Lakes, Streams & Creeks
The water quality of Lake Simcoe and its tributaries is fundamental to the quality of life we enjoy in the City of Barrie. Protection of these water bodies is essential for providing: clean drinking water, biodiversity, habitat for fish, wildlife and plant species, and recreational tourism.
Lake Simcoe is the largest inland lake in southern Ontario, outside of the Great Lakes. The lake is a valuable sport fishery and recreational asset which contributes about $200 million per year to the economy.
The City of Barrie's environmental indicators for surface water include water quality monitoring data from local streams and creeks. For information on Lake Simcoe and our watershed, please visit the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority to view the Watershed Report Card.
As a partner with local authorities and government, the City of Barrie has strived to rehabilitate priority habitats in our local watercourses to restore the health of the aquatic ecosystem and the coldwater fishery. In 2007 and 2010, the City of Barrie received the following awards from the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority for works pertaining to watercourse restoration:
- Water Conservation Award for the creek restoration work between the Marina and Toronto Street on Kidd’s Creek
- Award of Merit for landscaping and fish habitat work on Kidd’s Creek between the Marina and Toronto Street
- Water Conservation Award for the creek restoration work between Henry Street/Eccles Street and Donald Street on Kidd’s Creek
- Water Conservation Award for the creek restoration work on a Kidd’s Creek tributary between Wellington Street and Donald Street
Lake Simcoe Protection Plan and Strategy
Over the years, Lake Simcoe has experienced a wide range of pressures such as excessive nutrients, pollutants, invasive species, climate change and pressures from human activities.
The main concern effecting Lake Simcoe is the over-abundance of phosphorus. Excess phosphorus enters the lake from sewage plants, storm sewers, septic systems, and urban and agricultural run-off.
The Lake Simcoe Protection Act is a legislative framework for protecting Lake Simcoe watershed. The act includes:
- Lake Simcoe Protection Plan to help protect the watershed and restore the health of Lake Simcoe.
- Phosphorus Reduction Strategy to help reduce phosphorus levels in Lake Simcoe and ensure long-term protection of the Lake by placing targets to reduce high phosphorus levels in the Lake by almost 40%.
Drinking Water Source Protection
Drinking water source protection is the protection of water resources such as lakes, rivers and groundwater from contamination or overuse and is the first step in a multi-barrier approach to protecting our drinking water sources. Water is critical to all aspects of our lives. Protecting water sources is important because it ensures there is enough safe water for all of our uses, now and in the future.
The City of Barrie receives its drinking water from both surface water and groundwater sources. The City currently protects the drinking water sources by monitoring and managing our lakes, streams and creeks, by using up to date water treatment systems, by ensuring that pipes, watermains and storage towers are in good repair, by testing it regularly, and by the ongoing training of City staff.
It is important to protect our drinking water sources in order to safeguard human health, as well as to ensure there is an adequate supply of water now and in the future.
By developing and employing source water protection plans, impacts that human and natural activities have on the quality and supply of our water resources will be minimized. Please visit the South Georgian Bay Lake Simcoe Source Protection Region website for more information.
Protect Creeks and Lakes
Below are things that you can do to protect creeks and lakes:
- Use phosphorus-free cleaning products.
- Wash your car on your lawn or at a car washing facility to prevent wash water that may contain dirt, oil, grease, heavy metals, hazardous chemicals and soaps from entering the storm sewer system and ultimately Lake Simcoe.
- Have your septic system checked and cleaned every three to five years. For more information on funding opportunities for repairs or replacement of your septic system, please visit the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority website.
- Leave your shoreline natural to avoid erosion of sediment and preserve the ecosystem. Maintain a buffer of native vegetation between the water and where you mow your lawn. Native plants that create a buffer provide valuable habitat for animals that depend on living near water. They also help by reducing the amount of erosion on the shoreline as their roots help to hold the soil together.
- Keep garbage out of water bodies. Large items can reduce stream flow, damage habitat, and cause areas to flood. It can also be harmful to animals if they attempt to consume it.
- Although creating ponds in your yard can be aesthetically pleasing, deterring water from its original path can have adverse impacts downstream where the water once flowed. The conservation authority will approve or reject the diversion of the water and can suggest other alternatives. Contact your local conservation authority before altering the path of water in your yard.
- Eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on lawns and gardens. More information on this legislation as well as The Pesticides Act can be found at www.Ontario.ca/pesticideban.
The City of Barrie has many beaches on Lake Simcoe that are routinely monitored between July and September by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Water samples are analyzed for the presence of E.Coli to ensure the water quality is safe for recreational use. For more information please visit the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.