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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 The NPCA and RMN have developed policies that provide for a long-term plan for the safe and effective management of runoff in urban and urbanizing areas, while sustaining the health of local rivers and stream (AECOM 2010). The report entitled „Stormwater Management Policies and Guidelines‟ provides a consist approach to stormwater management for all municipalities in Niagara Region. Examples of stormwater best management practices are listed in Appendix B. Combined Sewer Overflows Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO) have also been identified as a key issue in the Lake Erie North Shore watershed through the NWS (RMN 2006a). Nine CSO‟s and a pumping station have been identified in the study area. A combined sewer is designed to collect stormwater runoff and wastewater (sewage and used water) and transport it to the treatment plant. However, during heavy rain events or snow melts the wastewater in the sewer may reach capacity of the sewer system or possibly the treatment plant. When this occurs, the sewer system overflows and discharges the excess wastewater in to the nearby watercourse or waterbody. The overflows which contain sewage and stormwater are called Combined Sewer Overflows, and have been identified as a key issue in the Lake Erie North Shore watershed. The Region of Niagara recognizes the significant environmental impact of CSO‟s and sewage treatment bypasses and accordingly has made the elimination of these a Regional priority [Policy 7.A.2.5 (RMN 2007a)]. In addition, it is the intent of the City of Port Colborne to address this issue through the Draft New Official Plan (City of Port Colborne 2006), which states “Combined storm and sanitary sewers are not permitted and the City will endeavor to separate combined storm and sanitary sewers” (Section II- C4b2). In 2009, the City of Port Colborne in conjunction with the Regional Municipality of Niagara initiated an Extraneous Flow Reduction Pilot Program for a portion of Port Colborne. The program involves the “inspection of private sanitary sewer services to assess their condition and the presence of any improper connections, followed by recommendations and City funded improvements to remove sources of rainwater from the sanitary sewer system” (City of Port Colborne 2009). Participation is mandatory for private landowners and should the inspection indicate that repairs are necessary, financial assistance is available through the new Sewer Use By-Law. According to Town of Fort Erie‟s Council approved Draft Official Plan (2009), improvements to existing sanitary sewer system and the reduction of extraneous flows are a priority of Council (Section 12.3). Ballast Water Regulations Ballast water is carried in the ballast of the ship or cargo tank to assist in the stability, list, stress or draught of the ship. However, when ballast water is discharged in the lake water, harmful pathogens and invasive aquatic species may be introduced, potentially threatening the health of the aquatic ecosystem. Non-native species do not have natural competitors outside of their native habitats; therefore they pose a threat by outcompeting native species for food and habitat. In 2006, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities announced Ballast Water Control and Management Regulations. The previous voluntary, now mandatory 106

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN measures, include best management practices that must be followed when a ship does not travel beyond 200 miles from shore or cannot exchange ballast water in mid-ocean due to safety issues such as weather. Best management practices include either treating the ballast water, not discharging the water, or exchanging the ballast water in an alternate zone specified under the regulations which have been identified based on scientific advice provided by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Transport Canada 2006). However, more stringent measures are necessary to completely void the threat of invasive aquatic species. Filtering or heating ballast water or using an ultraviolet light could be options that may help alleviate the threat of non-native aquatic species from entering the Great Lakes. Municipal Drain Maintenance In addition to having an impact on aquatic and riparian habitat, drain maintenance has the potential to become quite costly through repeated maintenance activities. Naturalizing drains, especially through natural areas, is a recommendation that was made in the NWS (RMN 2006a). Naturalizing drains can potentially lengthen the time between maintenance events by reducing the amount of sediment entering the watercourse. Vegetating bare banks and maintaining a buffer strip; restricting cattle access; and allowing a slight meander to reduce bank erosion and flooding are a few measures that could potentially reduce the amount of sediment loading in the watercourse. In addition, when maintenance does occur several measures can be taken such as leaving the banks alone, working from one side of the drain and remove the vegetation at intervals. If a complete cleanout is necessary then ensure that the banks are not cut too steep as this will just make the banks more vulnerable to erosion. However, for a ditch or pipe to become a municipal drain there must be a bylaw adopting an engineer‟s report. Once the municipal drain has been constructed under the by-law, it becomes part of the infrastructure of the respective municipality. The local municipality is therefore responsible for repairing and maintaining the drain. Therefore, in order to implement alternative maintenance practices, the engineers report for the respective drain will need to be re-visited. Over 60 percent of the watercourses in the Lake Erie North Shore watershed are classified as municipal drains. Haldimand County began a 10 year drain maintenance cycle program; a full cleanout is not necessarily conducted every. The drains included in this cycle and their last year of maintenance is as follows; Little Marsh Drain (1998), and Furry Drain, Boulton Ditch, HE Dickout, and Chalmers Dickout (2007). 107

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