Funded By

National Capital Commission and Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund

Research Team

Dr. Steven Cooke, Carleton University
Dr. Jon Midwood, Carleton University
Cassia Belanger, Carleton University

Previous Team Members:
Keith Stamplecoskie, Carleton University
Alexandra Muhametsafina, Carleton University
Shireen Bliss, Carleton University
Christine Crawford, Carleton University

Please click here to see the introductory 2013 Watts Creek Brochure and the recently updated  Watts Creek Brochure

Research Summary

Title: Stream remediation and an evaluation of the relationship between habitat quality and fish condition, behaviour and survival in Watts Creek watershed.


Watts Creek watershed located in the Kanata region of the Municipality of Ottawa is composed primarily of two watercourses – Watts Creek and the Kizell Municipal Drain. The National Capital Commission (NCC) is a major riparian landowner within the Watts Creek watershed and is the primary steward of Watts Creek and the lower portion of Kizell Drain. These two watercourses have been differentially impacted by a variety of stressors such that Watts Creek has lower summer water temperatures than Kizell Drain. Based on a variety of assessments and a formal subwatershed study in 1999, the NCC views Watts Creek as a valuable geological and ecological feature to the National Capital such that any detrimental impact is of concern. The morphology of the system (i.e., proximity, interconnectedness and differential habitat quality) makes Kizell Drain and Watts Creek an ideal comparative system for better understanding how differential stream conditions influence fish community assemblage and individual fish condition, behaviour and survival. There is also great potential to undertake remediation work within the system and monitor success from both an ecological (i.e., increased diversity and/or abundance) and geological (i.e., reduced erosion) perspective.


Watts Creek, Kanata, Ottawa, ON


Our goals in Watts Creek therefore fall broadly into two categories: 1) linking habitat quality to fish condition, behaviour and survival and 2) habitat remediation.

Fish Goals

– Evaluate seasonal changes in fish community composition in Watts Creek and Kizell Drain
– Determine the degree of movement by fishes between the two systems
– Compare fish condition and stress responsiveness between the two systems

To accomplish these goals, we use backpack electrofishing to assess the fish community assemblage. Captured fish are then tagged with Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tags that allow us to identify individuals and track their movement throughout the system.

Remediation Goals

– Improve stream cover to help lower water temperatures
– Remove debris from the system to improve habitat connectivity
– Plant vegetation along banks to help limit erosion
– Install instream structure to both reduce erosion and provide fish habitat

Our remediation work has involved the planting of >250 trees, removal of numerous beaver dams and instream garbage, and the installation of cedar sweepers. For this remediation work, we have been fortunate to have several undergraduate classes and groups of volunteers come out and assist us.

WATTS Dec 13 006

A field crew backpack electrofishing in Watts Creek to assess fish community assemblage in the winter.

Please visit the Watts Creek blog for more information: