October 23, 2015 -Today the Province of Ontario released a report that outlines the actions taken to address the goals of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, and summarizes the results of ongoing environmental monitoring in the watershed.
Among the highlights/findings:
- long-term spring phosphorus concentrations in the lake (which can cause blue-green algae) have improved
- some native fish are showing signs of recovery
- levels of dissolved oxygen have significantly improved since the 1980’s
Lake Simcoe is the largest inland lake in southern Ontario outside of the Great Lakes.
The watershed is home to more than 435,000 people.
The lake covers 722 square kilometres in surface area and is fed by 35 major streams and rivers.
The watershed is 2,899 square kilometres in area.
The 2008 Lake Simcoe Protection Act was Canada’s first lake-specific legislation, and it enabled the creation of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, which was designed to “protect and restore the ecological health of Lake Simcoe”.
At an event in Barrie held to recognize the 5-year anniversary of the Act, Ontario’s Minister of Enviroment and Climate Change stated:
“Two weeks ago, we passed the Great Lakes Protection Act. It’s really legislation based on Lake Simcoe Protection Plan legislation. What we’ve done is we’ve taken this five-year experience of Barrie, Orillia, and Innisfil and the communities here because this has worked so well, it became the approach which we’re taking with all of the Great Lakes, with the entire Great Lake watershed. It’s one thing to do something well, it’s another thing doing it so well the government advances it as the new normal for policy in regional water management”.
This is an interesting perspective… when speaking to legislative committee in support of the Lake Simcoe Protection Act in 2008, FOCA comments included the following: “Lake Planning is an undertaking that FOCA is working on with our community group members – this type of community-driven community engagement, informed by sound science and backed by appropriate public policy, is required for long-term results across large landscapes, and across watersheds. Like our inland / small lake efforts, the Lake Simcoe Protection Act can be a successful model for citizens working cooperatively with government.
In summary, FOCA sees the value in a broad and collaborative watershed approach for Lake Simcoe. This can only be accomplished by following through with the spirit and intent of this Bill and engaging all of the many interests in a proactive manner.”FOCA also contributed that, “…the Lake Simcoe Act and Plan can serve as a blueprint or template for lake planning across Ontario. A vibrant, 2-way process for sharing learnings and outcomes between Lake Simcoe efforts and other lake planning initiatives will provide enormous benefits to sustainable watershed planning across Ontario.”
At the October 2015 event, Gayle Wood, Chair of the Lake Simcoe Coordinating Committee added: “The Lake Simcoe Protection Act and Plan represent a global best practice in integrated watershed management.”
Notes and data on the Monitoring of Lake Simcoe
The Ontario government passed the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan in 2009. The Plan focuses on key issues critical to the health of Lake Simcoe including:
• restoring the health of aquatic life
• improving water quality
• protecting and rehabilitating shorelines and natural areas, and;
• addressing the impacts of invasive species, and climate change.
The 2014 Lake Simcoe Monitoring Report presents the results of all monitoring programs for Lake Simcoe, and describes long-term trends on the ecological health of the lake and its watershed.
The report results indicate that there continues to be a number of stressors affecting the ecological health of Lake Simcoe and its watershed.
In the News:
Lake Simcoe has benefitted from five-year program: officials (Orrillia Packet)
Lake Simcoe Protection Act A Success, New Report Shows (Water Canada)