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Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority

Skip Navigation LinksLake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority > Technical Reports and Studies

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Technical Reports and Studies​

We undertake or are involved in studies of both the region's subwatershed​ and the Lake Simcoe watershed as a whole. Studies may involve assembling data, creating computer simulations of the impacts of land use on water quality, documenting the state of the subwatersheds, and recommending courses of action.

Browse the list of our available reports and studies below. 

We've recently made some changes to our list of available reports 

Reports t​hat are currently available on our website will include a link, while other reports will be available on request. If you are unable to find a specific report, please contact communications@LSRCA.on.ca.​

Annual Water Balances, Total Phosphorus Budgets and Total Nitrogen and Chloride Loads to Lake Simcoe

​This report is meant to complement the corresponding Report on Phosphorus Loads to Lake Simcoe​ and provides technical details including the methodology used for all components of the phosphorus load calculations.

Annual Water Balances and Total Phosphorus Loads of Lake Simcoe (Published 2010-2011)

Adapting Forestry Programs for Climate Change

LSRCA has undertaken a comprehensive study into the impacts of climate change on tree planting and forest management, and the ways in which these programs might be adapted for climate change. This project is intended to provide knowledge transfer to LSRCA staff, municipal staff and members of environmental non-governmental organizations active in the Lake Simcoe watershed, on how to include climate change considerations in planning for afforestation, natural area enhancement and restoration and urban tree planting​.

Adapting Forestry Programs for Climate Change​ (Published: 2018)

Aquatic Macrophyte Survey of Cook's Bay​

An inventory of the aquatic plants of Cook's Bay was conducted in August of 2006, to contrast data collected in 1984 and 1987 and to provide a baseline against future change. Macrophyte growths are dense enough to have had significant effects on water quality, and management options are limited to manual harvesting, nutrient reduction, biological control, and chemical treatment. Although manual harvesting along the eastern shoreline is ongoing, the bay is too large to implement a large-scale harvesting operation, and nutrient inputs have and will continue to be minimized. Biological and chemical control options are not feasible on such a large scale.

Aquatic Macrophyte Survey of Cook's Bay​​ (Published: 2006)​

Aquatic Plants in Lake Simcoe: Distribution, Environmental Controls and Utility as Ecological Indicators

In 2008, LSRCA investigated the aquatic plants in Lake Simcoe with respect to species diversity, distribution, biomass, and utility as indicators of lake trophic status. While previous studies (1984, 1987, 2006) focused on Cook's Bay, this study covered the entire lake area and identified four environmental variables controlling plant biomass: depth, substrate type, nutrient loading, and subwatershed area.

In comparison with previous studies in Cook's Bay, the plant community has been altered (since 1984) by invasive species (i.e. Eurasian Watermilfoil), has a greater maximum depth of colonization (10.5 m in 2008, 6.0 m in 1984), and has almost tripled in biomass (1.2 kg/m2 in 1984, 3.1 kg/m2 in 2008).

Aquatic Plants in Lake Simcoe: Distribution, Environmental Controls and Utility as Ecological Indicators​ (Published: 2011)

Assessing Stormwater Management Pond Performance

​​This report documents a project that investigated the impact of external and in-pond environmental drivers on the performance, efficiency, and functioning of urban stormwater management ponds in the southern portion of the Lake Simcoe Watershed. These ponds were originally designed to intercept and reduce the sediment load in surface run-off before it reaches receiving waters such as rivers and streams. As nutrients are typically attached to suspended particles, when these ponds are functioning efficiently there is also a reduction in nutrient loading to receiving waters.

Assessing Stormwater Management Pond Performance​ (Published: 2020)​

Chemical Contaminants in Lake Simcoe and its Tributaries

In 2015, a study was undertaken to investigate levels of chemical contaminants in the surface water and sediments of Lake Simcoe and its tributaries. The contaminants included in this study were chosen based on historical use within the watershed, previous research, and literature from similar areas in the Great Lakes Region. As such, this study included: petroleum hydrocarbons (or PHCs); polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); phenols; metals, including chromium and mercury; organochlorine pesticides (OCPs), including DDT and its metabolites; neutral chlorinated compounds (NCCs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).​​

Chemical Contaminants in Lake Simcoe and its Tributaries (Published: 2020)​

Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

​There is no doubt that our climate is changing. We have the data to show it and we know that people are feeling its impact. We also know that our approach to climate change adaptation needs to be strategic. That’s why one of our strategic priorities for 2016-2020 was to develop a Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. 

