Our Watershed

What is a Watershed?

A watershed or drainage basin is a region that drains into a particular body of water, such as a river, pond, lake, or ocean. Watersheds: A Practical Handbook for Healthy Water, by C. Dobson and G.G. Beck (Firefly Books, 1999).

The area of land encompassed by a watershed could be very small or it could be immense. For example, Smith’s Creek in Renfrew is a sub-watershed of the Bonnechere River watershed. The Bonnechere River watershed is a sub-watershed of the Ottawa River, which is part of the St. Lawrence River watershed, which in turn is one of the watersheds that flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

Watershed Demonstration Model



The Bonnechere River Watershed                                                                                                                                                                       


The Bonnechere Valley has a rich history of use by people for transportation and exploration, logging, saw milling, agriculture, hydroelectric generation, fishing, boating and other recreation uses. Today, domestic and farm use, hydroelectric generation and recreation are the main water uses, while agriculture and forestry are the two main land uses in the watershed. The Bonnechere River watershed encompasses an area of 2400 sq km (935 sq mi), and over 80% of this land is privately owned.The Bonnechere River is over 145 km (90 mi) long and begins in Algonquin Park on the Canadian Shield and flows into the Ottawa River at Castleford, Ontario. Along its length, the river’s character changes from cold and clear to warm and turbid as it flows from its forested, rocky source to open farm land with more erodable clay soils, human settlement and scattered woodlots. Golden and Round lakes, two of the largest lakes in Renfrew County are situated on the Bonnechere.


Know Your Reach Consultation Report

On April 5, 2008, local residents took part in a consultation workshop geared toward finding out what information people are interested in having regarding the Bonnechere River.  The consultant Daniel Buckles and his team used varying methods to help the group work together to determine what is important to them. The Consultation Report that was completed using the information gathered from this workshop is attached below.

Developing a community based on-line communication and resource tool

The Know Your Reach project for the Bonnechere River Watershed involves the piloting of an on-line communication and resource tool for individuals and groups involved in education and planning. It is designed to engage and sustain community volunteers interested in science, stewardship, monitoring and decision-making that relates to the environment.

The environmental health of the watershed is a reflection of its current and past social and economic activities. Opportunities to describe and discuss this will be available with the on-line tool. Also available will be resource materials such as accessing high quality digital maps.

The general goal is to engage people living throughout the entire watershed in a variety of environmental topics such as:
  • what and where to reforest
  • trails
  • surface and ground water issues
  • reporting of observed natural phenomenon
  • lake planning
  • cultural heritage relating to the environment
  • school environmental projects
  • eco-tourism
The watershed will be organized into sections that feed into various parts of the Bonnechere River. The boundaries of these sections, referred to as a REACH. are defined by the chutes and dams along the river. Overall there are 9 REACHES outside the Algonquin Park boundary:

Reach 1 = Ottawa River to the 1st Chute
Reach 2 = 1st Chute to the Renfrew dams
Reach 3 = Renfrew dam to the Douglas dam
Reach 4 = Douglas dam to the 4th Chute
Reach 5 = 4th Chute to the Eganville dam
Reach 6 = Eganville dam to the Golden Lake dam
Reach 7 = Golden Lake dam to the Tramore dam
Reach 8 = Tramore dam to Jack Chute
Reach 9 = Jack Chute to the Algonquin Park boundary

Ottawa River to the 1st Chute

This Reach extends from the First Chute (a 9-m waterfall) approximately 2 km down to the Ottawa River near Castleford. First Chute was the site of a historic grist mill and sawmill, remnants of which can still be seen today.

There are many large farming operations on this reach. The high (leda clay) banks are sparsely vegetated and erode easily. The Bonnechere River empties into the Ottawa River through a Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW) which provides diverse habitat for fish and wildlife. Approximately 25 percent of this reach is influenced by water level fluctuations in the Ottawa River.

Information needs from page 81 Bonnechere River  Water Management Plan

  1. Status of Amphibian and Reptile Populations: Only anecdotal information exists on the location and abundance of amphibian and reptile species (turtles are of special concern). Research needs to be expanded in this area. This is a system-wide information need that could be addressed in conjunction with fur-bearer research.
  2. Spawning and Spawning Habitat Assessment: The status and health of fish spawning and rearing habitat should be assessed. Spawning patterns and specific locations of the spawning sites in this reach should be assessed. Spawning sites should also be assessed for possible impacts from siltation.

