstream sediments and associated contaminants.

For impoundments used for drinking water, intra-storage processes also have serious implications for the quality of drinking water.”


Fish-friendly Turbines – Test for evaluating the injuries suffered by downstream-migrating eels in their transiting through the new spherical discharge ring VLH turbogenerator unit installed on the Moselle River in Frouard

Written by T. Lagarrigue and A. Frey

Eels are an amphihaline migrating species classified as vulnerable and inscribed on the Red List at a national level. Considering the alarming decline in their population at the three continental phases of their biological cycle, the European Community has set a framework for the protection and the sustainable exploitation of the European eel stock through its September 2007 regulation (EC) n°1100/2007. This regulation especially provides for each member state to implement, as fast as possible, adapted measures to decrease the eel mortality resulting from factors unrelated to fishery, such as hydroelectric turbines. The installation of so-called “fish-friendly” turbines, to replace existing turbines or on new developments, is one possible solutions.

MJ2 Technologies has embarked on this path, and has been developing and marketing the very low head turbine, VLH, designed to comply with the main “fish-friendliness” criteria relative to the passing of fish through turbines. To evaluate the actual efficiency of the compliance with these theoretical criteria, the VLH has been submitted to 2 series of in-situ tests. The first tests have been carried out on the first VLH commissioned at the Troussy site, on the Tarn river closely upstream of Millau
(ECOGEA, 2007, 2008a, and 2008b). For an operation at full opening and full power, general mortality rates of 7.7% for adult silver eels (from 356 to 1045 mm; average size 846 mm) and 3.1% for Atlantic salmon smolts have thus been observed. These results already ranked the VLH as less penalizing than conventional Kaplan turbines. However, significant prospects of improvement of the “fishfriendliness” of the VLH had been brought to light during these first tests (mortalities mainly located at
the level of an area where the fish were “pinched” between the blade ends and the discharge ring).  Following these conclusions, MJ2 Technologies has decided to modify the hydraulic contour of its new VLHs (spherical contour at the discharge ring level) to attempt further decreasing the mortality caused to downstream-migrating fish. This new VLH has been installed in Frouard and submitted to this second series of tests, the main results of which are discussed in the present report. Continue reading

Ivanhoe River – The Chute: Xeneca response to Tony Godin

August 15, 2011:  “# 19. This Run of the river system which modifies the flow of the river at certain time of the day or night and with the combination of so many kilometers of inundation will render this river inaccessible to tourism, canoeists, naturalists and fishermen alike. By doing so how is Xeneca prepared to deal with this without forgetting the damage to the tourists that are already talking about not coming back to Foleyet area because the Ivanhoe wilderness is the one of the main reasons for making these long and costly trips?

Xeneca has been consistent and clear in stating that public access to the river will not be unduly impeded. Other than specific locations such as high voltage equipment and intake channels, access will remain or be enhanced. If portage routes or trails are affected, Xeneca requests input from affected stakeholders to avoid or mitigate the effect. And, as stated with the Waterpower Class EA, Xeneca will work with the recreational fishing community, tourism operators and other interested parties to ensure a) impacts to fisheries are minimum; b) access to those fishing areas are not impeded; and c) to facilitate improvements to accessing the fishery and maximizing tourism potential.” Continue reading