This strategy reviews the potential impacts of a changing climate on watershed function and recommends changes to our programs and services to ensure they remain effective at protecting the Lake Simcoe watershed in projected future climates.​​ Read a summary of the report.​

Climate Change Adaptation Strategy​ (Published: 2020)

Climate Change Mitigation Strategy

The pervasive and significant impacts climate change is projected to have on Lake Simcoe and its watershed highlights the importance of taking action to reduce or mitigate greenhouse gas levels. This is especially critical if we are to help achieve a change from the current business as usual scenario to one of lower impact such as the mid-carbon scenario (RCP 4.5). Although the Lake Simcoe watershed is a small player in the global fight against climate change, collective action through both mitigation and adaptation will help to lessen the potential negative impacts on our watershed and ultimately, the planet as a whole. ​

Our Climate Mitigation Strategy identifies the main sources and sinks of greenhouse gases within the watershed. This overall understanding of the watershed's carbon budget will feed into recommendations for how we can mitigate climate change.

​Climate Change Mitigation Strategy​ (Published: 2020)

Distribution and Change in Impervious Cover in the Lake Simcoe Watershed

Comprehensive air photo coverage of the Lake Simcoe watershed in 2002/2003, 2008, and 2013 have permitted the development of a time series of land cover maps, and an analysis of changes in impervious cover. In 2013, impervious cover in the watershed was at 4.3%. This general land cover class, which includes roads, parking lots, and buildings has increased since 2002, as the watershed’s population has increased. 

This project improved resolution of l​and cover mapping in the Lake Simcoe watershed to permit more accurate tracking of changes in impervious land use and to support more focused delivery of programs related to urban stormwater, including LID implementation, stormwater retrofits, and salt reduction programming.

Distribution and Change in Impervious Cover in the Lake Simcoe Watershed

Equitable Responsibility for Transformative Design: A systems-based approach to stormwater management​

We've been en​gaged in a ground-breaking research study in an effort to improve stormwater management, introduce savings, and address the impacts of urbanization, degraded water quality, flooding and climate change.

The project, “Equitable Responsibility for Transformative Design: A systems-based approach to watershed management" demonstrated that improved environmental outcomes can be achieved at lower costs if stormwater is planned at a watershed-scale and considers the use of both publicly and privately owned lands.

summary report can be accessed here​ and the full technical report can be provided by contacting communications@LSRCA.on.ca

Erosion and Sediment Control Research Study

​Published 2016

The purpose of the Erosion and Sediment Control Policies and Practices Research Study for the Lake Simcoe Watershed is for the LSRCA to work collaboratively with local stakeholders to support improvements to erosion and sediment control practices within the Lake Simcoe Watershed, through funding support from the MOECC. The long term goal of this study is to reduce the overall impact of urban stormwater on Lake Simcoe and its tributaries.

Contact communications@LSRCA.on.ca​ to request a copy of this report​​​

​Groundwater Studies

Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas Guidance Document​

Recharge areas are areas of land over which precipitation infiltrates into the ground and flows to a groundwater aquifer.  These areas are considered significant when they help to maintain the water level in an aquifer that supplies drinking water, or supplies groundwater to a cold water ecosystem that is dependent on this recharge to maintain its ecological function.  Recognizing the importance of these areas to sustaining a healthy watershed, the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan includes a number of policies to help identify and protect significant groundwater recharge areas.  Under these policies, significant groundwater recharge areas throughout the Lake Simcoe watershed have been identified.

This document, prepared in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ministry of the Environment, and watershed municipalities, aims to assist municipalities in protecting and restoring these important areas.

Significant Groundwater Recharge Ar​eas (SGRA) Guidance Document (Published: 2014)

Ecologically Significant Groundwater Recharge Area ​- Maskinonge, East Holland and West Holland Subwatersheds

Ecologically Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas (ESGRA) are identified areas of land that are responsible for replenishing groundwater systems, and those that support sensitive areas like coldwater streams and significant wetlands. Landscape recharge areas or Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas have been previously characterized during the Source Protection Program and the ESGRA assessment process to determine which recharge areas support ecological features within the wa​tershed.

