Former Prime Minister and LOWWSF- mentor leaves a legacy of international cooperation to protect Lake of the Woods water quality.

IJC 2004 gray turnerThe Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation (LOWWSF) and its Directors mourn the loss of the Right Honourable John Napier Turner PC CC QC, former Prime Minister of Canada and LOWWSF supporter and mentor.

Lake of the Woods has lost a great friend and champion for the lake.  Mr. Turner was passionate about water, its importance to Canadians and our responsibilities as citizens to protect it.  He had a special passion for Lake of the Woods and for protecting its water quality.  His determination to bring attention and action to protect the lake water quality led to the formation of the LOWWSF and led to the establishment of the International Joint Commission (IJC) watershed board to coordinate water quality efforts on this binational great lake.

In the ongoing spirit of cross-border collaboration, the fourth international Lake Association Network Event took place virtually on November 24, 2020.  A pdf summary report is available for download (449 KB) . The half day workshop was attended by 24 individuals from Ontario and Minnesota, representing 15 different lake associations, resource agencies and organizations.  The session was a mix of very practical and relevant presentations that covered green infrastructure ideas, how to establish an Environment Committee, a Q/A session on effective communication and a roundtable of association highlights.

Satellite derived estimates of Chlorophyll-a (pigment in algae) across Lake of the Woods, Sept 22, 2020.This is really good stuff -- check it out!  We’ve all seen the compelling satellite pictures of blue green algae blooms covering Lake of the Woods. Now there’s a way for you to see them in near real time and also how they can be used. 

Dr. Caren Binding of ECCC has harnessed these images for near real-time tracking of algae blooms and has developed indices of bloom severity, intensity and extent across the lake. These indices will be extremely useful in monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of efforts to cut phosphorus to reduce harmful algae blooms. 

Dr. Binding has also launched an online tool (ECCC’s EOLakeWatch), that provides a suite of website interactive tools for algal bloom monitoring for Lake of the Woods, Lake Winnipeg and Lake Erie. You can also sign up to receive periodic bloom reports or follow Dr. Binding / EOLakeWatch on Twitter.

Andrew Williams, MSc. candidate, Trent U. measuring stream flow on the Pigeon River.LOWWSF is providing a grant to Trent University researchers working to quantify nutrient (primarily phosphorus) loading from tributaries to Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River from the Canadian portion of the basin.  

The research team, led by Dr. Catherine Eimers, continued this work this summer, with much of the heavy lifting being done by MSc. candidate Andrew Williams.  We expect the results of Andrew’s work to be extremely useful in identifying concrete actions that can be taken to reduce phosphorus loading to Lake of the Woods, to combat the harmful algal blooms. 

Andrew’s thesis research is being supported by the grant from the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation to Trent University, with matching funds from Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that supports training of researchers in Canada.


“Minnesota Health Department researchers in the 1950s had to dig through paper mill waste clogging the Rainy River to find water” (MPCA report wq-ws1-33)The Rainy River is a remarkable story of recovery from pollution.  In decades gone by, pollution from paper mills and raw sewage severely harmed the river, its fish populations and recreational potential.  In August, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released a report on its multi-year study of the health of the Rainy River

In general, the report finds that the Rainy River is now a high-quality resource in good condition, although is listed as impaired for fish consumption due to elevated mercury in fish, similar to many lakes and rivers in our region.  The report concludes that with restoration successful, it is now critical to protect this river and the streams and landscapes that feed it.

Figure 3 640Bev Clark summarizes Clare Nelligan's PhD research that studied the sedimentary record of Whitefish Bay, Cul de Sac Bay and Echo Bay to determine whether:

1) water quality has changed in Lake of the Woods embayments that support Lake Trout?

2) changes observed in the sedimentary record suggestive of a particular environmental stressor?

3) trends are similar between embayments?

Clare has completed her PhD and has moved on to a career in environmental consulting.  LOWWSF is pleased to have supported her work as recipient of the Deborah Battigelli Memorial fund.

Logo with sign upYour help now will ensure that we maintain the momentum for our lake. Sign up at the Foundation’s website to show your support and receive our email updates, including notices of upcoming consultations on ecosystem and phosphorus objectives with Environment and Climate Change Canada. 

Please consider donating to the Foundation
For U.S. donors requiring a receipt for U.S. tax purposes, see  for U.S. donor instructions. 

Your gift will help make sure that Lake of the Woods is a priority with governments, that research is completed and that a sustainability plan is developed and implemented to restore and protect the water quality of Lake of the Woods.

Collecting water samples for phosphorus analysisVolunteers who take water samples as part of Ontario’s Lake Partner Program are key to what we know about phosphorus in Lake of the Woods and throughout the entire watershed. Bev Clark, an environmental scientist and consultant who has worked on Lake of the Woods and with the Foundation for many years,  presents the Lake of the Woods phosphorus story. In a later article, Bev will focus on the upstream waters that feed into Lake of the Woods, including the Rainy River and beyond.