With over 200 inland lakes, hundreds of kilometres of streams and a variety of wetlands and wildlife habitats, the Cataraqui Region has an abundance of natural resources. It is important that our communities conserve these natural resources to maintain the region’s diverse landscape and ecology, as well as protecting our drinking water.
A watershed is an area of land and water that drains to a common outlet. Everyone lives in a watershed. Rain and snowmelt flow over the land or through the ground to a stream or lake system. Homes, farms, cottages, forests, small towns, and big cities make up watersheds, with some crossing municipal, provincial and even international borders. Watershed shapes and sizes vary from millions of square kilometers, the land that drains into the Great Lakes, to a few acres draining into a small lake.
The majority of the lakes within the region are located in the Cataraqui River and Gananoque River watersheds; however, the Millhaven and Collins Creek watersheds contain lakes near their headwaters as well. Many of the Cataraqui Region lakes were formed as a result of water becoming trapped by the rocky, rough terrain of the Canadian Shield and are valued by residents, visitors and wildlife.
Our unique landscape is constantly adapting to pressures from climate change, development, and the introduction of invasive species. To evaluate and protect our lakes, it is important to understand how a lake functions, including both natural and human influences.
Activities on upstream lakes, streams and ponds affect downstream waterbodies. Everything in a watershed is connected so that all activities have an effect on water quality and quantity. As water cycles through a watershed, it can dissolve and/or carry soil, debris and contaminants to a stream or lake. Modifications to the landscape such as paving, building constructions, and installation of other hard (impervious) surfaces changes how water flows over the land. The addition of hard surfaces limits the ability of water to soak into the ground, thereby increasing the risk of flooding since the direct path of streams has been removed. Cataraqui Conservation's jurisdiction is composed of ten smaller watersheds that all drain toward the eastern end of Lake Ontario and the beginning of the St. Lawrence River.