​Maskinonge, East Holland and West Holland River - ESGRA Assessment​ ​(Published: 2015)

Tier 2 Water Budget and Ecologically Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas (ESGRA) Studies​

The Lake Simcoe Protection Plan (LSPP) requires Tier 2 Water Budget Studies to be completed for all subwatersheds within the Lake Simcoe Basin that were not previously completed through Source Water Protection initiatives.

This requirement is part of an initiative to monitor progress in achieving the water quantity-related objectives of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan; namely, to support the maintenance of adequate flows to maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems in the Lake Simcoe watershed.  In addition, the LSPP aims to identify and protect primary Ecologically Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas (ESGRAs) that sustain discharge to important surface water features within subwatersheds such as streams and wetlands.

Ecologically Significant Groundwater Recharge Areas (ESGRAs) are identified as areas of land that are responsible for supporting groundwater systems that sustain sensitive features like coldwater streams and wetlands. To establish the ecological significance of the recharge area, a linkage must be present between the recharge area and the Ecologically Sensitive Feature (e.g. a reach of a coldwater stream, a wetland, or an Area of Natural or Scientific Interest (ANSI)).

The identification of an ESGRA is not related to the volume of recharge that may be occurring, rather they represent pathways in which recharge, if it occurred, would reach that feature. While delineating ESGRAs is an important task in establishing the linkage between a recharge area and an Ecologically Sensitive Feature it is not a certainty that ESGRAs will coincide with SGRAs, as they may not support high volumes of recharge.  While ESGRAs and SGRAs are not mutually exclusive, the areas where they do coincide support high volumes of recharge and Ecologically Sensitive Features.

An initial study carried out by Earthfx Inc. (2012) provided an outline for the methodology to be carried out for this and subsequent ESGRA studies.

Tier 3 Water Budget and Local Area Risk Assessments​

Under the requirements of the Clean Water Act, municipalities may be required to complete a Tier Three Water Budget and Local Area Risk Assessment (Tier Three Assessment) to assess the ability of the municipal water sources to meet committed and planned water demands. Tier Three Assessments are required where municipal wells or intakes are located in subwatersheds that were classified as having a Moderate or Significant stress level as part of a Tier Two Subwatershed Stress Assessment completed under the requirements of the Clean Water Act.

The Tier 3 Assessments identify municipal wells or intakes that may be unable to meet their allocated water demands under average or drought conditions.

Infiltration Based LID Suitability East Holland

Determining the most suitable locations for infiltration based LID practices requires an understanding of the shallow subsurface including the geology and hydrogeology. To help guide infiltration based LID placement, the Shallow Subsurface Characterization Project aims to provide an improved understanding of the shallow subsurface through the development of a GIS layer that identifies the suitability of locations within the East Holland River Subwatershed for infiltration based LID projects.

Infiltration Based LID Suitability East Holland

Lake Simcoe Basin Stormwater Management and Retrofit Opportunities

Stormwater runoff represents a major source of pollution to Lake Simcoe and its tributaries. The lake, which is already showing signs of impairment due to anthropogenic activities, is under increasing stress due to urban growth. The purpose of this study is to create a complete, consistent and contemporary data set of all urban catchments, outlets, and existing and potential locations of Stormwater Management Facilities, as well as to calculate the phosphorus load associated with urban stormwater runoff.

Lake Simcoe Basin Stormwater Management and Retrofit Opportunities

​Lake Simcoe Comprehensive Monitoring Strategy

The Lake Simcoe Comprehensive Monitoring Strategy (CMS) identifies the state of monitoring, data management and reporting of environmental information on Lake Simcoe and its watershed, and makes recommendations based on the requirements of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan. The CMS was compiled by a multi-agency working group consisting of members from the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministries of Natural Resources and Forestry, Environment and Climate Change, and Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. It was released as a companion to the Lake Simcoe Monitoring Report, 2014.

