skip to main content

Lake Huron

Lake Huron photo by Brian Lasenby.

All the watersheds in the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) area drain into Lake Huron. What happens in the rivers and on the land has an impact on the lake. The 60 kilometres of shoreline features some of Ontario’s best beaches and sunsets. 

Several ABCA programs help protect life and property from the natural hazards of shoreline flooding and erosion, take action to improve Lake Huron water quality, increase awareness of water quality issues and actions people can take, and monitor water quality at several beaches. 

Please visit the programs web page for links to more information.

Healthy Lake Huron – Clean Water, Clean Beaches Partnership

Ausable Bayfield Conservation is part of the Healthy Lake Huron partnership. 

Canada and Ontario, in partnership with local municipal governments, local public health agencies, conservation authorities, and other local organizations develop and implement recommendations to protect and improve overall water quality along the southeast shores of Lake Huron.

Through Healthy Lake Huron, all partners are focusing on actions that are aimed at lowering the amount of phosphorus and reducing incidences of high levels of bacteria (such as E. coli) entering the water. 

More information on the initiative is found on the Healthy Lake Huron website.

Shoreline Video Series

Three local conservation authorities, working with community partners, have released four videos on shoreline themes for public information. 

The 2022 video series, videotaped by a professional video production company, includes two new videos and two updated videos. 

The videos provide information on four themes: shoreline processes; living with erosion; what you need to know before planning to build along the shoreline; and what you need to know before buying property along the shoreline.

Watch the series now:

Water levels on Lake Huron

Lake Huron water levels are of interest to property owners along or near the shoreline, to people who visit Lake Huron, and to people who rely on Lake Huron for economic reasons and as a source of drinking water.
The impacts of high water levels include erosion and unstable bluffs.

How can you find out more about water levels?

There are several sources of national and local information related to high water levels and their impacts.
Canada has a newsletter that provides a monthly update, on Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River water levels, LEVELnews, at this link:

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) issues Shoreline Conditions Statements, to local municipalities, when warranted. These statements are issued when weather forecasts over Lake Huron suggest a potential for high waves reaching the shoreline and resulting in potential coastal flooding and erosion issues. These messages, in addition to flood messages, are also posted on the website at this link:

The Shoreline Conditions Statements are also posted on Ausable Bayfield Conservation's social media channels (Facebook and Twitter):

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority has resources, (including the Shoreline Slope Stability Risks and Hazards Fact Sheet for Property Owners, by Terraprobe Inc.) on its website.

Download the fact sheet now (large PDF file):

In addition to LEVELnews (a Canadian newsletter that provides a monthly update) on Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River water levels), Environment and Climate Change Canada also has a web page with links to a number of official websites containing Great Lakes water level and related data:

The conservation authority, and its partners in the Healthy Lake Huron – Clean Water, Clean Beaches Partnership, are adding materials – this summer and autumn – related to water levels; water level impacts; and best practices residents can consider. These resources are to include a new fact sheet about what vegetation to plant along the shoreline.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation wants to help the public become aware of, and to navigate, the different sources of information related to lake levels; their impacts; and best practices.

“The high lake levels are a concern to us and to property owners and we want to do what we can to connect people to current information from the relevant authorities and to helpful information to deal with the impacts of high water levels,” said Geoffrey Cade, ABCA Water and Planning Manager.

Fact sheets for property owners

Ausable Bayfield Conservation and the Healthy Lake Huron partnership are sharing some more materials on the topic of water levels and water level impacts and fact sheets with practical and positive actions property owners can take. These fact sheets include bluff and shoreline stability (PDF) and fact sheets about adding vegetation. Visit and to learn more.

Download the fact sheets now:

‚ÄčVisit the the Healthy Lake Huron – Clean Water, Clean Beaches Partnership website to learn more:

For information on planning, shoreline regulations, and to apply for permits in Ausable Bayfield watersheds, please visit the Planning and Permits page.

Residents and visitors reminded to avoid lake and other waterbodies during season of cold temperatures 

The return of winter and dropping temperatures is a time for residents and visitors to remember to keep safe by keeping their distance from Lake Huron and creeks and rivers.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) joins local municipalities in reminding the public to put safety first this season.

