Summer Newsletter 2023

The Bassin versant du Lac Heney Watershed association is pleased to bring you, via e-mail, the first edition of the newsletter. Our plan is to publish three times a year. We want to keep you up to date with local and environmental news and the monitoring program’s latest results. I would like to thank everybody who contributed to its publication.

Greetings from the President

By Roger Larson
Your Association Board has been focusing on monitoring the progress of the watershed water quality. Lac Heney watershed is a highly sensitive ecosystem. We have very slow water exchange; it takes six years to replace the water in our Lac Heney, compared to a rate of six or seven times per year for other lakes in the region – that’s PER YEAR! While the fish farm crisis might be well in the past, new challenges are coming.

First, I would like to highlight our need for new volunteers. We are realigning our committees to meet the association’s needs; we have a new Communications Committee and a new Membership Committee. We are continuing to establish the Bay Captains program. Remember that terrific tote bag and a package of information & posters last spring? That was initiated by our Bay Captains group Elaine MacDonald (who has since moved).

Why is your membership important?

We need to speak, on behalf of the owners, to our neighbors, guests, and municipalities. While the water quality of Heney appears to be stabilized, it is stable at a much higher level of nutrients, in particular phosphorus. Desormeaux is facing significant challenges in water quality. Barbue, Noir, and Vert are also elevated.

There are important issues, including residential development, wildlife, and the protection of the shorelines. These often work together to either help or harm our water quality. New residential developments put us to the test and remind us of the need for shoreline protection. We need to be mindful of both new and old septic systems and wakes from large boats. The restoration of the fish habitat is of interest.

Despite the ongoing issues, there have also been opportunities – last year we met with the Gracefield Mayor and Director General to update them on our recent water studies and discuss new recreation facilities such as the new hiking trail in the Mud Lake sector. Membership means that our ideas are valued
by elected officials. I urge everyone to go to the website and sign up to support the association.

Volunteers Needed!

We are looking at renewing our activities such as the citizen scientist and ride-along program to demonstrate the importance of water quality. We are continuing the hazard buoy program to mark the hidden water hazards. We are also looking at a system of other markers to identify weed beds and shallow areas and hope to conduct a milfoil monitoring effort. Consider volunteering for one of these initiatives or being our community link as a Bay Captain. We would like you to consider joining the Bay Captains group.

We would like to hear from you – what are your priorities? A boater code of conduct? Island protection? Renters’ guide to respecting the environment?

Please come to the BBQ on Sunday July 23 at 10.30 am, watch the website for further information, sign up for notifications, or email You can also follow us on Facebook.

An Update from the Science and Environmental Committee

By Tom McKenna

Formally, the Science Committee is part of the Bassin versant du Lac Heney. However, informally, and de facto, the Science Committee plays a major role in informing the Lake Heney Foundation (LHF) about lake monitoring, environmental protection, and education. The major expenditure of the Foundation is about $50k each year to undertake very high quality measurements of the lakes’ water quality.

The LHF was established to manage the process of lake remediation with funds obtained from the class action settlement with the Province of Quebec. The Foundation also manages gifts in the form of money or property in order to ensure the future protection of Lake Heney. It is legally and organizationally separate from the Bassin versant du Lac Heney association which incorporates the watershed lakes as the Bassin versant du Lac Heney Watershed.

Read the Lac Heney Foundation backgrounder here.

Our general sense is that the quality of lac Heney has improved significantly after its treatment in November 2007. Watch a video summary of the treatment here :

However, there are considerable fluctuations, so the general approach is to keep watch to have warnings if the water quality starts to deteriorate. Further, we are concerned about the tributary lakes, especially lac Desormeaux, whose water quality is poor. So, one current topic is what, if any, kind of remediation, should be considered. We are working with our consultant to determine what analyses need to be performed in order to make a recommendation.

The Lac Heney watershed and its chemistry is a complex system, with seasonal and irregular impacts from sunlight, precipitation, wind, run-off, septic system flows, local logging, etc. One of our recent decisions was to reduce the frequency and range of measurements taken each year, thereby reducing the annual costs of our consultant Kilgour and Associates.

We have been monitoring the lake bottom sediments since there is an interesting back and forth among the phosphorus bound by the iron in the sediment, which determines the amount of oxygen in the water at depth. It also provides a historical record of the iron-to-phosphorus ratio which is a determinant of potential phosphorus release into the lakes. But we are maintaining our watch on Lac Heney and have increased our monitoring of the watershed lakes – both for their own sakes and because they are tributaries to Lac Heney.

