The Muskoka River Water Management Plan allows for initially higher spring water levels resulting from the melting snow, with a gradual release of water throughout the late spring and summer period. High water levels in early spring are natural occurrences which help to recharge groundwater supplies, transfer nutrients and sediments to wetlands and shoreline riparian zones, and provides spring spawning fish and amphibians with access to wetlands and shoreline habitats.
The slow, gradual decline in water levels throughout the spring provides fish and amphibians with enough water to spawn within near shore habitat and for the hatched young to return to the main waterbody. Spring water levels are restricted to a level that reduces potential damage to docks and boathouses.
During the summer, the objective of the Muskoka River Water Management Plan is to maintain waterways at levels which allow for continued recreational use of lakes and rivers while at the same time maintaining water levels in sensitive aquatic environments. A gradual reduction in water levels in the summer ensures that downstream river flows are maintained through periods of hot weather and low precipitation.
Prior to the implementation of the Muskoka River Water Management Plan , many of the lakes controlled by dams were significantly lowered over the winter to maximize their capacity to store flood waters during the spring snow melt period. However advances in the understanding of lake trout biology through initiatives such as the Kawagama Lake Project have shown that lake trout eggs and/or fry were likely being exposed when winter drawdown levels were too low.
The current operating strategy for lake trout lakes is to reduce the extent of the winter drawdown of lake levels in order to protect eggs and fry. However, if a high water or flood event is anticipated, lake levels are lowered to a greater extent in order to protect shoreline property and reduce the potential for flooding.
To learn more about fisheries projects which influenced the approach to water level management in the Muskoka River Water Management Plan, click on the links below:
Muskoka River Water Management Plan
Learn about water management planning and view the MRWMP report.
Muskoka River Watershed
View maps and schematics of water control structures in the Muskoka River Watershed.
Water Levels Throughout the Year
How are water levels managed during different seasons?
Operating Regime & Daily Procedures
View a typical Annual Lake Operating Plan and download the Annual Operating Plan for your lake.
Checking Water Levels on Your Lake
Use data from the Real-Time Water Level Netowrk to calculate the water level on your lake.
For more information on the Muskoka River Water Management Plan, please contact:
Steve Taylor, Water Resources Coordinator
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
1350 High Falls Road
Bracebridge, Ontario P1L 1W9
Phone: (705) 646-5509
The following links may be helpful to gain an understanding of the role and goals of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) in managing water resources.