Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

The Lay of the Water Over Mississippi Lands

The Lay of the Water Over Mississippi Lands

By Cathy Keddy

The Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists’ (MVFN) public lecture series, Biodiversity and Vital Connections for Fauna, Flora, and People, continues April 21 with the seventh presentation, “The Lay of the Water Over Mississippi Lands.” You do not need to be an expert to enjoy these lectures—just bring your curiosity or appreciation for the environment and wild nature.

Larkin and Keddy photo (1024x768)

















How often do you give a thought to a glass of water? Well, if you live in Lanark, the answer may be quite often, however for most of us the answer is likely to be, rarely if ever. Most of us take this essential resource for granted—the water that comprises 70% of our body mass, expecting always to have an unending supply to do everything we wish. We even have the luxury of using water fit for drinking to flush our toilets! On average we use 300 l of water each day! Compare this to the water ‘footprint’ of the average citizen of Mozambique (4 l/d), Cambodia (15 l/d), England (149 l/d), Japan (374 l/d) or the US (575 l/d).

Here in the Mississippi Valley, why do we have such a plentiful supply of good, clean water? The answer lies in the lay of the water over and under the lands of the Mississippi watershed. Watershed . . . catchment area . . .drainage basin . . . whatever term we use, water, the essential element of all life in our area enters the Mississippi River Valley we call home, spends time in it, and then leaves.

From its headwaters above Upper Mazinaw Lake till it reaches the Ottawa River, the Mississippi River, over 200 km in length, is associated with over 250 lakes and countless wetlands. With 19 constructed dams (average of one every 10 km!), its flow is governed largely by human desires. Covering an area roughly 3765 km2 (3/4 the size of PEI) the lands of the watershed include large forests, small tracts of agricultural land, limited industry, and the many small towns and villages we know so well. The surface geology ranges from a thin veneer of till over Precambrian rock in the northwest (great for groundwater infiltration), to thick Champlain Sea clays near the outlet (great for surface runoff in a storm event).

At MVFN’s upcoming presentation, speaker Patricia Larkin will explore water diversity and tell us about the lay of our water and how land cover, surficial geology and flow influence its quality and quantity for our use and the health of our natural environment. Larkin is an award-winning environmental educator who delivered the successful MVFN-sponsored Engaging Grade 8’s in Source Water Protection program in local schools in 2009. Larkin currently is a member of the Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Committee and recent winner of a Tri-Valley Conservation Award for her work in protecting local waterways and fostering an understanding of water as a resource.

Learn the lay of your water, and develop an appreciation for it. Wet behind the ears about water? Then bring your hard, heavy, fresh, and stagnant water questions to this presentation “The Lay of the Water Over Mississippi Lands,” Thursday April 21, 7:30pm., Almonte United Church Hall, Almonte. All are welcome ($5 fee for non-members). For further information please contact MVFN’s Program Chair Cathy Keddy at 613-257-3089.


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First Source Protection Committee Meeting for Mississippi-Rideau

Media Release

December 6, 2007


The first official meeting of the newly-formed Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Committee (SPC) will be held on Monday, December 17 at the Baxter Conservation Area near Kars.  The 15-members of the Committee and Chair Janet Stavinga will be on hand to “meet and greet” the public from 6 – 7 pm followed by the first SPC business meeting starting at 7 pm.  The meeting is open to the public and everyone is very welcome to attend.

The SPC represents the major municipal, business and interest group sectors in the huge area of the Mississippi and Rideau valley watersheds.   They are charged with guiding and supporting the source protection planning process over the next five years of research, technical study, public consultation and development of municipal drinking water source protection plans.

Representing all watershed municipalities are Scott Bryce (Clerk/Treasurer, Village of Westport), Alex Cullen and Christine Leadman (Councillors, City of Ottawa), Paul Knowles (CAO, Carleton Place), and Eleanor Renaud (Councillor, Township of Elizabethtown-Kitley).   Representing economic sectors are Richard Fraser (agriculture), Peter McLaren (agriculture), Domenic Idone (aggregates), Beverly Millar (small business) and Jim Riopelle (golf courses).  Representing public interests are George Braithwaite (rural general public), Carol Dillon (Friends of the Tay Watershed), Patricia Larkin (non-governmental organizations), Randy Malcolm (Algonquins of Ontario) and Mary Trudeau (Ottawa Riverkeeper).

The formation of the local Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Committee is a result of the Clean Water Act (CWA) which was passed by the Ontario Legislature in December, 2006.  The CWA is part of Ontario’s response to the Walkerton tragedy of 2000.  The CWA prescribes a process of watershed-based research, analysis and actions rooted in good science, public participation and sustained effort for keeping Ontario’s sources of drinking water safe.  The province is divided into 19 Source Protection Regions for purposes of source water protection.   Each of these 19 regions has a Source Protection Committee directing the production of Source Protection Plans to protect primarily municipal drinking water sources in their area.  The Mississippi-Rideau is one of those 19 regions.

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For more information:   (on Tuesday Dec 11 please)

Sommer Casgrain-Robertson

Communications Specialist

Mississippi-Rideau Source Protection Region

613-692-3571 ext 1147 or 1-800-267-3504 ext 1147

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Conservation: Wetland Protection Policies

Wetland Protection Policies recommended by MVFN (2002)
Here is the final wording arrived at regarding protection of locally significant wetland  resources in Mississippi Mills, which was submitted on Friday September 13, 2002 to the Mississippi Mills Official Plan Steering Committee.Thank you to the dozen or so members who sent in comments and suggestions.

Recommendations from Preliminary Issues Report from MVFN.

