Frequently Asked Questions

The following are questions most often asked of the Association. Some were answered in previous News & Views Newsletters, while others were answered by guest speakers at our Annual General Meetings. Answers to other questions you might have, that are not included here, may be found by browsing the various pages elsewhere on this web site.

1) What is the Shadow Lakes Association Inc (SLA), and why do they always ask me to pay annual membership dues?

The Shadow Lakes Association Inc is a local group of volunteers made up of seasonal and permanent residents who care about our little piece of paradise here in the City of Kawartha Lakes. They represent concerned people between Norland and Coboconk, who use the Shadow Lakes and Gull River waters, and want to see them protected. They do this by: publishing two newsletters a year about what is going on in the area that directly affects us all, and distributing them to every homeowner and cottager with lake access; maintaining this web site; posting reminder speed signs at various places on our waterways; providing the hazard and navigation markers that indicate dangerous shoals and safe channels for boaters; and delivering a yearly Annual General Meeting; among other things. Since all this costs money, they ask every seasonal and permanent resident in the area to contribute a small annual fee of $30 to cover these expenses.

2) What is a “road monitor”, and what do they do?

Road monitors are volunteers recruited by the Shadow Lakes Association Inc (SLA) to deliver the SLA newsletter, twice a year, to all permanent and seasonal residents in the Shadow Lakes area, between Norland and Coboconk, who have water access. The road monitor for your road likely has a property on your road, although some roads do not have their own road monitor. Ideally we would like to have at least one road monitor for each road, and for roads where there are a lot of properties, more than one monitor. If you would like to become a road monitor, or would like to share the job with your own road monitor, contact one of the SLA Volunteer Board Members, or our Road Monitor team.

3) What are those Red, Green and Yellow balls or blocks floating on the local waterways?

Visit our lake marker page for more information.

These navigation buoys (sometimes called markers) are there for the convenience and safety of boaters. YELLOW ones indicate a submerged hazard, and boats should stay well clear of them. RED and GREEN ones indicate a safe channel between them for boats to follow. Where there is only a single RED or GREEN buoy, then, when going upstream (or north, or against the current), the RED buoy should pass by on the Right side of your vessel (Red Right Returning is the phrase to remember), and the GREEN buoy on the Left side. When going downstream (or south, or with the current), it is the reverse. It is important not to disturb these markers; by moving them, tying your vessel to them, or colliding with them, it is also illegal. Shallow-draught vessels such as canoes, kayaks, paddleboats and some smaller outboards, as well as swimmers, and people floating on water toys and such, do not need to stay between the buoys, and should move out of a marked channel if a boat approaches. We try, but it is possible that not every hazard and channel is marked by a buoy. If you find that a buoy has been damaged, moved, or is missing, please email us so that we can arrange to have this fixed. You can also see more information on our lake marker page. These buoys are constructed and placed there each year by the Shadow Lakes Association Inc, at a cost of about $3,000, which is paid for by our annual SLA membership fee. However, since unforeseen circumstances (fluctuating water levels, vandalism, etc) can cause these buoys to move, the SLA is not responsible for any damage to a vessel resulting from the placement of these buoys.

4) Can anyone put a raft in the water in front of their property?

Rafts, floating diving platforms, etc, whatever they are called, are part of cottage appeal. However, if not placed and marked properly, they can be dangerous, and the owner liable if a vessel collides with one. There are regulations that govern the placement and proper marking of rafts. Please refer to Canada’s Navigable Waters Act for more information or another good resource is Parks Canada.

5) Why do the water levels in our lakes/rivers go up and down during the year?

With the exception of the mill pond in Coboconk and about 200 metres upstream from the millpond the remainder of our lakes are what are known as flow-through lakes. That means that our water levels are entirely governed by the rate of flow over the dam at Norland. The dams and lakes above ours are meant to catch the spring run-off water and then let it go as needed into the Trent-Severn Waterway. Any change to the dam in Coboconk affects the water level only about 1 km back from it. It is the flow rate through the system that affects water levels. Flow rates are adjusted on weekends to allow more water to flow into the Trent-Severn system. Water levels in our system can rise several inches in one day if flow rates are raised to a heavy level. There are flow meters in the Gull River near Norland, which are regularly monitored. There is also a blue and white depth gauge on the south end (opposite end from the launch ramp) of Government Dock. According to the Trent-Severn Waterway office in Peterborough, during the summer boating season, the flow rate can vary from 12 cubic metres/second (light) to 27 cubic metres/second (heavy). At 12 cubic metres/second, the depth guage should show about 0.46 metres. At 27 cubic metres/second, the depth guage should show about 0.93 metres. A “normal” flow rate of about 20 cubic metres/second (medium) should show a depth of about 0.75 metres.

