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Lake Erie North Shore Watershed Plan - Niagara Peninsula ...

Lake Erie North Shore Watershed Plan - Niagara Peninsula ...

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN ground in the drainage field. Problems with septic tanks often stem from improper use and maintenance. Faulty septic systems can create serious local contamination problems with the potential to contaminate groundwater wells (Pollution Probe 2004). Faulty or improperly maintained septic systems have been reported as a concern by participants of a public workshop in November 2008. In addition, the Groundwater Study (WHI 2005) in consultation with the Region of Niagara Health Department identified areas where septic systems have been reported to cause problems with the quality of groundwater (Figure 14). In the Lake Erie North Shore Watershed, septic system „hot spots‟ include the Onondaga Hydrogeologically Sensitive Area, where the overburden overlying the bedrock is too thin to sufficiently treat the septic tank effluent (WHI 2005). It is evident that aging and faulty septic systems contribute to poor water quality by discharging partly or untreated sewage effluent into subsurface and surface drainage pathways (NPCA 2010). Wainfleet Like much of the area along the Lake Erie shoreline, municipal water and wastewater infrastructure does not exist in the Township of Wainfleet. Currently, most of Wainfleet is serviced by on-site water wells, aside from the Long Beach area which utilizes a communal water supply, and sewage disposal for the Town of Wainfleet is serviced by individual on-site septic systems (MacViro Consultants 2002). Since April 10 2006, the area of Wainfleet south of the former rail line to Lake Erie has been under a Boil Water Advisory after studies conducted by Niagara Region‟s Public Health and Public Works departments and Ministry of the Environment identified a significant health concern as a result of the groundwater contamination: “Environmental and potential health problems associated with the failure and malfunctioning of the existing private septic tank systems in the Lakeshore Communities in some cases include raw sewage in roadside ditches, odours associated with these sewage discharges and on-site ponding from tile field breakouts” (Earth Tech 2005a). In an effort to address the issue, a Class Environmental Assessment (EA) was initiated by the Township of Wainfleet and Region of Niagara. The Class EA planning process includes public and review agency consultation, an evaluation of alternatives, assessment of the impacts of proposed improvements, and mitigation measures identified. As a result of the Environmental Assessment, the preferred alternative for providing the Wainfleet area with a potable water source is to establish a network of piping and use the Water Treatment Plant in Port Colborne as a water source. The preferred option in terms of wastewater servicing is the establishment of gravity sewer systems with pumping stations. The collected sewage flows would be discharged to the trunk sewer system in Port Colborne and treatment would occur at the Seaway Waste Water Treatment Plant (Earth Tech 2005b) The Minister of the Environment endorsed the preferred alternative to build municipal water and wastewater central systems, and cited a number of conditions that must be met prior to construction (MOE 2006c). At the request of the Township of Wainfleet, Region of Niagara is acting on behalf of the municipality as project manager for the Lakeshore Water and Wastewater servicing project. Numerous studies are currently 102

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN being carried out as required by the MOE and are available for public commenting as distributed by Region of Niagara. The studies are as follows: Archaeological Impact Assessment, Natural Resources Impact Assessment, Socio-Economic Impact Assessment Study, preliminary Engineering Design, and a Financial Analysis (RMN No Date). Road Salt Originating from salt storage and snow disposal sites as well as from runoff, road salts are an environmental concern because they are known to have an adverse effect on freshwater ecosystems, soil, vegetation and wildlife (EC 2004a). In April 2004, Environment Canada produced a Code of Practice for the Environmental Management of Road Salts. The Code of Practice recommends that all road authorities prepare and implement salt management plans that incorporate the implementation of best management practices (BMP) for salt application, salt storage and handling, and snow disposal. The benefits of improved salt management include: a reduction in corrosive damage to salt application equipment, vehicles, and infrastructure such as concrete sidewalks and steps; a reduction in salt damage to vegetation and surrounding roads and walkways; reduced salt releases to surrounding waterways; and an overall, more efficient and effective service resulting in safer roads and sidewalks for users (EC 2004b). In 2005, the Regional Municipality of Niagara undertook a Salt Vulnerability Study (Ecoplans Ltd), which identified vulnerable areas from road salt for land use, surface water groundwater, and natural areas. The relatively flat topography of Lake Erie North Shore watershed results in a high to moderate vulnerability to surface run off, therefore the entire study area has been ranked as moderately high for surface water, wetland and fish habitat vulnerability from road salt. Land use vulnerability outside of the wetland areas has been ranked with a predominantly moderate to moderately low vulnerability. Groundwater vulnerability along the shoreline is high, with inland vulnerability ranging from moderately high to moderately low. It is important to note that the Regional Niagara Salt Vulnerability Study only assessed risk for Regional roads. Municipal roads should also be assessed to better identify salt vulnerable areas in the watershed. In Haldimand County, where a road salt study has not yet been prepared, a Salt Management Plan is being prepared for the assessment of environmentally sensitive areas and procedures to assist and control the environmental effects of road salts (N. Mahmood Personal Communication). 103

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