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Lake Profile

Ontario

General Information

Description Lake Ontario is one of the five Laurentian Great Lakes. It holds approximately four times as much water as Lake Erie, due to its greater depth.
Country Canada
United States of America
Latitude 43° 35' 0" (43.5833)
Longitude -78° 0' 0" (-78.0000)
State New York
Lake Region Laurentian Great Lakes
River Basin Saint Lawrence

Maps

 Ontario global index map (LakeNet Explorer)
 Largest Lakes in the World by Area (LakeNet Explorer 2004)
 Largest Lakes of the World by Volume (LakeNet Explorer 2004)
 Laurentian Great Lakes locator map
 Ontario bathymetry map (The Great Lakes Forecasting System)
 Lake Basin Management Initiative (LakeNet Explorer)

Physical Characteristics

Description Approximately 80 percent of the water flowing into Lake Ontario comes from Lake Erie through the Niagara River.
Volume 1,640.00 km3
Surface Area 18,960.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 86.0 m
Maximum depth: 244.0 m
Residence Time 6.0 years
Age 0 - 10,000 years before present
Origin Glacial
Type Fresh
Permanent
Natural
Catchment Catchment size: 64,030.00 km2
Catchment/surface area ratio: 3:1

Socio-Political

Economic Value
Major Cities Toronto, Canada
Hamilton, Canada

Watershed Management

Description Lake Ontario's lakewide management plan was updated in 2003 (see Resources section below). The revised plan keeps a close watch on emerging issues for the lake, including the potential threat of botulism and new contaminants called PBDEs.
Watershed Action Plan Implementation underway
Issues
Other Issues Climate Change
Erosion
Health Advisories - Fish
Health Advisories - Swimming
Invasive Species
Nutrient pollution
Polluted runoff
Sediment contamination
Toxics
Watershed habitat alteration
Specific Contaminants Mercury
Pathogens
POPs/PCPs/Endocrine Disrupters
Monitoring The revised management plan (2003) includes a new monitoring program to better understand ongoing sources of contamination and the effects of invasive species on the lower foodweb.
Monitoring Programs In-Lake
Water Quality
Biological Resources and Habitats
Lake Use

Biodiversity Conservation

Description
Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
WWF Freshwater Eco-Region - Ontario
WWF Conservation Status Priority V
Species of Concern
Biological Distinctiveness Nationally Important

Organizations

Council of Great Lakes Governors
Great Lakes Information Network
International Joint Commission
TEACH Great Lakes
Great Lakes Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species
Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
Great Lakes United
Great Lakes National Program Office
U.S. Geological Survey, Great Lakes Science Center
Great Lakes Protection Fund
Great Lakes Commission
International Association for Great Lakes Research
Steering Committee of the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Alliance for the Great Lakes
Great Lakes Interagency Task Force
Healing Our Waters
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

LakeNet Programs

World Lake Basin Management Initiative
Exchanges Among Environmental Specialists on 20 Lakes in the Former Soviet Union and in Eastern & Central Europe
LakeNet 2000: A Dialogue on Participatory Watershed Management
LBMI Regional Experience Sharing and Review Workshop for Europe, Central Asia & the Americas
U.S. NGO Delegation Visit to Japan, March 2003

Documents

Great Lakes (North American)  (PDF) Experience Brief. Final. MacDonagh-Dumler et al.. 2/27/2006.
LakeNet News, Winter 2003-2004 (PDF)  Newsletter. Final. English. 12/20/2003.
Managing Lake Basins for Sustainable Use - Lake Basin Management Initiative Final Report (PDF)  Project Report. Final. English. 2/27/2006.

Resources

2005 Invasive Species Education Program
A Methodology For Identifying and Classifying Aquatic Biodiversity Investment Areas: Application in the Great Lakes Basin
Actions Toward a Sustainable Great Lakes
An electronic atlas of Great Lakes ice cover, winters 1973 - 2002
Bi-National Strategy for the Virtual Elimination of Persistent Toxic Substances in the Great Lakes Basin
Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
Biodiversity of freshwater mussels in the lower Great Lakes drainage basin (1997)
Canada-US Great Lakes Binational Toxics Strategy
Crop Explorer - Global Reservoir and Lake Elevation Monitoring
Crop Explorer - Lake Level Variations from TOPEX/POSEIDON and Jason-1 Altimetry for Lake Ontario
GEMStat - Global Water Quality Data and Statistics
Giving rivers: protected areas and environmental flows in North America
GLNPO: Lake Ontario Web Page
Great Lakes Basin Water Management Initiative: Sustainable Water Resources Agreement
Great Lakes Monitoring Programs
Great Lakes Strategy 2002: A Plan for the New Millennium
Human Dimensions of Great Lakes Fisheries Management
ILEC Database
International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Study
Introduction to Great Lakes traditional culture
Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan
Large Lakes of the World: Advances in Modeling
Large-Scale Ecosystem Restoration: Lessons for Existing and Emerging Initiatives
Marsh Monitoring Program
Mercury in Freshwaters
Ontario Advisory Number 3518
The Conservation of Biological Diversity in the Great Lakes Basin: Issues & Opportunities

