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Bright spots among lakes in the Rideau Valley Watershed, Ontario

Juno Garrah, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University; Urban Systems Lab, The New School
Barbara Frei, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University
Elena M. Bennett, Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University; McGill School of Environment, McGill University


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Water quality, of critical importance to the ecological and social health of lake ecosystems, is maintained through complex interactions within lakes as well as between lakes and their watersheds. Often, water quality is managed by working toward improved water clarity, however, our ability to predict water clarity, and to manage lakes for it, is not always as successful as desired. Regional strategies for water clarity improvement often overlook the role of local environmental stewardship actions performed by lake associations on individual lakes across a region. Lake associations can act through directly altering biophysical drivers of clarity or the way that residents act within the system, demonstrating great potential to be incorporated into successful lake scale water quality management plans. We used a “bright spots” lens, in which we focus on those lakes whose water quality is higher than expected, to investigate the relationship between lake associations and water quality on 39 lakes in the Rideau Valley Lake Region (Ontario, Canada). We found that lake associations that are linked to “bright spot” lakes operate in a distinctly different way than other groups in the region, focusing on networking and advocacy activities instead of on ecological management. This points to the importance of working toward networking and advocacy goals as a future for lake stewardship groups in the Rideau Valley and other stewardship groups adapting this approach to their own social-ecological contexts.

Key words

bright spots; Canada; comanagement; environmental stewardship; lake associations; social-ecological systems; water quality

Copyright © 2019 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087