Resources available for updates about current and potential impacts on the levels of waterways are listed below. 

Parks Canada / Trent Severn Waterway maintains the Ontario Waterways Water Management InfoNet on the Trent-Severn Waterway website at
To be added to the Trent Severn Water Management Update list to receive information as it becomes available, please email

The Kawartha Conservation updates their watershed statements via email and social media.  Please visit  for more details.

The MNRF is also a great resource for watershed information  or MNRF Minden Area office at 705-286-5207

6) I s the quality of our lake / river water tested, and is it safe enough to drink?

Surface water is not safe to drink. Surface water sources include lakes, rivers, streams and ponds. They are open to the environment, may be contaminated by human and animal activity and the quality of the water may change significantly with the weather (storms or heavy rain). It is possible to treat surface water and make it safe to drink, but treatment must deal with viruses, bacteria, parasites and with changing physical characteristics such as turbidity, chemical contaminants (oil or gasoline residue, pesticides and herbicides) and organic material. Reach out to Haliburton, Kawartha, Pineridge District Health Unit for instructions on how to test your treated lake water intake (or your well water) Treatment should be designed by an experienced professional to fit the source. Untreated surface water should not be sampled for testing as drinking water because it is known not safe to drink. The Public Health Laboratory will reject such sample submissions.

Beaches are monitored by the local Public Health Department to protect swimmers from illnesses that may be linked to unacceptable bacteria levels. Swimming in water with unacceptable bacteria levels can result in an increased risk of infection of the ears, eyes, nose and throat or gastrointestinal or stomach illnesses if the water is swallowed. See our Water Quality page for more information and links.

Swimmers Itch

From time to time there are reports of ‘Swimmers Itch’ in parts of our lake and river system. Below is some additional information and resources to help you navigate this pesty parasite. The SLA Association does not complete water testing. However a great water quality resource to use is the annual HKPR District Health Unit Beach Water Monitoring program which begins in June and runs until September every year. (Labour Day) They test waters at designated beaches and inform the public when elevated levels of E. coli bacteria are identified. As part of this program, HKPR District Health Unit public health staff collect water samples from each beach for monitoring. These samples are then sent to a provincial lab and tested for levels of E. coli bacteria.  The Norland Beach (Bathing Area – located on Shadow Lake Rd 3) is apart of this testing.

What is Swimmers Itch? (Source: )

  • A skin rash that causes itching and redness. You can get it while swimming
  • There is no treatment required for Swimmer’s Itch. While the rash is uncomfortable, itching symptoms may continue for several days, before disappearing within several days
  • People are encouraged to avoid scratching if at all possible. Applying skin lotions to the affected areas of the body can provide some relief
  • Swimmer’s Itch affects people of all ages, but children are most often affected since they play or swim in shallow water where the parasite that causes Swimmer’s Itch is most likely to be found

What Causes Swimmers Itch? (Source: )

  • Usually caused by a parasite called Shistosomes, which commonly affects birds, semi-aquatic mammals, and snails
  • Parasite will penetrate the skin of people who swim in water infested with Schistosomes (typically in shallow water close to shore). These invisible parasites burrow under the skin and quickly die, causing an allergic reaction (Swimmer’s Itch)
  • It’s hard to predict when and where Swimmer’s Itch will occur. The presence of parasites that cause the condition is based on a number of biological and environmental factors.

Preventing Swimmers Itch (Source: )

  • Check for warning signs at public beaches, lakes and picnic areas for notices stating swimmer’s itch may be present
  • Before swimming, create a water-proof barrier by applying baby oil, creams containing DEET, Swimmer’s Itch Guard, or similar products on exposed skin to prevent parasite larvae from burrowing into your skin
  • Swim away from the shoreline where the parasite that causes Swimmer’s Itch is most likely to be found. If you are unsure about the water, avoid areas with lots of weed growth (there may be more snails and larvae around aquatic plants)
  • Use a pier or dock to enter the water to help reduce your exposure to parasites near the shore. Make sure these structures are approved for swimming and do not dive into unknown waters
  • Rub your skin with a rough towel as soon as you get out of the water. If water is left to dry on the skin, there is a greater likelihood of developing Swimmer’s Itch.
  • Have a shower with clean water as soon as you leave the lake or river. NOTE: Showering will not remove any larvae that have already burrowed into your skin.

The CDC also has some great information about Swimmers Itch!

7) When a floatplane is landing or taking off on our lake, do boats have to yield right of way to it?

Legally the sailing vessel has the right of way over a waterplane, but when a floatplane is still in the air, and is landing, the pilot is supposed to make sure the way is clear to land. However, courtesy would suggest that, if a boat notices that it is likely to proceed into the path of a landing aircraft, it could more easily change direction and yield the right of way, rather than force the aircraft to go back up and return for another pass. The same is true for takeoffs. However, once the plane is on the water, it effectively becomes a boat, and is then governed by the rules associated with boating rights of way. Please keep well clear of floatplanes when they are moving on the water.

