Following the release of a new 10-year positive milestone report on the health of Lake Simcoe, Ontario’s government is investing $581,000 in four new projects to further improve the lake.
The new Lake Simcoe report reveals that more than 15 kilometres of degraded shorelines have been restored, more than 55,000 trees and shrubs have been planted, and 120 hectares of wetlands have been either created or restored, all within the last decade.
Now, the Ontario government has unveiled funding for new Lake Simcoe projects that include the use of satellite imagery to predict areas with higher amounts of phosphorus in the watershed, as well as the use of aerial photos to identify and track changes to land use in the watershed. The projects will enhance stormwater management planning and reduce phosphorus and other contaminants from entering the lake.
“Ten years ago, local environmental and conservation organizations, advocates and all levels of government came together as a community to restore the Lake Simcoe watershed, resulting in the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan,” announced Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, in a statement. “Today, we are celebrating the progress we have made together to protect and preserve this vital region, and I look forward to continuing this work,” he added.
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Changes to the natural landscape and stressors such as nutrient inputs, invasive species and climate change, caused significant impairment to the lake, resulting in fisheries collapse, poor water quality, and degraded habitats that became visible in the 1970s.
Also included in the new provincial funding will be training for the inspection and maintenance of stormwater facilities in the watershed.
Lastly, the new funding will pay for the ongoing monitoring of the lake’s water quality by measuring the amount of phosphorus entering it and better understanding the relationship between the lake’s phosphorus loads and dissolved oxygen.
The latest Lake Simcoe report shows a number of other positive trends. Notably, the lake has seen a 50% reduction in phosphorus loads from sewage treatment plants entering the watershed, decreased amounts of algae, and successful reproduction of cold water fish such as lake trout, lake whitefish and cisco.
Since 2009, Ontario’s actions to protect and restore Lake Simcoe have been guided by the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, which focuses on the lake’s water quality, reducing phosphorus levels, caring for natural heritage, and addressing the impacts of invasive species and other emerging threats.
“The results of the 10-year report are very encouraging, but there is more work to be done,” said Andrea Khanjin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and MPP for Barrie-Innisfil. “We all have a role to play to restore and protect the lake and I am proud Ontario will continue working to keep Lake Simcoe clean.”