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Your Link to Muskoka's Water!


Muskoka Data

The District Municipality of Muskoka's Lake System Health Monitoring Program is comprised of recreational water quality monitoring, a shoreline survey program, and technical assistance to lake associations interested in undertaking a volunteer based biological monitoring program.


Recreational Water Quality

Muskoka has monitored recreational water quality for 25 years. The recreational water quality monitoring program is a field based program that monitors approximately 160 lakes across Muskoka on a rotating basis depending on development pressures and the specific characteristics of the lake. The purpose of the program is to establish a long-term record of key water quality parameters so that trends in water quality can be identified.

The sampling program includes tests for Secchi depth (a measure of water clarity) , phosphorus concentrations (a measure of nutrient enrichment), dissolved oxygen and temperature. A number of chemical parameters are also tested, including pH, conductivity, dissolved organic carbon, alkalinity, nitrates, sulphuric acid, iron, and chlorine.

Learn more about Monitoring Parameters


Lake Data Sheets

Lake Data Sheets have been developed for each lake that is monitored for the above parameters.


Shoreline Land Use Maps

In 2002, Muskoka enhanced its Lake System Health Monitoring Program to include shoreline surveys. These surveys collect data on shoreline vegetation, shoreline structures and the first 20 metres of land surrounding a waterbody. This information is then mapped and provided to lake associations, Area Municipalities and other interested parties for planning purposes. Approximately 4 to 5 shorelines are surveyed each summer.

Visit the Shoreline Land Use Maps section for lakes that have been surveyed.


Biological Monitoring Data

In 2003, a Biological Monitoring Program was developed for lake associations interested in becoming more involved in lake monitoring and broader lake planning.  Each year, summer staff are available to train lake residents to undertake volunteer monitoring programs that are based on standard protocols such as plantwatch, frogwatch, forest health and benthic analysis.  Ongoing support is provided to meet the needs of individual associations.

The objective of the biological monitoring program is to develop a network of monitoring partners to collect a broad range of chemical and biological data, physical lake attributes and shoreline development data that are in a useful form and can be made accessible to individuals, associations, businesses and government agencies.

The Biological Monitoring Program focuses on EMAN's benthic and terrestrial plot protocols, which helped supplement the existing lake monitoring and shoreline land use data.

  • Benthic Macroinvertebrate Monitoring

The benthic macroinvertebrate sampling protocol requires the collection and classification of macro-invertebrates from a variety of developed and undeveloped sites of the near shore environment. The program pilots the standard protocol for benthic analysis being developed by the Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network, spearheaded by the Ministry of the Environment through the Dorset Environmental Science Centre.

The Kick and Sweep method is used to collect samples and the Teaspoon method is the sub-sampling method used to collect organisms from within the sample.

Visit the Biological Monitoring Data section for lakes that participate in the program.

  • Terrestrial Plot Monitoring

Terrestrial forest plots require the establishment of a 20-metre by 20-metre permanent plot. All the trees are then identified, tagged and classified according to health. Monitoring is done on a yearly basis within the plot. Various other aspects of forest health can also be monitored within the standard plot, including decay rates, tree regeneration, lichen diversity, and salamander occurrence.

Terrestrial forest plots are established and monitored based on the protocol developed by EMAN.

Visit the Biological Monitoring Data section for lakes that participate in the program.


Recreational Water Quality
Muskoka has monitored water quality for almost 30 years.

Lake Data Sheets
How is the water quality in your lake?

Shoreline Land Use Surveys
How much of the shoreline on your lake is natural?

Biological Monitoring Data
Benthic and terrestrial plot monitoring data.