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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 Nutrient Management Concern over proper nutrient management in the Lake Erie North Shore watershed was expressed by participants at a public open house and 2 public workshops in the spring and fall of 2008. Concerns over nutrient management were also identified in the NWS (RMN 2006a) and in the Land Management and Agricultural Best Management Practices survey (NPCA 2006a) distributed to agricultural land owners. Nutrients derived from manure and chemical fertilizers are necessary for farm production. However, the improper use of nutrients can result in soil-nutrient imbalances and it can impair water quality locally and downstream of a farm. In order to maintain soil and water quality, in 2002 the Ontario government introduced the Nutrient Management Act (OMAFRA and OMOE). As of September 2003, new livestock farms that are over 5 Nutrient Units (NU) and existing livestock farms expanding to 300 NU or more are required to complete a nutrient management strategy (NMS) that includes information on its operation, how much nutrient is produced, how it will be stored, an analysis of its nutrient content, and where it will be used. A Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) must be completed for agricultural operations that apply nutrients to the land. The NMP includes information about the farm and its fields, an analysis of the nutrients to be applied, how much will be applied and at what rate, and how the nutrients will be stored (OMAFRA and OMOE 2003). The purpose of proper nutrient management is to protect surface and ground water from contamination. Beach Postings Concern over the number of beach postings was expressed by participants at a public open house and 2 public workshops during the spring and fall of 2008. Beach postings due to microbial and visible contamination were also identified as an issue in the NWS. Bacterial contamination at public beaches is a major health concern which results in beach closures. Therefore, as previously described, the RMN is undertaking a Beach Posting Study in addition to weekly water quality sampling that is conducted at 22 public beaches along Lake Erie from June to the end of August. The objectives of the study are to identify beaches that are frequently affected by poor water quality which results in beach postings; recommend mitigation measures to remediate the poor water quality; and recommend a long-term annual program that examines priority beaches in further detail (RMN 2007c). Several sources are known contributors to poor near-shore water quality, including for example, faulty septic systems and stormwater runoff and combined sewer overflows; there are 9 CSO‟s in Port Colborne and a total of 12 storm outfalls in the Lake Erie North Shore Watershed. Therefore it is necessary to examine and evaluate the issues and challenges that are associated with the near-shore water pollution in order to determine appropriate 104

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN mitigation measures to improve the water quality, thus reducing the number of beach closures. Urban Development Future expansion of Port Colborne has been identified as a concern in the NWS (RMN 2006a), in terms of affecting natural areas. In addition, this issue was also identified as a serious concern by the members of the agricultural community that participated in the Land Management and Agricultural Best Management Practices survey (NPCA 2006a). Survey participants were very concerned about the loss of agricultural land and the loss of natural areas to urban development. As previously noted, the portion of Port Colborne that falls within the Lake Erie North Shore Watershed Plan study area falls within the Onondaga Hydrogeologically Sensitive Area. As indicated, this area is susceptible to groundwater contamination due to the thin overburden and shallow bedrock of the area. Therefore, further development in this area could potentially have an adverse impact on groundwater quality. However, a portion of this area falls within an Intake Protection Zone, and under the Clean Water Act, vulnerable groundwater areas that fall within an Intake Protection Zone will be protected under the Source Protection Plan. Background studies conducted for the Region‟s Growth Management Strategy indicate that the City of Port Colborne has “an ample supply of serviced (or serviceable) designated residential and non-residential land to accommodate growth to 2031 and beyond” (Dillon 2008). Accordingly, it is the intent of the City of Port Colborne to promote intensification of future development within the urban area boundary and protect and support the rural and farm related operations, as indicated in the Draft New Official Plan for the City of Port Colborne (City of Port Colborne 2006). In addition, the Region of Niagara also outlines numerous strategies in the Policy Plan that provide for the wise use of Niagara‟s agricultural resources. Such policies include for example, the protection of unique and good general agriculture; financial support to local agricultural groups; and not permitting non-agricultural uses in agricultural areas (Section 6). Urban Storm Water Management A lack of stormwater management facilities to treat urban runoff in Port Colborne has been identified as a key issue in the NWS (RMN 2006a). Twelve storm outfalls have been identified in the Lake Erie North Shore watershed; 2 in LMA 3.2 and 10 in LMA 3.3. During a rain event in an urban or developed area, stormwater remains on the surface collecting contaminants instead of seeping into the ground as it would in a natural system. As a result, stormwater accumulates and runs off in great amounts, creating the potential for flooding and erosion (Pollution Probe 2004). Several strategies can be implemented to achieve stormwater management that aims to reduce stormwater runoff such as for example, storing excess water on or near the site, and releasing it slowly over a long period of time. It is the intent of the City of Port Colborne in the Draft New Official Plan for the City of Port Colborne (City of Port Colborne 2006) to manage stormwater on-site to reduce impacts on surrounding properties. 105

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