Lake Steward Report

Hi Everyone! Please click below to see the latest water quality report from Hastings Prince Edward Health.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health issues beach advisories when the geometric mean concentration of at least five samples is at least 200 E. coli / 100 mL of water or when a single sample is at least 400 E. coli / 100 mL of water. This guideline comes from Canada’s Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality (2012). It is applied to beaches in Ontario in accordance with Ontario’s Recreational Water Protocol, 2018. Prior to 2018 beaches in Ontario were posted when the geometric mean of 5 samples collected within a 30-day period exceeded 100 E. coli / 100 mL of water. Results are posted to Swim Guide as soon as lab results are available.

The PLCA has entered into the Lake Partner Program with the Ministry of the Environment.  The program provides testing for Total Phosphorous (TP) in our lake water.  TP concentrations are ideally used to interpret lake nutrient status since phosphorus is the element that controls the growth of algae in most Ontario lakes. Increases in phosphorus may decrease water clarity by stimulating algal growth. In extreme cases, algal blooms will affect the aesthetics of the lake and/or cause taste and odour problems in the water.  The MOE provides a document for interpreting Phosphorous results.

Checkout These Helpful Readings for Further Information

Take The Plunge – A Guide to Stewardship of Ontario’s Waters 

Cottage Country: Environmental Manual for Cottagers

Ontario’s Cottage Country Lakes: Long-Term Trends in Water Quality from the Lake Partner Program

At last year’s AGM, the issue of the chloride levels in Papineau Lake was raised.  One member of the association was concerned that the chloride levels had increased by “more than 30%” and wondered what actions, if any, were being taken to address this issue. Several members expressed concern that perhaps the chloride levels were related to road salt being applied to Papineau Lake Road making its way into the lake.


Here is some context related to the chloride levels.  Following are the chloride testing results that the member was referring to in mg/L, all taken in the main basin of Papineau Lake: “the deep spot.”

July 09, 2015: 6.0 

July 31, 2017: 7.1 

July 11, 2021: 8.1 

July 13, 2022: 8.3

Indeed, the change from 6 to 8.3 does represent a 30% increase (38% in fact) between 2015 and 2022.


Here are some comparable test results from neighbouring lakes for context:

(Bark Lake, Yuill Lake and Hicks Lake do not appear to have been tested).


Lake Dates # of Tests # of Locations Results in mg/L
Kamaniskeg June 2015-June 2022 19 3 2.7 – 8.7
Baptiste June 2015-June 2022 13 2 1.1 – 2.2
Round June 2015-May 2022 15 2 1.9 – 8.6
Clear May 2015-June 2022 35 4 11.8 – 14.9


In Summary


The average chloride level from the 8,696 samples tested is 9.45, the median is 5.2. Canadian drinking water standards require that chloride levels be below 250 mg/L, while the level considered safe for aquatic life is below 100-120 mg/L. The link below has a chart showing the vulnerability of different species to chloride.


At first, a 38% increase sounds alarming. However, when taken in the context of surrounding lakes, and recommended guidelines, a reading of 8.3 mg/L is not cause for alarm.  


More testing on Papineau would provide a better baseline and more data for trend analysis.  As is evident from the summary of our neighbouring lakes above, there has been much less testing of Papineau Lake in recent years: only 4 tests in one location over 8-9 years, all taken in July. Other lakes have testing in the spring and fall as well.


When I contacted the Ontario Ministry, they agreed to support more testing in the South and North parts of Papineau, and not just the centre. In addition, they have also agreed to test Hicks Lake and Yuill lake. The thinking is that these two lakes would make good comparable lakes to Papineau Lake, as neither have roads or cottages on or adjacent to their shores. Starting this year, I will submit additional samples from Papineau North and South, as well as Yuill and Hicks Lakes.


Further reading:

The Ontario Lake Partner program with all the testing results, not just chloride:

The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME)’s 2011 comprehensive scientific study specific to chloride:

My Lake Steward’s Report:


Please reach out to lake steward, Jeff Potter ( for further questions and/or concerns.