The Science Committee participates in the Québec government Le Réseau de surveillance volontaire des lacs (RSVL). This requires the committee to sample the water three times in the summer as well as measure transparency twice per month.

You can see the latest reports here:

As well we perform monthly monitoring of oxygen and temperature on Heney and Desormeaux at numerous depths. This additional characterization enhances the data collected by Kilgour Associates.

You can watch a video explaining our water sampling techniques here:

Renew your Association membership / Become a new Association member for 2023-24

By Anthony VanDuzer

Membership in the Association supports its activities and gives you a voice in what we do. Joining the Association as a member helps make our work more effective. With more members, we are better positioned to advocate for members’ interests.

Membership also entitles you to vote (and some food and drink) at the Association’s Annual Meeting on Sunday July 23, 2023 at 10:30am. As in past years, the membership fee is $35. If you are a member, please renew your membership for 2023-24. If you are not yet a member, please consider joining. We need you.

Memberships can be renewed, and new members can join through the Association website. Membership is open to owners of property with frontage on or private legal access to the lakes in the Lac Heney watershed as well as their spouses, partners, and children.

Payment is preferred by e-transfer to

If paying by cheque, please make cheques payable to:
Association pour la Protection du Lac Heney
Mail to:
Bassin versant du Lac Heney Watershed
29 Remembrance Cr,
Ottawa, Ontario
K1G 6P6

Wake boats and shore erosion

By Christine Ouellet
You are getting ready to rev up your engine to pull a water skier tied behind you and speed up as soon as you have passed the regulatory 30 meters from shore and well away from swimmers and other boaters. You know that you are responsible for damage caused to people, swimmers, divers, docks, canoers, or kayakers by your wake.

You are getting psyched up mentally, the adrenaline is pumping up and your 2 feet are well-braced in the bottom of the boat. Your hand pushes the throttle to the max. A wave is about to be born and leave a wake behind you.

You quickly check the water skier behind you. A moment of pleasure mixed with a bit of anxiety comes over. Everybody on board is excited, the water skier is up on his skis and getting ready to surf and slalom over the wake that you leave behind you. You are all having a great adrenalin rush moment.

But what you may not be thinking about is erosion and unfortunately, the story is not over at the shoreline. Or perhaps the canoe or small fishing boat in the nearby cove.

On the shoreline and the littoral, the microscopic riparian vegetation, and the minuscule creatures just being born that are barely gripping to a slim bit of marine grass are disturbed. For them, the game is over with the action of repeated waves that come brutally crashing on the shore where boats leave sudden wakes. The soil that shelters them gradually and slowly washes away and their habitat is destroyed.

Boat wakes produce erosion of the shoreline. Shoreline erosion is the incremental result of the action of waves on the shoreline. It can be caused by natural or external processes. Soils are removed from their banks by brutal crashing waves and end up being transported somewhere else.

Please watch your speed near the shore and be aware that animals and vegetation rely on your good behavior to sustain life.

Fish under pressure

By Christine Ouellet
In the fishing world, it is a widely accepted view amongst anglers that barometric pressure changes have a major influence on fish and their feeding behavior. Another increasingly important pressure of a different nature concerns the eutrophication of their habitat.

How do fish adapt to barometric pressure change?

Fish sense pressure changes through their air bladder, and well in advance of humans. Fish with large bladders quickly sense when the air pressure is dropping, because there’s less pressure on their bladder. And when there’s less pressure squeezing their bladders, the bladders expand a bit. Fish become uncomfortable. They relieve their discomfort by moving lower in the water column or by absorbing extra gas in their bladders.

Fish Feeding strategy

According to Lawrence Gunter, Editor of the Blue Fish Canada Newsletter, fish feel it when a low-pressure zone is approaching. Just before the storm hits, they go into an aggressive feeding frenzy. Once the storm hits and the pressure bottoms out, they stop feeding. They shut down. It is the change in atmospheric pressure that triggers their aggressive behavior. It takes fish 3 days under the same pressure to adjust to a new weather pattern system and equalize their swim bladders.

