The Muskoka Watershed Council report card was released on Thursday and overall the news is good in terms of the condition of our water and overall ecosystem. Christy Doyle is Director of Environmental & Watershed Programs and she says the collection of four years of data tells a good story for residents.

The first report was issued in 2004 and over the years it has included threat indicators, data collected from various government agencies and also looks at the health of all forms of life on the lakes, in the forest and any other place within the 19 sub-watersheds that are measured.

She says the overall health of the watershed is excellent, but also notes global trends such as warming are bearing out in the local numbers. Part of the study looks at ice coverage of lakes, thickness and length of time on the lake. She says the data is not just anecdotal when ice fishermen talk about the good old days when they enjoyed three months of ice fishing. There are fewer days available to safely fish based on rising temperatures.

“Our climate data matches our global data to say that thirty years of local water temperatures and ice data are showing a warming trend,” she notes, adding “We can expect hotter, warmer, wetter weather.”

Areas to be mindful of for the future include a decline in the calcium content in our northern watershed areas, that could affect the overall food chain.

“Declining calcium can then affect the food web that requires it to thrive,” she says.

While not an official part of the report, plastic is not showing up as an issue for the Muskoka Watershed, and Doyle says she feels people are being mindful of using products with micro-beads directly in the lake, allowing septic and greywater systems to handle those.