Sunfish Weather Station

One of the University of Waterloo Ph’d students who is doing her research here at Sunfish Lake and assisting with our learning about our lake ecosystems would like to place a small weather station on the lake to help better record the date she needs on water and air temperatures, effect of winds, etc.  Since we have no policy for rafts on Sunfish Lake our water committee deferred to the Sunfish Executive who would like to seek a vote of the Sunfish Lake Association membership on allowing this raft to be placed on the lake for the next year or so.

The raft would be anchored towards the north end of the lake in the middle alongside one of the buoys already in place.  The raft apparently is about 8 feet by 8 feet in size and about five feet high.  It consists of an anemometer, temperature and humidity sensors, a net radiometer, a solar panel and a data logger box.  A photo of it is below.

The data from the various teams of researchers we have working at Sunfish Lake has been very important and helpful to our understanding of our watershed, as well as our e-coli, coliform and cyanobacteria issues.  With thousands of lakes in Ontario we are lucky to have these researchers helping us here at Sunfish Lake and the hope is that most families won’t mind the visual appearance and mooring of the weather station for the next year while she completes her research.

Fishing Season

A reminder that fishing season – in particular for bass doesn’t open until June 22nd.  Currently the bass are nesting around the lake and fishing can pull the parent fish off their nests allowing other fish to swoop in and eat all the eggs.  Normally by the end of June the eggs have hatched and left the nest.  If you see any bass nesting or hanging around a spot cleared of seaweed please do not disturb it.

Fishing season officially begins Saturday, June 22nd this year.  Everyone is reminded that all fishing is catch and release.  No live bait (minnows, frogs, etc.) is to be used to avoid introducing invasive species into the lake.  Barbless hooks are required to limit the damage to our fish and if anyone needs advice, instructions, lessons or free approved tackle courtesy of the Lake Association they should contact Dave Carlisle-Weaver who is happy to help out.

We have had fishing issues already this year and in years past.  Hopefully everyone can comply since we would like careful management of our fishery as it is already under stress and we need to ensure that it thrives.

AGM Reminder

A reminder that our Annual General Meeting is coming up on Thursday, June 27th at 7:00pm at the Strucke cottage (the former Weber/Wekerle cottage).  We will have presentations from the Wilmot Fire Chief and some of our water expert researchers in addition to our usual financial update and social activities.  A detailed agenda will be circulated closer to the date.

Lake Water Monitoring

Our water committee has continued to meet and work actively on developing a better understanding of the lake basin and for the safety of everyone will be undertaking both a water quality monitoring program and research program again this summer.  We also have several teams of students from area universities doing research to help us better understand our lake ecosystem.

We still have a serious issue with an overabundance of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen getting into the lake that is setting the stage for serious future problems be it algae, e-coli or cyanobacteria.

Not only will we need to closely monitor the safety of the lake (as other Canadian lakes with cyanobacteria issues saw dog and cattle deaths this past year) we need to find ways to significantly decrease the nutrient loading of the lake and remove existing nutrients being found in concerning levels to reduce the potential for future issues.  Everyone needs to consider phosphorus filters on their septic tanks – particularly for any new systems or septics being upgraded.

Similar to last year there will be a Lake Association Annual Fee surcharge to help offset the costs of these very expensive tests and research.  You can learn more at the Lake Association website – www.sunfishlake.ca and we will keep you posted as monitoring gets underway in the weeks ahead.

Thanks again to Nancy, Rob, and Bob for all the hours they have volunteered on our water issues.

Tree Planting

Geese Challenges

Now that the ice is off the lake it is that time of year where geese are looking to nest.  As in previous years we need to do everything possible to keep the geese from overrunning our lake like they do with other nearby waterbodies like Columbia Lake or Silver Lake.  With the water quality issues we have already been facing, the increased e-coli and fecal coliform counts from a large number of geese on the lake could quite likely render the lake unfit for swimming or recreational use this summer, not to mention the impacts for those who draw tap water from the lake.

There are also a couple of very persistent Mallard ducks that have been trying to nest on the lake which could also contribute significantly to poor water quality and parasites that cause ear infections – particularly in children if they are successful at nesting and hatching their young ducks here.

We encourage you to try to scare the geese and ducks and be threatening anytime that you see them.  The Lake Association has several remote control boats and there is a spare boat available if you or anyone in your family is interested in helping with it this summer.  Everyone is also encouraged to keep their shoreline as natural as possible as tall grasses help to deter the geese and thanks to Dave Hudspeth who has reactivated the flashing orange night lights in the middle of the lake which seem to be helpful at discouraging geese at night.

Sunfish Lake Water Update

one of several teams of researchers we currently have here at Sunfish Lake has just released an excellent video of the work that they have been doing with drones (and in the future satellites) at our lake.  Check out Dr. Claude Duguay’s video here.

Some of our water researchers have also created an online website working with a National Geographic portal to profile their work at Sunfish Lake.  They are the group that has set-up the ice camera’s around the lake.  Interestingly they are finding patterns similar to Lake Baikal in Russia – one of the deepest lakes in the world.  They can’t explain it but hope to keep researching more in the months ahead.  You can learn more and see some of the highlights of their work here.

We are extremely fortunate to have these experts and many others helping us to better understand our lake and its surrounding ecosystem.  Thanks again to Jill Crumb from Treefrong Environmental for all the help with our water safety monitoring for cyanobacteria, our tribuatary research team from the University of Waterloo lead by Patricia Hyunh, along with Bev Raimbault, Anne Grant and all the University of Waterloo Laboratories volunteers for the analysis of hundreds of samples throughout the year.

Thankfully our lake remained safe for swimming and use most of 2018 though we did experience a cyanobacteria outbreak confoundingly in November well past any anticipated or expected timing.  The mysteries of Sunfish Lake are baffling our researchers (and drawing increasing interest as a result) however, it is clear that we still have a serious issue with an overabundance of nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen getting into the lake that is setting the stage for serious future problems.

Not only will we need to closely monitor the safety of the lake (as other Canadian lakes with cyanobacteria issues saw dog and cattle deaths this past year) we need to find ways to significantly decrease the nutrient loading of the lake and remove existing nutrients being found in concerning levels to reduce the potential for future issues.

Thanks again to Nancy, Rob, Bob, Sue, Jessica, Deb and everyone who volunteered extensively with our water research efforts.

Other Water Research

In addition to our water monitoring and water/tributary research teams we have had several other groups doing research on Sunfish Lake this summer.

Environment Canada Grant

We received news this week that despite considerable effort pulling together a 40+ page proposal for rehabilitation and research, our funding application to the Environment Canada Community Project Fund has been turned down.  Only 13 of 82 applications were funded so it was a very competitive process though we hope to learn more in the days ahead about how we can reapply for the future since it is increasingly apparent that the ecology of Sunfish Lake as well as the entire planet is changing with global warming and that we are going to have to be far more proactive if we hope to keep a healthy and thriving lake.  Thanks to Bob Hudgins and everyone else who invested considerable time and effort into this funding application.