The Watershed

The McIntosh Run river flows within the Halifax Regional Municipality on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. About 13 kilometers in length, the Run’s headwaters are tributaries to Long Lake. The McIntosh Run flows through the community of Spryfield and into the area known as the “Backlands” where it connects East Pine Island Pond, West Pine Island Pond, Long Pond, and Powers Pond along with other smaller pools and wetlands. The McIntosh Run then drains into the Atlantic Ocean through Herring Cove. Human-built diversions and pipes that connect Long Lake to Spruce Lake and other lakes in the Chain of Lakes System, have effectively increased the area of the McIntosh Run watershed from it’s natural topographic boundaries (the natural boundaries are shown in red on the attached photo).

The watershed area, about 37 square kilometers, is a mix of natural vegetation (mostly spruce-pine-fir forest, granite barrens, wetlands and lakes) and residential and retail development.  About half of the lands are private and half are provincial Crown lands, the latter most notably Long Lake Provincial Park and large parcels in the Backlands.

The natural boundaries of the McIntosh Run watershed (in red), as defined by topography. There is passive artificial drainage from a larger area, extending to the north of Long Lake, owing to damnng of Spruce Hill Lake and a regulated pipe that runs to Long Lake.

About 30,000 people live in the watershed. Population has grown significantly in recent decades and continues to do so, with residential developments adjoining Long Lake, abutting Spryfield, and along Herring Cove Road. This has and continues to impose changes on the Run and it’s natural functions, though changes in water discharge, past effluent contamination, and habitat alteration.