Tagged: Dr. Neil Hutchinson

06 Sep




The water was very clear and the weed growth was prolific, but not problematic.

Dr. Neil Hutchinson, Ph.D.
President, Principal Aquatic Scientist
Hutchinson Environmental Sciences Ltd.

On Thursday August 29, HESL scientists Dr, Neil Hutchinson and Dr. Tammy Karst-Riddoch completed the next routine water quality survey for Musslemans Lake.

We collected 3 sets of water samples:

1. a composite of the water column at the east end of the lake

2. a composite of the upper water column at the west end of the lake over the deep portion

3. a sample from 0.5m above the bottomalysis pof the at the same location at the west end.

We also collected profiles of temperature and oxygen at the east and west ends.

At this time of year the lake is strongly thermally stratified into an upper warm layer and a bottom cooler layer. The bottom layer has lost all of its oxygen – there is no oxygen in those parts of the lake that are deeper than 5m. This is a natural process for a kettle lake. It is not a great problem for fish as they simply stay in the upper water layers but the lack of oxygen causes the lake sediments to release phosphorus, a process known as “internal loading” that can cause algal blooms. We took samples to check for phosphorus in the deep section at the west end of the lake and took surface samples for taxonomic analysis of the algal community to see what the late summer community looks like.

Annual Pattern of Mixing  Young, M. (2004). Thermal Stratification in Lakes. Baylor College of Medicine, Center For Educational Outreach.

Annual Pattern of Mixing
Young, M. (2004). Thermal Stratification in Lakes. Baylor College of Medicine, Center For Educational Outreach.

As autumn progresses the lake will begin to cool and the thermal stratification will weaken until Gordon Lightfoot’s “gales of November” cause the lake to thoroughly mix, restoring oxygen to the bottom waters.We talked with a lake resident on her dock on August 29, and she told us that the water quality this year had been better than usual, with less weed growth than usual and the water remaining clear over the summer. Our own observations confirmed that the water was very clear and that the weed growth was prolific, but not problematic. We confirmed that Eurasian milfoil, a problematic invading species, was a dominant component of the aquatic plant community.HESL expects to visit the lake twice more, and prepare a report by the end of October.We thank Geranium Corporation for their support of this study.

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08 Aug


Be Careful What You Wish For


Concerned about water clarity, be wary of large-scale vegetation control programs on shallow lakes.

Information and Resources supplied by
Dr. Neil Hutchinson, Ph.D.
President, Principal Aquatic Scientist
Hutchinson Environmental Sciences Ltd.

Aquatic ecologists tend to avoid the term “weeds” when referring to macrophytes – the rooted aquatic plants that many swimmers and boaters disdain. These plants provide food for waterfowl and habitat for fish, but they can also play a critical role in maintaining water clarity.


Image – www.eoearth.org

This is especially true in shallow lakes and ponds. In ecology, the alternative stable states concept acknowledges that ecosystems can sometimes have more than one stable equilibrium point. Many lakes and ponds have two stable states: weedy and clear or devoid of weeds and muddy. This leaves riparian landowners and lake managers with a choice between two undesirable endpoints when nutrient levels are intermediate.
Nutrients (primarily phosphorus) have an important role in determining the balance between rooted plants (“weeds”) and the suspended phytoplankton (algae) that contributes to turbidity (“muddiness”).

At low nutrient levels, the rooted plants win out because water is clear and plenty of light reaches the bottom of the lake. At high nutrient levels, the algae win out and effectively shade out rooted plants – this means extremely low water clarity and sometimes harmful algal blooms. At intermediate nutrient levels, things get a bit tricky. In this case, lakes can be pushed in one direction or the other – sometimes inadvertently.

In these intermediate lakes, additional nutrient inputs (perhaps from septic fields or urban and agricultural runoff) can push a lake past its threshold and result in “catastrophic transition” to a muddy and algae-dominated state. When this happens, it can be very difficult to restore water clarity and rooted plant communities.

swans at the lake

Musselman’s Lake – Swans feeding among the weeds. (Photo – Dan Wigmore)


Here is an interesting tidbit to consider from the North American Lake Management Society newsletter. NALMS is a group of citizens and scientists who promote lake management. www.nalms.org

Weed management might also push a lake over its threshold point.

One study used computer simulations to investigate the outcome of various management strategies and found that management for intermediate vegetation density can be impossible in certain lakes. While intermediate levels of rooted vegetation are often ideal for fish, wildlife and human users, they can be impossible to attain in shallow lakes with intermediate nutrient levels.

While this might sound complex, reasons for the loss of water clarity following aquatic plant control are straightforward. Rooted plants prevent mucky bottoms from being stirred up by wind-driven currents, boating activity, and other disturbances. They also suppress algae growth by taking up nutrients. Some plants even release chemicals that further impede algae growth.

When rooted plants are destroyed, mucky bottoms get stirred up and re-suspend nutrients. Competition with algae ceases and foul blooms occur. If plant biomass is not mechanically removed, the rotting vegetation further adds to nutrient availability, turbidity, and algae growth.

If you are concerned about water clarity, be wary of large-scale vegetation control programs on shallow lakes. In other words, be careful what you wish for.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu.

30 Jul


Exciting Project Was Launched Thurs. July 18th


Hutchinson Environmental Sciences Ltd. (HESL) has started the Geranium sponsored in depth study of Musselman’s Lake.