This report was arrived at through a group meeting with representative from Ducks Unlimited, follow-up requests for comments from group members, Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Canadian Environmental Law Association, OMNR officials and members of MVFN plus research of relevant documents and publications. (See references below)

Issue 3.1 statement 1

…………should we protect locally significant wetlands (LSW’s)?

1) It was a unanimous “yes”. MM should establish a policy of precaution-protection until adequate and informed data and science is available to better understand the function and value of  wetlands locally and within a watershed context.

2) The group felt we should make the first entry in the OP not too detailed but to build in triggers or flags that would show up in site-specific cases concerning LSW’ s.

3) Consultation, connectivity and education should be the main process used in protection of our wetlands.

4) Locally Significant Wetlands (LSW’s) should be identified, through a classification process. The most significant ones should be on an initial list in the OP, with provision for additions at later dates though amendment to the OP.

5) Most locally significant wetlands (4-7) have already been identified by MNR. These should be our initial list entered in the OP.

6) Stewardship Council, field naturalists, Ducks Unlimited, local Fish and Game Clubs, landowners  and EAC should be involved in the education process.

7) A buffer zone should be mentioned but not defined except in definition section. Buffer requirements should be site specific as each case arises.

8 ) At least initially, only permanent LSWs should be considered for listing.

9) Strong recognition of land owners as stewards should be registered in the OP.

10) References must be made to other relevant Acts i.e.: Drainage, Riparian Rights etc.

11) We should steer clear of the beavers issue and also temporary wetlands.

12) Paramount is recognition of importance of all wetlands in their role of protecting and enhancing the ground water.

13) Private landowners impacted by enforcement of regulations concerning LSWs should be considered for compensation where applicable

14) As the natural heritage policy, as set forth in the PPS, allows for varying degrees of protection at the municipal level, MM should take a progressive approach and strive for the Pathfinder Policies level.

15) As MM is divided almost in half between the Canadian Shield and St.Lawrence/Great Lakes Lowland significant areas, it is the recommendation of this report that the PPS concerning Canadian Shield wetlands be adopted for all of MM.

16) Issues involving LSWs should be discussed with land owner groups on a continuing basis.

17) MM must strive for broad public support on wetland policies implementation.    


Ducks Unlimited-Scott Muir, Jamie Fortune (Ducks Unlimited is conducting a pilot project to test new technologies for wetland identification and delineation. Results should be available by year’s end.)

Federation of Ontario Naturalists, Linda Pimm.

Canadian Environmental Law Society-Theresa McLenaghan

OMNR-Shaun Thompson

Natural Heritage Planning Policy in Ontario-A Review of County and Regional Plans Aug. 1999

Natural Heritage Reference Manual for PPS 2.3    OMNR June, 1999

Rural Wetlands in Ontario-A Guide to Landowners-Ducks Unlimited

Caring For Your Land-A Stewardship Handbook-University of Guelph 1998

Environmental Commissioner’s Reports-All issues

Submitted by Cliff Bennett on behalf of MVFN    

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Conservation: Ground Water Protection Policies

Ground Water Protection Policies recommended by MVFN, 2002
StreamHere is the final wording arrived at regarding protection of groundwater resources in Mississippi Mills, which was submitted Thursday, September 12, 2002 to the Mississippi Mills Official Plan Steering Committee. Many thanks to the dozen or so members who sent in comments and suggestions.Provincial Policy Statement

2.4  Water Quality and Quantity2.4.1  The quality and quantity of ground water and surface water and the function of sensitive ground water recharge/discharge area, aquifers and headwaters will be protected or enhanced.

MVFN Recommendations

Identification and inventory

Identify and delineate size, quantity, quality and location of all aquifer systems including headwaters and sensitive ground water recharge/discharge areas within the boundaries of Mississippi Mills, as well as those shared with adjacent municipalities.

Conduct an inventory of all current users of groundwater and amounts used, related to each specific aquifer. Inventory shall be updated every five years.

Develop an agreed upon criteria for assessing sources of discharge/recharge areas on private property.

Protection and Management

New industrial, commercial and institutional development requiring use of ground water shall necessitate an environmental impact study (EIS).

Protect,  through buffer zones, site plan controls and other control mechanisms,   all groundwater ecosystems.

Conduct an assessment report on all potential and known threats affecting the health of groundwater, including cumulative impacts. This report shall be renewed every five years.

Development activities and land uses which impact the land’s capacity to absorb rainwater into existing aquifer systems, shall be restricted.

Groundwater, as a renewable resource, must be managed sustainably. No extraction from an aquifer system shall be allowed which consumes groundwater at a greater rate than can be replenished by that system.

All development activities and land uses which may cause contamination of groundwater including recharge/discharge areas, shall be disallowed.

No new extraction of groundwater activities shall be allowed unless applicant can prove such water taking will have no detrimental impact on existing uses.

Private landowners impacted by enforcement of regulations concerning protection of groundwater and recharge/discharge areas shall be considered for compensation.

The municipality shall recognize and cooperate with landowners as stewards of their own environment.


Provincial Policy Statement    2.4.1

Having Regard-Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Annual Report 2001/2002

Changing Perspectives-Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Annual Report 1999/2000

Caring for Your Land-A Stewardship Handbook      University of Guelph

Natural Heritage Planning Policy in Ontario-A Review of County and Regional OPs

Natural Heritage Reference Manual-For Policy 2.3 of PPS     OMNR

Input from Canadian Evironmental Law Assocation, Ducks Unlimited, Federation of Ontario Naturalists and numerous comments from MVFN members.

Submitted by Cliff Bennett on behalf of MVFN    

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