Executive Summary

The primary goals of this report are:

  • To identify, estimate and communicate the basic parameters that influence the condition of Kashagawigamog Lake in Haliburton County;
  • To assess the historical, fundamental and natural baseline condition of the lake and where possible assess trends in lake health and/or the current condition of the lake;
  • To identify, estimate and communicate the conditions of the surrounding environment (the lake’s upland basin), which have an impact on the lake and which affect resident’s health and enjoyment;
  • To highlight and characterize areas of sensitivity and to list, and, where possible evaluate activities that may be having a negative impact on the lake and its residents.

Lake Kashagawigamog experiences the highest total use for travel, fishing, cottaging and recreation by individuals, currently and historically, within Haliburton County, however little to no historical, long- term or current concrete data exists to provide for definitive answers or to perfectly weight parameters, but rather information and parameters are only sufficient to derive sound assessments and to suggest areas of sensitivity because it is combined and because it highlights issues repeatedly. Trend analyses are also limited according to the limits of the data.

The natural conditions resulting from the physical situation and chemical processes of Kashagawigamog Lake give rise to a mesotrophic system- a lake having a mid-level of nutrient enrichment (from nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous). The sand within the lake provides a natural and readily available source of phosphorous, and the large amount of shallow areas exposed to sunlight give rise to plant growth. Therefore Kashagawigamog Lake should have good water clarity, with a moderate amount of plant material within shallows of the lake basin, and with water temperatures that support both cold and warm water fishes.

The available data strongly suggests that Kashagawigamog Lake is experiencing a trend towards increasing levels of nutrients (eutrophication), with reductions in water clarity and dramatic reductions in thermoclines (cold water areas and related oxygen levels). This shift in conditions may also be revealed in an alteration of fisheries distribution and diversity, in prevalent conditions that favour warm water and invasive species, and in a deterioration of nurseries and near shore habitats where naturally occurring aquatic plants are replaced by “barrenness” areas and algae or slime.

There are naturally occurring areas of sensitivity on Kashagawigamog Lake due to its:

  • Narrowness (the ability to see to the shore from the opposite shore at any point) so that boat wakes and wave action readily reaches shorelines;
  • The sandy shorelines and substrate that are easily eroded, sensitive to wave action, and that are affected by drops in water levels that expose and strip plant materials thereby increasing those affects from wave action even further;
  • The sandy substrate that makes nutrients such as phosphorous (naturally found in soils) readily available and soil disturbance that easily increases the release of these nutrients;
  • The position of the lake in the watershed as a receiving body so that the lake is not only affected by the level of development and pollutants emitted from immediately surrounding lands but also from the pollutants and water quality that is directed into Kashagawigamog Lake from the headwater lakes of Drag Lake, Head Lake, and Soyers Lake.

Although exacerbating issues cannot be adequately weighted, some activities are easily noted as being problematic. These activities are: fluctuating water levels, especially drawdowns; shoreline development and alterations (management practices, and removal of native shoreline plants), boat traffic and related boat wakes, septic system effluents, and pollution from industrial activities (landfill and roadways). Other problematic issues identified include the conversion of wetland habitats and removal of natural forest cover, with increasing development, and lawn fertilization.