HESL scientists have been working with Geranium Corporation on water quality management for over 12 years, and are pleased to be working with them again on Musselman’s Lake. On Thursday July 18th Dr. Neil Hutchinson and Dr. Tammy Karst-Riddoch launched their aluminum boat onto Musselman’s Lake.


Dr. Neil Hutchinson & Dr. Tammy Karst-Riddoch conducting water quality testing on Musselman’s Lake (Photo – Linda Wigmore)

They then loaded their boat with copious amounts of scientific equipment and officially started the research project on Musselman’s Lake. HESL scientists expect to be back on the Lake in another 2 weeks conducting more tests through until the end of September. For their next visit, they will be measuring water quality at two sites on the lake with particular attention to the oxygen and nutrient status of the lake. They will also complete a survey of the aquatic plants (“weeds”) to establish the species that are present and their density. We expect a full report probably in November with recommendations on various courses of action going forward and costs associated with the various courses of action.

We hope to then use this report to raise money from various corporations and government organizations to improve the water quality and hopefully better control the weeds.

15 Jul


Historic Meeting on Musselman’s Lake Water Quality, Weed Control & Stewardship Plan


Government, Developer, Environmental Company and Resident’s Association discuss ideas for improving local community.

Councillor Bannon arranged a meeting at Musselman’s Lake on Friday July 12th between Geranium Corporation, Hutchinson Environmental, Musselman’s Lake Residents Association, and Councillor Bannon, representing the Town.


Cheryl Shindruk, Executive Vice-President of Land Development-Geranium Homes, Shauna Dudding, Vice- President of Land Development-Geranium Homes, Rick Wigmore, President-MLRA, Dr. Neil Hutchinson of Hutchinson Environmental, Councillor Phil Bannon

Thanks to Phil we are setting a new standard for communication and co-operation between a Residents’ Assoc., Environmentalists, Developer and Government. Our Community Of Musselman’s Lake is coming out a big winner in this uncharted territory.

In the first meeting between Mario Giampietri, President of Geranium Corporation and Rick Wigmore of the Musselman’s Lake Residents Association many community concerns and issues were discussed. Mr. Wigmore discussed the four main resident concerns revolving around Geranium’s proposed development on 12 acres on Lakeshore Road. Those concerns were 1) Density  2) Waterloo Biofilter Septic Sytems. 3) Water Flow across the property negatively affecting neighbouring homes 4) Increased Traffic Flow. Mr. Giampietri assured Mr. Wigmore that Geranium would investigate and address all the concerns which they subsequently did through Ms. Cheryl Shindruk Executive Vice President of Geranium Corporation.

(Click here for complete discussion of issues)

In the course of the conversation Mr. Giampietri expressed Geranium’s desire to be good corporate citizens in the communities in which they build and to only build the finest of communities. He asked if the residents had other concerns in the neighbourhood. Mr. Wigmore replied that water quality and weeds in Musselman’s Lake had always been a big topic of concern.

He asked if we had a Stewardship Plan to which Mr. Wigmore replied we did, but execution was hindered due to limited funding. He then offered the services of Dr. Neil Hutchinson head of Hutchinson Environmental to review our Stewardship plan at Geranium’s expense and to see what if anything could be done. Mr. Giampietri has worked with Dr. Hutchinson on a few projects and considers him one of the foremost experts on all things water in Ontario and our own Dr. Brian Laing concurs.

Click here for Dr. Hutchinson’s initial assessment of our existing Stewardship Plan.

15 Jul


Now, The Big Geranium Homes Announcement


Official Statement

For many years Musselman’s Lake has been the source of great community enjoyment. At the same time, environmental degradation has been a mounting source of concern for the community.

Local Councillor Phil Bannon and the Musselman’s Lake Residents Association are to be commended for their efforts to address these concerns. Together, they have sought input from Dr. Neil Hutchinson, a highly qualified limnologist (a scientist who studies bodies of fresh water such as lakes and ponds with reference to their physical, geographical, biological and other features), who is well respected both locally and internationally. Over the next four months, Dr. Hutchinson’s team will study the lake to confirm the cause of the problems, and then identify the best solutions to address the problems.

Geranium Corporation is proud to sponsor Dr. Hutchinson’s work and support the Ballantrae-Musselman’s Lake community in its endeavours to improve the environmental quality of the Lake. We have every confidence in Dr. Hutchinson and his team and are proud to contribute to this project which we are confident will bring lasting benefits for the Lake and the surrounding community.


15 Jul




Musselman’s Lake’s unique and beautiful community will truly benefit from this comprehensive study.

In the interest of bettering the community in which they build, and as part of the proposed Lakeshore Development, Geranium has agreed to fully fund this study and will also seek funding partners to ensure the Stewardship Plan continues to move forward.

The entire MLRA executive has been engaged and held numerous meetings to go over the options on this proposal. It is the unanimous decision of the executive that in the absence of any game changing scientific evidence against this development and with the knowledge that the LSRCA has done their due diligence and approved the development, that we work with Geranium for the benefit of all who share this unique and beautiful community.

We are really excited to have a scientist of Dr. Neil Hutchinson’s stature conduct a comprehensive study of Water Quality and Weed Control on our lake.