Contact communications@LSRCA.on.ca​ to request a copy of this report​​​​​​

Lake Simcoe Watershed Environmental Monitoring Report​

The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority and its partners continue to work to improve conditions in the watershed.​ Some of the most important activities that the LSRCA undertakes are through our monitoring program. Through this program, LSRCA staff monitor the watershed’s tributary streams and rivers, as well as conditions in the lake. This monitoring work supports a number of the LSRCA’s other programs, including subwatershed planning, helping to identify potential areas for undertaking stewardship works, assessing the effectiveness of on-the-ground projects that have been completed, verifying the effectiveness of new technologies and practices, and helping to pinpoint areas of concern in the watershed. ​

Lake Simcoe Watershed Environmental Monitoring Report​ (Published: 2013)

​Mapping Expected Road Mortality Hotspots for Wildlife

Roads have significant impacts on the ability of wildlife to move throughout their home ranges. Direct mortality of ​animals related to roads can be particularly significant for species such as frogs, turtles, and salamanders, which travel significant distances from wetlands to uplands to complete their breeding cycle (Fahrig and Rytwinski, 2009). This study tests land cover maps and traffic data to predict areas of wildlife-vehicle collisions hotspots, with the ultimate goal of providing roads planners with maps of areas on which to focus efforts.

​Mapping Expected Road Mortality Hotspots for Wildlife​ (Published: 2015)​

Modelling of Environmental Flow Targets for the Lovers Creek

Environmental Flows characterize the quantity, timing and quality of river flows needed to support the ecological health and function of a river while still recognizing the human needs and uses of the river.  This report is the result of a pilot study intended to develop and test a methodology for developing an Environmental Flow regime for the Lovers Creek subwatershed.

Modelling of Environmental Flow Targets for the Lovers Creek Subwatershed​ (Published: 2015)​

Natural Heritage Land Securement Project 2019 - 2025

This report outlines our land securement target areas for natural heritage protection and restoration/enhancement opportunities, tools for land securement, land securement/management funding issues, funding partners, and report recommendations.​

Natural Heritage System Land Securement Project Document ​(Published: 2019)

Natural Heritage System and Restoration Strategy

The Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority has developed a Natural Heritage System and Restoration Strategy for the Lake Simcoe watershed. This Natural Heritage System is an update to the previous Natural Heritage System for the Lake Simcoe Watershed, Phase 1 (Beacon Environmental & LSRCA, 2007).​

Natural Heritage System and Restoration Strategy ​(Published: 2018)

Parking Lot Design Guidelines to Promote Salt Reduction

In an effort to reduce winter salt application rates in the Lake Simcoe watershed, LSRCA has developed design guidelines for parking lots on commercial and institutional properties to promote the construction of sites that do not require as much salt application for winter maintenance. This report summarizes the project and includes design feature drawings, fact sheets and site plan design drawings.

Parking Lot Design Guidelines to Promote Salt Reduction (Published: 2017)​

Report on Phosphorus Loads to Lake Simcoe

Phosphorus was identified as a problem for the health of the lake in the 1970s. We have been monitoring it to help us understand its sources and impacts. The purpose of the report is to share with our watershed partners the most current data about the amount of phosphorus entering the lake.

Phosphorus Loads Update, 2015- 2017
Phosphorus Loads Re​port FAQs 

Residential Stormwater Management Pilot Project

Downspout Redirection 2017

This project investigates the feasibility of running a cost-effective residential stormwater management program that focusses on redirecting downspouts away from impervious surfaces towards areas where infiltration can occur. 

Residential Stormwater Management Pilot Project

Retrofitting of Urban Stormwater Management Facilities Using Innovative Technologies: Comparison of Three Innovative Solutions

Through the Ontario Ministry of Environment's Showcasing Water Innovation program, the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority worked with our community, municipal and other government partners to implement stormwater management retrofits. 

Three facilities recognized in our watershed management plans were identified for retrofit: George Richardson (Newmarket), Colony Trail (East Gwillimbury), and Lincoln Pond (Uxbridge). In this case study we compare the efficiency of three innovative technology approaches to retrofitting stormwater management ponds, each designed to decrease the level of phosphorous and other pollutants discharged to the receiving water body.

Retrofitting of Urban Stormwater Management Facilities Using Innovative Technologies

Showcasing Water Innovation: Stormwater Performance Monitoring Report​ (Published: 2013)

​Showcasing Water Innovation: Appendix

Salt Vulnerable Areas Within the Lake Simcoe Watershed

The purpose of this study is to identify and map geographic areas in the Lake Simcoe watershed that are vulnerable to water quality impairment caused by the application of salt for the purpose of winter maintenance of roads, parking lots, and sidewalks (i.e. ‘salt vulnerable areas’). The results of this study will be used to help focus education and outreach projects, and will be provided to watershed municipalities for use in road operations and strategic planning.