1st Chute to the Renfrew Dams

This reach is created by a natural constriction in the Bonnechere River at the  First Chute.

The Renfrew sewage treatment plant returns treated water to the river at the upper end of this reach. The water flow requirements of this sewage treatment plant impact the waterpower production potential of the two Renfrew generating stations. Discussions between Renfrew Power Generation (RPG) and the Town of Renfrew may result in a minimum flow agreement that will meet the sewage treatment needs of the community.

Information needs from page 81 Bonnechere River  Water Management Plan
  1. Status of Amphibian and Reptile Populations: Only anecdotal information exists on the location and abundance of amphibian and reptile species (turtles are of special concern). Research needs to be expanded in this area. This is a system-wide information need that could be addressed in conjunction with fur-bearer research.
  2. Minimum Flows: Specific minimum flows through each of the control structures on the Bonnechere River are required to maintain fish habitat and the overall health of the aquatic ecosystem. Those specific minimum flows need to be established and added to the operating regimes for the control structures on the river.
  3. Monitor the Whole Fish Community: MNR has done some assessment of the fish community on the Bonnechere and will continue to monitor fish populations under the district fish and wildlife program.
  4. Spawning and Spawning Habitat Assessment: It is recommended that the spawning patterns and specific locations of spawning sites in this reach be assessed.
  5. This information will be useful for updating operating regimes for the dams in Renfrew and upstream in order to maximize fish survival and optimize flows for power generation.

Renfew Dam to the Douglas Dam

From the Douglas Dam the river drops gradually along the limestone substrate. Leda clays are common in sections of this reach. Here the banks become steeper and the river meanders through small patches of private forest and pastures.  Beef and dairy farming are common on this reach. Livestock have access to the river and its tributaries in some places. Small wetlands, tributary creeks and the river itself are used for fishing, hunting and trapping.

Water is pumped from the river, provided to 10,000 residents in and around the Town of Renfrew, and returned to the river just downstream of the Renfrew power
stations through the sewage treatment plant.

The river drops a total of 19.5 m as it passes through the two generating stations at Renfrew (Renfrew #1 installed capacity 1000 kW, Renfrew #2 installed capacity 1000 kW). There is a historic suspension pedestrian bridge, originally constructed in the early 1800s, across the river between the two power stations.  The two dams and generating stations at Renfrew have been operated historically based on the electrical demands of the community. The new operating regime is based on past operations and attempts to provide more consistent flows to the downstream reaches.

Information needs from page 81 Bonnechere River  Water Management Plan
  1. Status of Amphibian and Reptile Populations: Only anecdotal information exists on the location and abundance of amphibian and reptile species (turtles are of special concern). Research needs to be expanded in this area. This is a system-wide information need that could be addressed in conjunction with fur-bearer research.
  2. Status of Fur-Bearer Populations: Only anecdotal information exists on the location and abundance of  fur-bearer species. Research could be expanded in this area. This is a system-wide information need that could be addressed in conjunction with amphibian and reptile research.
  3. Water Level Impacts on Near Shore Nesting Birds: Effects of high and low water levels on nesting locations (e.g. Killaloe Swamp, oxbows) should be investigated at different times of the year to see if the wetlands are dry enough in the summer and wet enough in the spring. There is a need to assess the operating regime impacts on the reproductive success of aquatic birds and vegetation in areas where this type of habitat occurs.
  4. Minimum Flows: Specific minimum flows through each of the control structures on the Bonnechere River are required to maintain fish habitat and the overall health of the aquatic ecosystem. Those specific minimum flows need to be established and added to the operating regimes for the control structures on the river.
  5. Spawning and Spawning Habitat Assessment: The spawning patterns and specific locations of the spawning sites in this reach should be assessed. The operating regime for the Douglas Dam should be monitored in terms of impacts to spawning sites and fish survival downstream of the dam.


Ċ
Info BRWP,
Jul 17, 2013, 12:59 PM
Ċ
Info BRWP,
Jul 17, 2013, 12:54 PM
Comments