News

12/13/2013 - Botulism bacteria blamed for deaths of waterbirds on Lake Ontario
1/10/2013 - New Great Lakes Map Highlights Environmental Threats and Opportunities
12/17/2012 - Environmental Threat Map Highlights Great Lakes Restoration Challenges
10/17/2012 - Great Lakes levels near all-time low
7/13/2012 - New risk assessment validates threat from Asian carp and points to Chicago-area waterways as most likely pathway into the Great Lakes
7/13/2012 - US and Canada: Report says Asian carp could thrive in Great Lakes
3/10/2012 - Great Lakes ice coverage falls 71 percent over 40 years, researcher says
1/1/2012 - Great Lakes: Closing off the Carp
2/25/2010 - Great goals for the Great Lakes
1/14/2009 - Great Lakes Water Levels Sensitive To Climate Change
2/5/2007 - Data shows warming eventually will shrink Great Lakes
8/4/2006 - Great Lakes Forever, Budweiser, and Anheuser-Busch Wholesalers Coast Into Partnership to Protect the Great Lakes
5/8/2006 - Group reviewing dated Great Lakes treaty
12/21/2005 - Watershed Council hails recent Great Lakes initiatives; question funding commitment
12/14/2005 - 2 pacts prohibit diversion of Great Lakes water
4/20/2005 - Invasive species in most Great Lakes ships
4/7/2005 - Disappearing Lakes, Shrinking Seas
1/18/2005 - Immediate action sought to protect Great Lakes from invaders
10/22/2004 - Parliamentary committee to study Great Lakes deal
9/27/2004 - An ambitious new project uses lake water to cool off city slickers
9/17/2004 - Great Lakes Plagued By Pollution
8/25/2004 - Pollutants linger in lakes, EPA report says
7/19/2004 - Great Lakes speak out on invasive species
7/16/2004 - New Great Lakes rules expected on Monday
5/23/2004 - Great Lakes conservation efforts taking a dive with politics
5/19/2004 - Federal task force to lead Great Lakes clean-up
5/13/2004 - Corps of Engineers vs. carp: The fight for the Great Lakes
5/6/2004 - Gulls reflect change in Great Lakes pollutants
4/28/2004 - Polluted lakes turning turtles into turtlettes
4/23/2004 - Towards a Lake Basin Management Initiative
4/8/2004 - Native cormorants? Not in Great Lakes
3/13/2004 - Cox shouldn't ignore issue of tainted ship water
2/10/2004 - Time for Immediate Action to Protect the Great Lakes from Invasion
2/5/2004 - New York state moves to block release of Asian carp
1/29/2004 - Bush administration proposes major new funding for Great Lakes clean-up
1/27/2004 - Leading Great Lakes Citizen's Groups call on Bush Administration to halt changes to sewage pathogen policy
1/19/2004 - Biologists help prehistoric fish make a comeback
11/28/2003 - Ontario water sources threatened, many species at risk, province's environmental commissioner warns
11/24/2003 - Destructive carp invader hits Lake Ontario
11/8/2003 - Study: dioxins may have wiped out Laurentian Great Lakes trout
9/28/2003 - Shipwreck found in Lake Ontario
9/25/2003 - Floating guardian assays lake
8/12/2003 - New York state taskforce to fight ecological invaders
6/9/2003 - Commercial use of aquifers could strain Great Lakes
5/15/2003 - Five dozen scientists call invasive species the most urgent environmental threat to the Great Lakes & Mississippi River Basin: Barriers urged for area rivers
4/30/2003 - Toxic algae threatens Great Lakes; U.S. funding is sought to combat outbreaks
3/16/2003 - Michigan worried thirsty states may be eyeing Great Lakes
2/27/2003 - New food chain threat musseling into Laurentian Great Lakes
2/11/2003 - Organism is disappearing from Great Lakes
2/1/2003 - Saving Canada's endangered mussels
12/16/2002 - Watching over the lake- invasive species in Lake Ontario
12/9/2002 - New report on urban nonpoint source pollution released for Great Lakes policymakers
11/21/2002 - Shrimp-like creatures disappear from Lake Ontario
11/15/2002 - Raising a stink: the controversy over pig farms
11/1/2002 - US Army Corps of Engineers plan to enlarge locks & deepen Lake Ontario channels
10/28/2002 - Toronto harbour hot spot for toxic chemical BDE; Hazardous flame retardant is related to banned PCBs
10/21/2002 - Tests find drug taint in water
10/19/2002 - Alien species named lakes' top enemy
9/19/2002 - Invasive perch nearing Lake Winnebago
7/21/2002 - Scientists recommend a fresh look at fresh water
7/12/2002 - Experts say big Asian carp threatens Great Lakes
7/9/2002 - Lax enforcement, low transparency make Ontario haven for polluters: report
5/6/2002 - Mapping underground water supplies
11/15/2001 - Hamilton's first pollution patrol boat (Canada)
8/28/2001 - Radioactive leaks in Lake Ontario raise concerns
8/4/2000 - Scientists try shock treatment for invaders (US, Canada)
11/9/1999 - Toxic mud fouls U.S. waters
5/11/1999 - Breast milk of women who eat Lake Ontario fish contains high levels of PCBs, study finds
7/8/1998 - Native fish found in U.S. Lake Ontario for first time in 50 years
2/17/1998 - In search of bad weather: scientists study lake-effect winter storms

Additional Data Sources

Abell, R. and D. Olson, E. Dinerstein, P. Hurley et al. 2000. Freshwater ecoregions of North America. Island Press. Washington, D.C.
Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
Duker, L. and L. Borre. 2001. Biodiversity conservation of the world's lakes: a preliminary framework for identifying priorities. LakeNet Report Series Number 2. Annapolis, Maryland USA.
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.
Munawar, M. And R. Hecky. 2001. The Great Lakes of the World (GLOW) Food-web, Health & Integrity. Backhuys Publishers, The Netherlands.
US EPA (2004) National Listing of Fish Advisories Database

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