A local business has played a key role in launching a water quality research project that could help improve the health of Lake Simcoe.
Staff at McLean and Dickey Insurance Brokers helped connect The Couchiching Conservancy and Lakehead University with Intact Foundation and the insurance company has agreed to support a water monitoring project that may help guide future decisions in the struggle to clean up Lake Simcoe.
Intact Foundation representative Chris Read visited Orillia Thursday to present a cheque to the Conservancy for $10,000.
“This is a great example of a local business helping local organizations to do important environmental work,” said Mark Bisset, Executive Director of The Couchiching Conservancy. “Francois and Danielle Tisi worked hard to connect us with Intact Foundation and that resulted in this grant. We’re very grateful to both Intact Foundation and McLean and Dickey Insurance.”
The conservancy and Lakehead are partnering to monitor water quality on the Carden Plain where cattle grazing is the dominant agricultural activity. Along with commercial ranchers, the conservancy uses cattle grazing as a management tool to keep important grassland habitat open for birds, particularly species at risk. The traditional source of water for cattle has been streams and creeks that lead into Lake Simcoe. Working in partnership with area ranchers, the conservancy has fenced some cattle out of these tributaries and provided alternate water sources. The research project with Lakehead is designed to test the impact these actions are having over time.
“We’ve been working to reduce agricultural runoff going into Lake Simcoe for years, but we need to test some of our assumptions,” said Conservancy project manager Dorthea Hangaard, who has developed the project with Lakehead professor Sreekumari Kurissery. “We’re hoping the results of this research will help us convince skeptics and lead to more partnerships between private ranchers and conservation organizations.”
Nutrient loading from agriculture and other sources is a key water quality concern in Lake Simcoe. It promotes weed and algae growth which then depletes oxygen levels as it decays, harming the coldwater fishery and the broader lake ecology. Reducing phosphorus and other nutrients going into the lake will improve Simcoe’s resilience in the face of climate change.
Climate change has captured the attention of the insurance industry in Canada because it is dealing with the direct financial effects of erratic weather patterns. Intact Foundation, a wing of the Intact Insurance Company, is investing in community efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
For more information on this project, read the Testing Our Assumptions article.
Project Manager, The Couchiching Conservancy