GBF Winter 2022 Newsletter

EXTREME WATER LEVELS: IMPACTS AND STRATEGIES WEBINARS WELL RECEIVED This fall, the Georgian Bay Assocation (GBA) and Georgian Bay Forever teamed up to deliver three webinars about Extreme Water Levels. Out-surveys showed that in all webinars, more than 85% of people’s expectations were met or exceeded, and the webinars made them overwhelmingly want to take one or more of the actions suggested. We want to thank all the speakers, and our other major partners including Severn Sound Environmental Assocation, the International Joint Commission, and the Council of the Great Lakes Region. If you missed the three webinars, you can find all the information including top highlights and access to the 2-hour webinar videos online at or If you missed the three webinars, you can find all the information including top highlights and access to the 2-hour webinar videos online at or *Thank you John Lavis (GBA) for summarizing the webinars. WHILE THERE WERE ABOUT 7 MAJOR TAKEAWAYS FROM EACH WEBINAR — HERE IS A SMALLER SELECTION: 1. What’s Happening? What’s New? • Both precipitation and evaporation are projected to increase under various climate change scenarios, with future lake levels, depending on the balance between the rates of increases. The highs are likely to be higher and the lows lower as we move into an increasingly volatile future. • Changes to climate drivers — including temperature (air and water), wind speed, and precipitation — operate at different scales, including basin-wide and local scales. Future projections predict ‘warmer, wetter, wilder’ conditions. Lake impacts include ice (cover and phenology) and algae growth. Blue-green algae blooms like it hot, so extreme events favour blooms. • Additional lake impacts can be seen in wetlands, flora and fauna. While wetlands in Georgian Bay evolved within the long-term water level regime of 6.33 feet fluctuations, increasing sewage discharge (among other factors) will increasingly tax the ability of our coastal wetlands to keep our water clean. Many plant and animal species will be unable to adapt to the effects of even an intermediate scenario for the future climate, with taxonomic groups depending most on water (e.g., molluscs, fishes, amphibians and lichens) being most vulnerable. Additional impacts can be seen in fish (e.g., less ice cover meaning lower egg viability) and birds (e.g., botulism bacteria being passed through the food chain from algae to invasive mussels to round goby to birds). 2.Shorelines, Docks & Shoreline Structures • Wake boats should be operated in sufficiently deep water to protect bottom sediments and near shore vegetation. • ‘Living shorelines’ absorb energy through the use of softer materials and live vegetation, and help buffer wave energy before it reaches shore. • Municipal governments should be approaching natural assets collectively, including that they can benefit from the delivery of core services, they can be managed (which is the focus of local government natural-asset management), and they are often overly depended upon and under-recognized. • There are significant differences in the approach to the high-water mark across Georgian Bay’s coastal municipalities. Those marks that have been set are at a lower level than the 2019/20 water level, and these may need to be re-considered given higher water levels are expected in the future. 3.Septic Systems and Potable Water Vulnerabilities, Insurance & Planning, Coastal Infrastructure • Septic-system design and construction will need to be adapted to the rising water levels that we can already anticipate, which includes siting tile fields on high ground (and can mean moving away from gravity-fed septic systems). • The many water-related consequences of climate change mean that we need to: 1) avoid consuming untreated surface water; 2) plan for an increased need for water treatment (filtration and chlorination); and 3) plan for the costs of upgrades to watertreatment systems. • A step-by-step approach to addressing the most common water damage-related risks includes a focus in the shorter term on completing simple, low-cost maintenance and upgrade actions, and in the longer term completing more complex upgrades after evaluating options with qualified professionals, government and insurance representatives. Select a particular approach to protecting your cottage based on: 1) unique flood and erosion risks; 2) severity of risk; 3) budget; and 4) insurance coverages. 12 | WINTER 2022 | GBF.ORG