Salt Vulnerable Areas within the Lake Simcoe watershed (Published: 2015)​​

​Stream Monitoring in the Tributaries of Lake Simcoe: Fish 

Technical Progress Series in Stream Monitoring: Report No.1

As part of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority tributary monitoring program, fish assemblages have been monitored since 2002 and water temperature data has been collected since 2003. The purpose of this monitoring program is to track the health of fish populations in the streams of the Lake Simcoe watershed and to assess spatial and temporal trends.

​Stream Monitoring in the Tributaries of Lake Simcoe

​Stormwater Database Report: Phase II

This study investigates way to improve the ability of municipalities to adopt best practices for stormwater management works inspection, maintenance, and record keeping. 

Stormwater Database Report (Published: 2018)

Stormwater Inspection and Record Management Best Practices, Data Model Design, and Comprehensive Report​

Urban stormwater represents approximately 31% of the phosphorus entering Lake Simcoe. Municipalities, the Province, and LSRCA focus their efforts on managing this urban run-off, including the establishment and maintenance of stormwater management ponds, oil-grit separators, and more recently, low impact development features. This data model contributes to this shared goal of stormwater management by defining key information about the location, type, and condition of these features which municipalities can track within a GIS environment. Ultimately, this stormwater data model will ensure that data is collected consistently across the watershed to allow the sharing of information amongst government agencies, and to support improved maintenance of stormwater management facilities.

Stormwater Inspection and Record Management Best Practices, Data Model Design, and Comprehensive Report​​ (Published: 2017)

Stormwater Pond Maintenance and Anoxic Conditions Report​

Urban stormwater runoff is widely recognized as a significant source of pollutants to Lake Simcoe and accounts for an estimated 14 percent of annual phosphorus loading. Therefore, interception and treatment of these waters is crucial to maintain the ecological health of receiving streams and lakes. This is most commonly achieved through the use of stormwater ponds of which there are 135 quality facilities in the Lake Simcoe watershed.

In 2010, a survey of 98 ponds was conducted to evaluate the efficiency of these ponds as compared with their original design efficiency and investigate the prevalence of low oxygen conditions in stormwater ponds. The study found that the majority of ponds are experiencing low oxygen conditions and require some degree of clean out maintenance and are therefore not achieving the nutrient reductions previously assumed.

Stormwater Pond Maintenance and Anoxic Conditions Report​​

Technical Bulletins: Salt

Sand as an alternative to winter salt

​This technical bulletin will explore the efficacy of the use of sand for winter maintenance, its associated environmental issues, and where its use is most appropriate.

This technical brief discusses a number of these alternatives to traditional rock salt, including chloride deicers, acetate deicers, and agricultural by-products (organics).

Friction and Parking Lots

Two of the main considerations contractors face in maintaining parking lots in winter are: what application rate should be used; and what is the level of service expected by the client, for which the bare pavement return time is a common measure. In order to better understand these questions, LSRCA obtained a friction tester - here we present some of the findings of this study.

​Valuing Natural Capital in the Lake Simcoe watershed

The people, animals and plants that live in the Lake Simcoe watershed rely on the ecosystem goods and services that the natural environment provides for their existence. Green Analytics was commissioned by LSRCA to provide an updated assessment of ecosystem service values provided by the natural capital resources within the Lake Simcoe watershed.

​​Ecosystem Service Values (Published: 2017)​​

Using Wildlife Ecopassages to Reduce Turtle Road Mortality in the Lake Simcoe watershed

Roads and other transportation infrastructure, such as bridges, have been shown to negatively affect wildlife populations on both small scales (e.g. vehicle-wildlife collisions) and more broadly (e.g. habitat fragmentation). However, research has shown that these effects can be mitigated through the implementation of wildlife ecopassages, which restrict wildlife access to roadways while allowing safe passage across them.

Using Wildlife Ecopassages to Reduce Turle Road Mortality in the Lake Simcoe Watershed (Published: 2018)​