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The seasonal algae bloom on Lake of the Woods is underway and has progressed up into the north end of the lake, as shown in the collage of derived chlorophyll-a data for Sept 26 through Oct 5 (data imaged courtesy of EOLakeWatch, Dr. Caren Binding ECCC).   The bloom has now developed in the northern part of the lake through to the Kenora area, and as can seen in the Chl-a data for Oct 4 & 5, the bloom is even present in the Ptarmigan channel / bay area of the "Clearwater" complex of bays.  However, the blooms in these lower nutrient isolated bays may be a result of the strong shift...

AAExpert 400jpgOver two hundred attended our five-part Ask and Expert webinar series this fall.  Our lineup of experts had a wealth of knowledge and this was a great chance to connect directly with them. The webinars were recorded, so if you were not able to attend you can view the recordings at your leisure.

View Now! 

BTalgaeThe Foundation has launched a project to develop a framework for a future phosphorus management plan for the Canadian portion of the binational Rainy-River-Lake of the Woods, with the support of a Contribution Agreement from Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

This project will scope and outline the key elements that would be required to develop a domestic phosphorus management plan collaboratively with relevant parties in the basin, once phosphorus targets are set by Canada domestically or as shared binational targets with Minnesota.

This work is timely now, to prepare for moving from research to action. In late June, the US EPA approved Minnesota’s phosphorus plan that sets phosphorus targets for each source to the Rainy River and Lake of the Woods. In Canada, ECCC completed public engagements last spring on potential phosphorus reduction scenarios based on its four-year science program (see the LOWWSF “What We Heard Report”).

NewForumLogo 3Save the dates!  The 2022 International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Forum will be held March 9-10, 2022 as a virtual online event.  The 2022 Forum will feature special sessions on emerging vulnerabilities, zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species, in addition to the usual topics that include fisheries, climate change and more!

Like last year, the Forum will be held virtually as an online event, due to continued uncertainty about cross border travel.  More information about the Forum is available now and more details will roll out (including the program and attendee registration) over the winter at the Foundation’s website:

ECCC 2021 samplemapEnvironment and Climate Change Canada’s team responsible for sampling water quality on Lake of the Woods was out this September doing a lake-wide survey of 28 sites (see map). Water quality sampling had been paused last year due to Covid restrictions. In addition, they re-initiated their long-term monitoring of the Rainy River inflow to Lake of the Woods and the Winnipeg River outflow.

At each site, water quality parameters measured included: phosphorous, nitrogen, carbon and their various forms, total and dissolved metals, major ions, Chlorophyll a, Phycocyanin (an algal pigment found in blue-green algae), total suspended solids, algal toxins and taxonomy, secchi depths, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, conductivity and temperature. 


Collage SatAug31 SmkJly29The seasonal algae bloom on Lake of the Woods is underway and has progressed up into the north end of the lake, as shown in the satellite image and associated derived chlorophyll-a data for August 31. 

For much of the summer, it seemed like a "light year" for algae blooms, but blooms began to develop in mid-to late August.  The low blooms in much of the mid-summer may perhaps be due to the low water and low flows from the nutrient-rich southern basin of Lake of the Woods, or perhaps lower light conditions due to the intense smoke that blanketed the lake throughout July and into the first week of August.  The smoke conditions also likely limited the days for which the satellite tools could generate good chlorophyll-a estimates.  The satellite tools, developed by Dr. Caren Binding at Environment and Climate Change Canada, hold much promise for long-term monitoring of trends  in algae bloom intensity and severity.  

zebramusselsDisappointing news.  Zebra mussel larvae have been confirmed in Rainy Lake by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR).  The larvae were found in four of five water samples taken in July 2021, suggesting that there is a reproducing population in the lake according to MNDNR. This follows on an unconfirmed report of larvae in 2020 by a member of the public.  Locations of adult reproductive colonies have not yet been located or confirmed. Rainy Lake straddles the Ontario-Minnesota border and flows downstream via the Rainy River to Lake of the Woods.  

This follows equally concerning confirmations by MN DNR in 2019 and 2020 of zebra mussel larvae at several sites in the southern portion of Lake of the Woods.  


What we heardLOWWSF has released a report summarizing what we heard from the public during engagement sessions with Environment and Climate Change Canada on its set of proposed lake ecosystem objectives and potential phosphorus reduction scenarios to improve water quality for Lake of the Woods.  Hundreds participated in ten webinars and online via ECCC's Lake of the Woods engagement website.  The messages were clear and a call to action -- "get on with it":

  • Adopt a 20% phosphorus reduction target
  • Set binational phosphorus targets
  • Ensure ongoing core monitoring
  • Act without further delay

  pdf Download the report here (551 KB)