Water sample with algae from Cloud Lake
Dr. Rob Stewart holding a water sample collected on Cloud Lake. Algal blooms remain a concern on the lake. (Image: Samuel Pegg, 21 July 2015)

In recent years user groups and resource managers have noted declining ecosystem conditions in Cloud Lake. A decline in water quality has been observed as indicated by algal blooms, increased turbidity, and elevated phosphorus concentrations. In addition, aquatic invasive species—rusty crayfish and smelt—have been introduced, and the quality of the fishery has decreased. There are several potential causes for the decline in ecosystem health, but field studies have been limited to single data points without the benefit of a planned and coordinated effort to gather data over multiple seasons. Lakehead University has agreed to collect baseline data this summer to better define and understand the environmental factors that may be affecting the watershed.

The intent of the project is to determine the state of the aquatic resource, to provide outreach materials for property owners, as well as recommendations for ensuring the health of Cloud Lake. All data and results are available for residents of Cloud Lake to access at any point during the project. We welcome any input/observations about changes to the Lake.

Questions about the project can be directed to:
Dr. Rob Stewart
Department of Geography and the Environment
Lakehead University
(link to faculty page)


Links to the data will be posted here as they become available.


May – September 2015 – Lake Water samples:
A student researcher will collect water samples from the surface to the bottom of the lake to capture seasonal phosphorus levels. Samples will also be collected from the three main tributaries flowing into Cloud Lake, and at the outflow.

Late August (2 days) – Fish Habitat and Health:
A student researcher will be traveling by boat around the perimeter of the lake to characterize the extent of algal development and survey the lake bottom to characterize the quality of fish habitat.

August (3 days) – Fish Survey:
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) collected fish samples to better understand fish population dynamics in Cloud Lake.

September – December 2015:
Data was compiled and synthesized for a report to provincial representatives of Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and Ministry of Natural Resources.

February 2016:
Report on algal blooms and phosphorus levels presented by graduate student Nathan Wilson and undergrad Kyle Wright to Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and Ministry of Natural Resources. The meeting is also attended by reps from Lakehead University, the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority, the Municipality of Neebing, EcoSuperior Environmental Programs, Northern Bio-Science and Streamline Consulting.

August 2016:
Graduate student and Cloud Lake researcher Nathan Wilson to defend his thesis on understanding phosphorus distribution in Cloud Lake.



Funding support comes from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC). Additional support for this project comes from the Northshore Steelhead Association, Superior Streams, and the Thunder Bay Stewardship Council.


Phosphorus reduction is something we can all have a hand in. Here are some resources and practices for your daily life around reducing phosphorus.


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