8) Why do I sometimes find dead fish floating in the lake?

It is not uncommon to find the occasional dead fish floating in our waterways. Fish that have been caught by anglers, then released, may have been over-stressed, and die. Also, fluctuating water levels can destroy the habitat of smaller fish, causing them to die. Since many fish live in weeds, when the weeds die, their decomposition robs the water of oxygen, again leading to the death of smaller fish. This is probably the biggest cause. Fertilizing lawns near the shore, or bathing humans and pets with soap in our waters, releases phosphorous-containing nutrients into the water, adding to this problem, and should be avoided. “Winterkill” is another reason you may find dead fish in the spring. The Ministry of Natural Resources says winterkill is not an uncommon event, especially in the Kawartha Lakes because they’re shallow lakes. When there’s a long winter with ice cover, plants can’t photosynthesize. The ice also prevents oxygen recharge from the atmosphere, so the oxygen levels begin to deplete. The kill commonly takes place in one bay of a lake, where the fish are often trapped. Winterkill can be caused by decreased water levels in the system – the shallower the lake, the more likely the fish will be impacted.

9) Are there official speed limits for vessels on our local waterways?

The Gull River sections, from the pond in Coboconk to Silver Lake, and from Shadow Lake to the dam at Norland, have speed limits that are clearly posted at each end at 9 km/h. The same 9 km/h speed limit should be kept through “the chute” and “the narrows”. 10 km/h should be maintained within 30 metres of shore, the exception being if you are heading straight out from shore, or straight towards shore, as in starting/finishing towing a skier or other water toy. There is no speed limit on open water, but use common sense when around other boat traffic, or when the water conditions are not optimum. With the exception of the 9 km/h signs, the SLA posts speed signs throughout the waterways, and at common boat-launch sites, to remind people of the rules.

10) Is it safe to take my boat through “the chute”?

The Chutes (or sometimes referred to as the rapids) are located where Shadow Lake and Silver Lake meet and the ‘chute’ is very narrow with many underwater or above water rocks. Remember that the chute is a restricted speed zone – 9 km/h. Smaller boats and jet skis usually have no trouble navigating the chute, since they have a shallow draught. There is a large boulder in the cente of the chute below the “island”. To properly navigate it, visually split the narrowest part of the channel in two. Then, when going upstream, keep to the centre of the right half, about 4-5 feet out from the “island”. Use this same channel for coming down again. Please allow vessels which are coming downstream through the chute to have the right of way , because once they are in the current, they cannot stop, nor do they have space to maneuver. Whereas a boat moving upstream can effectively “tread water” while waiting. And please don’t anchor your boat in the channel for fishing. Keep off to the side.

11) What should I do if I encounter a bear on or near my property?

If you or anyone has a bear encounter that poses an immediate threat or danger to humans, dial 911 and report it to the OPP. If it is a case of an ongoing but non-life threatening bear annoyance, contact the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Bear Line at 1-866-514-BEAR (2327). Do NOT call the City of Kawartha Lakes. Bear problems are a provincial issue. There has been an increase in bear experiences in our area in the last few years, mainly because of the implementation of curbside garbage pickup. People who put garbage out overnight, especially in green garbage bags, are inviting trouble. Once the crows and racoons have gotten into it, the bears are attracted by the smell. Put garbage in garbage cans, or better yet, inside a sturdy garbage bin. This will keep the crows and racoons from getting at it. Another suggestion is to put it out the morning of, rather than the night before, garbage pickup. For more information please visit the Ontario Governement Bear Wise webpage.

12) Who is my local Ward Councillor, Mayor, MPP and MP, and how can I contact them?

If you would like more information about who our current Mayor is or our Ward 2 Councillor please visit the City of Kawartha Lakes Contact a Member webpage. Our local municipal representative for the City of Kawartha Lakes is Ward 2 Councillor Emmett Yeo. He can be reached at 705-454-9531 ext 3801 or email at .

Please visit the House of Commons Members of Parliament webpage for details of our current Federal MP Representative.

13) Are there trails in our area to hike, bike, walk, ski, snowmobile, etc?

Yes, there are some really great trails for all these purposes, depending on the season. Visit Kawartha Lakes Trails and Conservation areas webpage for all the details! There you will find a description of local trails, with maps. See our Links page for a direct link to this site.

14) Is there a public boat launch on the Lake?

Yes there is a public boat launch on the lake. It is located off Government Dock Road in Norland. Please visit City of Kawartha Lakes Beaches and Boat Launches webpage for more details. There are no washrooms or overnight docking allowed at this launch.