Fairy Lake restoration project continues

                           Fairy Lake in Autumn

At a meeting in January, 2021, Saugeen Shores Town Council decided to enter into a partnership with the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII) and University of Waterloo researchers, with leading experts in wetlands ecology, for an ecological restoration project of Fairy Lake to study ways to control invasive species and restore the health of the lake’s water quality.

The project potentially includes a feasibility study for the potential restoration of the lake and to engage the local community in caring for its long-term health through a science-based study of water quality, invasive species of vegetation and marine life.

At the 2021 meeting, Saugeen Shores Manager of Parks Frank Burrows explained that,  “Fairy Lake in Southampton is one of Saugeen Shore’s most iconic and well-loved parks. It is particularly special due to its central location, walking trail and the natural beauty. Unfortunately, the lake suffers from poor water quality and several invasive species, including Curly-leaf Pondweed and Common Carp. Ecological restoration of the lake is particularly complex and several attempts to remove invasive species and improve water quality have had limited success.  The local community is concerned about the condition of the lake, and the Town is interested in exploring potential restoration options to improve water quality and manage invasive species.”

Earlier this month (May 2022), a team from the University of Waterloo arrived with ‘Georgie’, an ecomapper submersible vehicle that looks much like a miniature submarine. The equipment is jointly owned by Laurier, Waterloo and Western Universities and Georgian Bay Forever Environmental charity.

                (L) Adrienne Mason, Dr. Heidi Swanson, Jessica Kidd and Bronte McPhedran
                    Team watches ‘Georgie’ in action

The ecomapper submersible device works on a ‘grid’ system that covers the area of the lake as it is propelled through the water using remote control and that relays high resolution water quality and bathymetry (the study of the lake bed), data.

The ecological restoration project is anticipated to cost $55,000 and will be administered by the NII’s Environment@NII program and funded by a $25,000 donation from Bruce Power, with the remaining $30,000 divided evenly between the Town of Saugeen Shores, University of Waterloo, and Mitacs to cover graduate-student stipends. The team expects to continue work throughout the summer.