Blue-green Algae on Ella Lake – Update

Update – 31 March 2013:

An Ella Lake resident has just reported that the Blue-green Algae bloom is still persisting. So all local residents, cottagers and fishermen should continue to refrain from drinking, boiling, or using the water for the sauna.

Dr. Andrea Kirkwood, Faculty of Science, University of Ontario Institute of Technology has taken a special interest in our winter outbreak, and has offered to examine a sample to determine the strain of blue-green algae present in Ella Lake.

Vermilion River Stewardship and the Beaver Lake Sports and Cultural Club are very concerned about public safety, and have requested signage warning of the blue-green algae to be posted at Ella Lake and Wabagishik Lake boat launches. Read more

Blue-green Algae – Request for Signage to Warn of Danger, VRS to Chief Medical Officer of Health

Letters to Dr. Alrene King, Chief Medical Officer of Health, requesting signage to be posted at Ella Lake and Wabagishik Lake boat launch areas to warn tourist ice fishermen and recreationists of the danger of using the river water for sauna, boiling for tea, coffee, etc.

2013-Blue Green Algae-Chief Med Officer


Overload: Lake Erie Blue Green Algae: Problems & Solutions

The Vermilion River had a confirmed Blue-Green Algae outbreak in February of 2013.  This bloom is of great concern to local residents as these blooms are normally associated with the warm low flow conditions of late summer, but has now happened throughout the cold winter months.  The bloom was first noticed in November of 2012, and has been persistent until it was sampled by MOE in February.

The Vermilion River Watershed has 9 City of Sudbury Waste Water Treatment Facilities releasing treated, untreated and undertreated effluent into its waters, as well as several potentially damaging future developments going through the approvals process.   Any planned development must consider the thousands of people, aquatic life and wildlife that rely on the Vermilion’s resources for its daily needs.

The film below was produced by the Windsor Essex County Environment Committee in partnership with the Essex Region Conservation Authority and the International Joint Commission, this 5 minute video promotes steps we can all take to reduce the problems contributing to blue-green algae.

Blue-green Algae Spotted on Ella Lake, City of Greater Sudbury – February 2013

Blue-green is not just a summer problem.  A bloom was reported on 15 February 2013 and has been confirmed.  This bloom is reported to have persisted since November of 2012.

Media coverage over blue green algae being confirmed on Ella Lake:

Blue Green Algae Outbreak on Ella Lake – Vermilion River – December through to February 2012-2013

Blue-green algae on Ella Lake - November 2012

Blue-green algae on Ella Lake – November 2012

We have just had confirmation from MOE that we have a blue green algae outbreak on Ella Lake; however, we don’t have the details of what the toxicity levels are yet.   In the meantime, please refrain from using the lake/river water for drinking, brushing your teeth, sauna, showering, bathing, etc.  It was reported that this outbreak has been persistent since at least December, so this is a very curious situation and I suggest you refrain from using the water for the rest of the winter at least.  We will let you know more once all the details are known.

You should not drink surface water during an algal bloom, even if it is treated, because in-home treatments such as boiling and disinfecting water with chlorine or UV and water filtration units do not protect people from blue-green algal toxins.

If you have an opportunity to talk to any ice fishermen on the upstream lakes, please inquire as to whether they have seen this blue green algae (scum) coming up through their ice holes.  If blue green algae has been seen on any of the upstream lakes, please call the Health Unit at 705 522-9200 and they will come out to take a sample.   Please also contact Vermilion River Stewardship at to let us know so we can warn the local residents.

VRS will start our telephone tree; however, we may be missing some people living on the river, so please let your neighbours know of the outbreak and ask them not to use the lake/river water for any of the above uses.

For more information on blue green algae, please check out the information on our website at:

Cliffs Chromite Project – Cliffs’ Response to Vermilion River Stewardship – 2013-01-29

Cliff’s Response to VRS regarding our comments on the Amended Terms of Reference:

This letter is to inform you that Cliffs Natural Resources, through its subsidiaries and affiliates, intends to develop the Black Thor deposit in the McFaulds Lake Area in Northern Ontario.   The Cliffs Chromite Projects (Project) consists of extracting and processing chromite ore, exclusively from the Black Thor deposit with incidental contact along the adjacent Black Label deposit, and transporting the concentrate to a Ferrochrome Production Facility (FPF).  The proposed undertaking includes the construction, operation and retirement of the following four project components……..



Vermillion River to use grant funds for water quality testing

OTFHORIZcolourBy Jonathan Migneault, The Sudbury Star

In a rare occurrence, the Vermillion River Stewardship received all $103,000 it had asked for from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to fund a research project that will sample the water quality of the Vermillion River over a two-year period.

Nickel Belt MPP France Gelinas, who has been a strong supporter for more testing of the Vermillion River, said it was the first time she has seen the Ontario Trillium Foundation hand out the full amount requested by a non-profit organization.

The grant will allow Vermillion River Stewardship to pay two technicians from Conservation Sudbury, who will work with a volunteer to test and analyze the full length of the river. Read more

Save Wabagishik Rapids – Vermilion River

Wabagishik Rapids is a beautiful 1 km stretch of rapids on the Vermilion River, about 1/2 hour west of Sudbury, Ontario. A developer is proposing to build a modified run of river hydroelectric dam that would produce enough power to supply about 1,600 homes. These types of dams have numerous negative impacts associated with them, and are very harmful to the riverine ecosystem. Check out this film to find out more.

Full length film:

Short preview of the full version:

Find out how you can help by going to our Membership page.

Federal agencies raise flag over Ring of Fire

Environment Canada and Canadian Wildlife Service urge caution in assessing chromite project

Posted: Feb 21, 2012 8:39 AM ET – Last Updated: Feb 23, 2012 7:01 AM ET

Cliffs Natural Resoures Black Thor chromite mine project is set in the Ring of Fire region in northern Ontario.

Cliffs Natural Resoures Black Thor chromite mine project is set in the Ring of Fire region in northern Ontario.

CBC News has learned two federal agencies want a more thorough review of the environmental impacts of chromium mining in the Ring of Fire. Read more

Cliffs considers Vermilion river for smelter’s water supply

Other industrial development planned for Vermilion as well

CBC News Posted: Nov 19, 2012 10:52 AM ET


Read 2 comments2

1-VRS - Above CliffsCliffs Natural Resources says it’s evaluating a number of water sources, including the Vermilion River, for its proposed ferrochrome smelter in Capreol in Sudbury — and that has the local stewardship committee concerned.

Vermilion River Stewardship chair Linda Heron said the river can’t take any more development.

“For years the water levels have been going lower and lower, so we question what we can afford to lose additionally out of the river,” she said.

There are already five proposals for hydro-electric dams that could end up on the Vermilion River, in addition to the Cliffs project. Xeneca has four proposed Hydro electric dams on the Vermilion River, and Water Power Group plans to put a hydroelectric dam in Capreol.

Operating within watershed

Jason Aagenes, director of Environmental Affairs with Cliffs, said an environmental assessment will determine the effect of operating within the Vermilion River watershed, especially during extended low-flow river conditions.

“Water intake from rivers will be governed by only allowing a small percentage of withdrawal from historical low flow river conditions,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

The environmental assessment will also determine the impact of the project on downstream users.

Heron said she hopes the province will carefully consider the impact Cliffs’ smelter will have on the river.

“This development will be in a watershed, and they will be right next to the Vermillion River,” she said. “So whatever happens there will flow down to us.”

Cliffs is also eyeing the Roberts River, as well as water in nearby pits, site surface water run-off, and alternative groundwater sources for its Capreol ferrochrome production facility.