Davidson Lake is a shallow proglacial lake that was formed during the retreat (melting) of the Wisconsinan ice sheet during the last ice age, approximately 10,000 years ago. Since that time, the lake level has been controlled by a series of beaver dams that have been historically constructed along the outlet at the southwestern side of the lake, which drains towards the Pokiok backwater.

Development at the lake began in the 1950’s. It is critically important to understand that the development of Davidson Lake took place with the beaver dams in place. Had the dams not been there, the lake would have been much too shallow and swampy for successful development. There are countless examples of shallow, backwater “swampy” lakes in the province that have never been developed for exactly this reason. Unfortunately, in 2017, a small contingent of misguided lake residents took it upon themselves to destroy the beaver dams and trap and kill the beavers in the outlet system. This was an illegal and very destructive act that caused dangerously low lake levels. The danger of such low water levels in the lake is that these conditions cause elevated temperatures, greatly increasing the potential for toxic algae blooms (blue green algae being the most dangerous) and water born bacteria to develop. If these conditions do develop, the ecosystem will be irreparably damaged.

Given the already shallow nature of Davidson Lake, a real outcome of this could be complete condemnation of the lake for recreational activities (swimming, boating etc). This would affect all lake residents as these blooms are highly invasive and would spread rapidly in such a shallow lake environment. Thanks to swift action at that time by the Davidson Lake Association, a leveling structure was installed to try and protect against these dangerously low levels. It took a couple of years and many discussions with the Regulatory authorities (NBEnv, DFO), but thanks to these measures the lake level was eventually restored and the crisis was averted.

Last year, 2023, beavers have finally reestablished a dam in the outlet. The reconstructed dam was at an elevation approximately 10 inches above that of the leveling structure. Coupled with intense rain in June and July, this caused the lake level to be temporarily higher than in recent years. Sadly, once again a few misinformed residents took it upon themselves to destroy the dam. This, once again, left us in a very troubling situation with the health and future of our lake in serious jeopardy. This concern is exacerbated by our rapidly changing climate leading to unprecedented high temperatures and intense rainfall (which contributes additional sediment loading to the lake).

I fully understand the concerns that some have expressed over the years regarding “loss of waterfrontage” caused by higher than normal lake levels. I also understand that at various points in the past, the lake may have been lower due to natural variations in beaver activity (these dams are not static but change over time as dams are repaired and reconstructed) as well as annual variation in rainfall. Everyone has a different preference based on their own situation. Those with deeper water may want lower levels to gain waterfrontage. Those in shallower parts of the lake would like the water higher. We need to compromise and perhaps accept that what is best for the health of the lake may not be perfect for our own situation. I would encourage those that seem to be pushing for “as low as possible” to educate themselves on the far greater threat that shallow, warm lake conditions will inevitably bring. There are many resources out there that can help provide this information to anyone willing to invest the time. I commend the Association for their continued efforts to protect our lake, even in light of these frustrating setbacks. I would encourage anyone with information on who is carrying out these illegal acts and placing our lake is such a precarious situation to reach out to the authorities (DNR, NBEnv, DFO) with the information


Simon Dickinson, Ph.D., P.Eng., FEC

From the Davidson Lake Association:

There are several websites that can be useful to help navigate the science behind water levels as well as a lot of information related to climate change and its overall result on our bodies of water.  If there is anyone that has questions or concerns, please reach out to us davidsonlakenb@gmail.com , join one of our committees, attend our AGM, or reach out to the New Brunswick Alliance of Lakes Association, with whom we are a proud member.  We will continue to test and monitor the lake water throughout the summer months to keep an eye on the health of the lake and sincerely appreciate your efforts to help us do so.

Megan Wilkins, P.Eng, MBA

President, Davidson Lake Association