As ice forms on the lake, it constantly breaks up, refreezes, and gets pushed toward the shoreline. This forms ice shelves that can stretch several metres out into the lake. It appears almost as an extension of the shoreline in some places. This may tempt some people to consider walking near or on these formations but these surfaces are not safe to walk on.  

Compared to ice that forms over bodies of standing water, ice forming over the Great Lakes is thinner and more unstable because the lake is always moving beneath it. What appears to be thick, stable ice, can hide large cracks or caverns. One wrong step and individuals can find themselves falling through the cracks and getting trapped in the caverns or plunging into the frigid waters. Hypothermia can set in within minutes in cold temperatures. Depending on conditions, it can be difficult for rescue crews to respond. As beautiful as these natural phenomena are, it is far better, and safer, to enjoy them from a great distance. 

The message to ‘Never walk on shelf ice’ is part of the conservation education river safety programs delivered to schools at no charge thanks to the support of local municipalities. The program (delivered to schools virtually in 2022) teaches about safe practices near rivers and lakes and discusses why you should avoid icy shorelines and ice shelves and educates about the phenomenon of ‘ice volcanoes.’

To find out more about lake and river safety messages visit Ausable Bayfield Conservation’s River Safety (formerly Spring Water Awareness Program) page here:

Shoreline Bluff Webinar from Maitland Conservation

Although the water level of Lake Huron has dropped somewhat recently, the risk of significant bluff erosion remains high. 

In a webinar from Shannon Millar, Shoreline Technician with Maitland Conseration, our neighbouring conservation authority (Maitland Valley Conservation Authority) outlines, in a webinar, types of potential bluff failures and provides tips on bluff safety. 

Watch the video now:

The questions from this webinar have been gathered in a FAQ document and posted on Maitland Conservation's website:  

(Lake Huron photo by Brian Lasenby)

Conservation authorities issue notice to advise public to use caution near shoreline bluff areas

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) and Maitland Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) are cautioning that shoreline bluffs continue to be at a high risk of collapse. They advise the public to continue to be cautious near these shoreline areas.

Erosion hazards are always present along shoreline bluffs but the conservation authorities want to remind the public the current risk of collapse remains higher than normal. This is because there can be a delay between erosion at the toe (bottom) of the bluff and subsequent bluff failure.  

Lake Huron water levels reached an all-time high in 1986 and lake levels were near that record high in 2020. Those high lake levels and associated wave action resulted in extensive toe erosion. Although the Lake Huron water level has declined since then, many portions of the bluffs were left over-steepened and may still be unstable as a result.

The high risk of bluff failure will continue as the slope adjusts to the recent impacts of toe erosion and bluff oversteepening. This makes some areas along Lake Huron’s shoreline prone to collapse. This is a risk that can be further heightened due to seasonal rainfall and snowmelt that can saturate the ground and soften the bluffs. In this area, these are seasonal conditions that we typically experience during autumn and winter thaws and in the spring. 

ABCA and MVCA continue to encourage landowners, the public, and municipal employees to stay away from the top of the lake bluff, especially where there have been signs of over-steepening or slope movement. Areas along the beach below these bluffs should also be avoided. Injury or loss of life could occur if a bluff collapses and beach users are caught in the deposition zone. The ABCA and MVCA continue to encourage landowners to monitor their property for signs of movement.

Unlike flood messages and low water advisories, that are issued and then expire as circumstances change, caution around shoreline bluff areas should always be practised as the risk of failure and collapse is inherent in a shoreline bluff system.

ABCA has created a fact sheet to help shoreline residents recognize signs of erosion. It also offers best management practices. A PDF file of the fact sheet is found on the Lake Huron web page on the website.

If you have questions about shoreline bluff erosion, staff contact information is available on the conservation authority websites at and

Shoreline Conditions Statements and Flood Messages

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) issues Shoreline Conditions Statements, to local municipalities, when warranted, for example, when weather forecasts over Lake Huron suggest a potential for high waves reaching the shoreline and resulting in potential coastal flooding and erosion issues. These messages, in addition to flood messages, are also posted on the website at this link:

The Shoreline Conditions Statements are also posted on Ausable Bayfield Conservation's social media channels (Facebook and Twitter):