To achieve buoyancy and adjust their swim bladder, fish push gas into their swim bladder which allows them to be stable in the water and not sink. They want to be in a neutral zone where their food is. So, if the food is at 50 ft down, they want to be buoyant at 50 ft. Once the low-pressure front is chased away by a high-pressure one, they become hungry again. The cycle restarts. For instance, since there is less oxygen in cold water, some fish tend to prefer warmer waters, and in our lakes, we find them more often on the north side of the lake than on the south side because of the position of the sun; there is more shade and the water tends to be colder.

Eutrophication of the habitat

Elements such as a decrease in oxygen levels, an increase in water temperature, and a decrease in water clarity, are indications that eutrophication of their habitat is gradually taking place. When it gets to a critical level, fish cannot survive and then, how do they adapt? But what will happen when they have nowhere else to go, their population will decline, and they will eventually face extinction. A sad perspective indeed.

Life jackets save lives, being thrown in the water suddenly

By Christine Ouellet
In Canada, you are required by law to have a life Jacket or a personal floatation device (PFD) in your watercraft for each passenger on board. This also includes human-powered crafts such as kayaks and canoes and paddleboards.

However, as strange as it sounds, the legislation fails to specify that you have to wear it. If your craft capsizes, what good is it to have your PFD or flotation device stuck in the bottom of the boat if you are suddenly thrown onto the water, disoriented, and having difficulties breathing and swallowing water?

Just for fun, at the end of a beautiful sailing afternoon on our Laser sailboat, we used to burn off the rest of our energy by tipping the Laser and bringing it back up, over and over. We enjoyed getting thrown overboard and getting wet or trying to remain on the keel or in the cockpit as the hull lay perpendicular to the surface of the water.

Even if we were already wet and falling in relatively warm waters, I remember how I felt to lose control of
the boat was capsizing; the shock of losing my balance, slipping, and eventually being pulled into the
water. I remember the brief sense of disorientation as my body was going under.

Falling off a boat or a dock is not like diving; you are surprised, you become unstable, you lose your balance, and you can’t grip anything. You are in free fall, and it is easy to panic; as you go down, it takes a few seconds to realize where you are and look up to the surface to swim back up.

In these circumstances, it is good to know that your personal floatation device, or PFD, will bring you back up to the surface and save your life.

Part of this story was initially published in Ripple, the electronic Newsletter of the Ottawa Squadron of the Canadian Power and Sail and Sports Energy News or Cornwall. To read the full Transport Canada regulation concerning Life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFD), visit the following link:

Natural landscaping, It’s child’s play.

By Christine Ouellet
It is easy to adopt a natural landscaping model at the cottage. Planting wildflowers and native plants requires low maintenance. You may plant natural vegetation, native plants, and shrubs at the shoreline, you can reduce the grass area to its minimum thereby reducing the task of mowing the grass on weekends.

You will be able to relax and rest peacefully while listening to the bird songs, the woodpeckers harvesting
insects, the wind shaking the leaves gently, and the sound of the waves crashing softly onto your shore
through the bushes and shrubs.

One of the wildflowers you can plant on the shore is the Milk Weed (Asclepiad Incarnate). This is a beautiful dark-pink native plant that hosts the monarch butterfly and attracts many other butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. Or you can plant some Chicory, Blue Vervain, or Wild Daisy.



The RAPPEL (Regroupement des associations pour la protection des lacs et des bassins versants) held a ZOOM symposium on Water on March 30 – 31, 2023. The purpose was to gather people involved in the protection of lakes and to offer them practical information about the challenges they encounter.


Watersheds Canada was hosting Community science-focus webinars through their free online Freshwater Stewardship Community, the programming held throughout April is to help learn about local species and environmental conditions and how they can contribute to those sightings.

Their program includes Love your lake, The Natural Edge, Fish Habitat, Freshwater Stewardship Community, Planning for Our Shorelines, and Nature Discovery programs.


  • BBQ and General Meeting Sunday July 23nd at 10:30am Lac Ste-Marie
  • Project Milkweed Seeds (asclepiade incanata) for Shorelines, Farmer’s markets free distribution of swamp milkweed seeds to help restore and ameliorate the shorelines and other non-vegetated land. Promotion of the association to attract new members and motivate actual members to renew their membership.
  • Fête des voisins, Lac Ste-Marie, June 3rd, from 12.00—17.00
  • Marché des Saveurs, Gracefield June 16th, from 12.00 – 17.00
  • Watershed Canada organise “Lake Links” a one-day workshop in October 2023
  • Mont Tremblant, Forum on lakes June 7 – 8 2023 presented by the Laurentians Regional Council for the Environment (CRE Laurentides)