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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 Seven of the eight field sites are within a designated municipal drain (three in Furry Drain, one in Chalmers Dickout Drain, and three in Little Marsh Drain). Bank instability and relatively deep unconsolidated sediment deposited along the channel bed was noted at a number of field sites. The possibility of rills/gullies present at almost all of the field sites indicates the potential for additional sediment entering the watercourse. Rill prevention measures such as slope re-grading, erosion control blankets, and seeding should be implemented along the adjacent property. Excessive sediment deposition can cause problems in the watercourse, such as lateral channel adjustments, increased turbidity, filling in of pools, and impacting fish habitat. Long term monitoring of sediment accumulation should be completed to avoid any potential problems and this can be done by the use of sediment traps. Six of the eight field sites are moderately entrenched, which means that flood waters will have little to no access to the floodplain. Confining the flood waters to the channel results in the loss of the adjacent floodplain, which impacts the hydraulic function of the watercourse (floodplains are storage areas for flood waters) and the physical habitat (loss of floodplain vegetation and the organisms that live there). It will also change the channel geometry overtime due to increased velocity, stream power, and channel slope. Increasing the variety and diversity of native plant species within small buffer zones will provide cover and habitat for fish, insects, and invertebrate along the watercourse. All recommendations should be discussed with the Drainage Superintendent. Naturalizing Drains and Drain Best Management Practices Promote Good Shoreline Stewardship Blue Flag Beach Program Ecological Linkages between Natural Areas Riparian Buffer Education and Grant Program Wetlands are Worth It Program 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 can potentially lengthen the time between maintenance events by reducing the amount of sediment entering and remaining in the drain. Best Management Practices for drain maintenance should be developed in consultation with, but not limited to, the following agencies; OMAFRA, DFO, MNR, Conservation Ontario, OFA, DSAO, CFFO, and the agricultural community to reduce ecological impacts to aquatic systems and to prevent sediment from returning to the drain. Any future maintenance of this watercourse should be done in accordance with Best Management Practices for drains. To review examples of current BMP mitigation measures, refer to Appendix I. Work with partnering stakeholders to promote shoreline areas that have been maintained naturally or restored to find a balance between natural processes and shoreline protection measures. Work with partnering agencies to mitigate water quality issues and work towards Blue Flag Beach status. Blue Flag status meets high standards with respect to water quality, environmental management, environmental education and safety and services (Blueflag.ca) and is known globally. Blue Flag beaches have the potential to increase tourism in the area. Opportunity potential is present for creating ecological linkages between natural areas creating larger contiguous natural features. Such areas have the potential to enhance movement of flora and fauna between natural areas as well as provide habitat and ecological diversity for a wide range of species. Many landowners keep their properties manicured or plant crops to the edge of the creek. The NPCA‟s program aimed at educating landowners about the benefits of buffer zones along watercourses should be extensively promoted. In addition, landowners should be made aware of and encouraged to participate in the NPCA‟s Water Quality Improvement Program. This program provides grants to a maximum of 75% of the cost of a project with caps between $2,000 and $10,000. Wetlands provide important water quality and ecological functions in a watershed by augmenting low flow, acting as natural filtration systems and helping to reduce flooding by acting like giant sponges and absorbing excess 134

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN Agricultural Best Management Practices Program Abandoned Well Decommissioning Program Special Studies Riparian Buffer Tax Incentive Program Septic System Education and Funding Program Septic System Re- Inspection Program Road Salt Impact Study Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM) Program Subwatershed Hydrogeologic water. The Wetlands are Worth It Program through NPCA‟s Water Quality Improvement Program aims to assist landowners that are interested in restoring, protecting, rehabilitating and creating wetland habitat on their property by providing grants to a maximum of 75% of the cost of a project with a grant ceiling of $10,000. The NPCA‟s program aimed at educating landowners about the benefits of rural and agricultural best management practices should be extensively promoted. In addition, landowners should be made aware of and encouraged to participate in the Conservation Authority‟s Water Quality Improvement Program. This program provides grants to a maximum 75% of the cost of a project with caps between $5,000 and $12,000 depending on the project. Abandoned wells that are not properly decommissioned (capped and sealed) pose a threat to groundwater resources by providing a direct route to groundwater. The NPCA has a well decommissioning program in place for its jurisdiction. Grants are available for the decommissioning of unused water wells only. Priority is given to hydrogeologically sensitive areas, projects located in areas with a high density of domestic water wells, and areas where watershed plans have been completed or are ongoing (NPCA 2007). Approved grants will cover 90% of well decommissioning costs to a maximum of $2,000 per well (limit of 2 wells per property). This is a reimbursement program, which means that the landowner will pay the full cost to the contractor, and will be reimbursed for 90% of the total project cost after all receipts, invoices, and water well decommissioning records are submitted to the NPCA. Recommendations for Further Study Partial exemption on property taxes for the establishment and maintenance of effective riparian and conservation buffers on property. Buffers provide a wide range of functions and benefits depending on their location (e.g. adjacent to watercourse or separating land uses). Improperly functioning septic systems and abandoned septic systems are a known threat to water quality. A septic system education and funding program should be developed and implemented to ensure that private septic systems are functioning properly, and to ensure that abandoned systems are decommissioned. Faulty or improperly maintained septic systems have been identified as a concern by participants at public events for the study area. Therefore, areas along the lakeshore that have a high intrinsic susceptibility should be considered priority for such a program. Municipal councils could approve and endorse the allocation of funds from property taxes or general revenue to fund the program. This approach may be facilitated with council knowledge that a percentage of inspected septic systems will also require remedial action on the part of some property owners, including the installation of new septic systems. Owners may also pro-actively undertake action if they are aware that a program is underway. Both will affect the number of permits issued in a municipality, and may generate revenue as a result (MMAH 2001). The Lowbanks subwatershed has been identified as having a medium and high shallow intrinsic susceptibility to groundwater contamination due to the presence of permeable soils and shallow depth of the groundwater table. A Road Salt Management Plan would be beneficial to Haldimand to determine the impacts from road salt applications on sensitive areas, surface water features, natural heritage areas, and agricultural crops. Implement an IRVM program for Haldimand County. IRVM integrates the use of native vegetation with appropriate management techniques to produce a cost-effective, environmentally sound management alternative for roadside weed and erosion control while providing numerous ecological benefits (e.g. buffer strips). Development of subwatershed scale hydrogeologic characterizations would provide optimal information to make informed decisions in regard to applications and for use in planning decisions and policy development. 135

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