The Muskrat Watershed Council is a volunteer, community-based, not-for-profit organization whose main goal is to improve water quality for our local communities by using scientific and local-based knowledge. We seek to engage and empower people and communities in identifying and reducing nutrient loading from all sources within the Muskrat Watershed.
The Muskrat Watershed encompasses an area that stretches over five municipalities in the County of Renfrew:
• North Algona Wilberforce
• Township of Laurentian Valley
• Township of Admaston/Bromley
• Township of Whitewater Region
• City of Pembroke
The Watershed includes Muskrat Lake, the Muskrat and Snake Rivers, Lake Dore, Black Creek, Mink Lake, Mink Creek, Olmstead Lake, and numerous small creeks, streams, lakes and wetlands.
The total Watershed covers an area of over 500 square kilometres with the Muskrat River emptying into the Ottawa River in the City of Pembroke.
Muskrat Lake is the largest body of water in the Watershed and is a natural resource valued for its fish and wildlife habitat, recreational activities, and residential development opportunities. The lake supports many species of fish - pike, pickerel, bass, lake trout, rainbow smelt and perch, among others. The lake also hosts a wide variety of waterfowl, aquatic and other animal species, and provides drinking water for some shoreline property owners and the village of Cobden.
Our elected Executives and Board of Directors is comprised of community volunteers that represent the involved parties of the Muskrat Watershed. These involved parties include; farmers, cottagers, environmentalists, anglers, hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, business owners, and municipality representatives.
Together they strive to:
Find solutions to improve water quality
Educate the public on the importance our of water quality
protect the watershed
Seek or raise funding from any resources available to put towards implementing projects to improve water quality within the Muskrat Watershed
Over the past several decades Muskrat Lake, and to some extent other areas of the Watershed, have seen a serious and significant decline in water quality, most specifically related to nutrient loading.
Nutrient loading involves an increase in the mass of nutrients (particularly nitrates and phosphates) entering a water body. Over a prolonged period, nutrient loading will have a significant impact on water quality and aquatic ecosystem health. This process is called eutrophication.
Water quality monitoring on Muskrat Lake indicates the following problems:
• Phosphorus concentrations are very high, almost double
Ontario’s Provincial Water Quality Objective for inland lakes
• There are no areas or zones in the lake where
dissolved oxygen concentrations are low.
• There is a high risk of blue-green algae blooms with
related toxins, present three of the past six summers.
• The Snake River Watershed and internal loading are
main nutrient sources.
Algal blooms within Muskrat Lake have been increased in frequency and severity in recent years. The presence of blue-green algae (potentially toxic) has been confirmed in the lake in three of the past six years (2007-2013).
Declining water quality on Muskrat Lake has resulted in negative impacts on shoreline property owners, recreational users, residential development, the tourism industry, fish species and aquatic habitat, and has generated public health concerns related to the blue-green algae.