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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 Riparian Buffer Education Program Wetlands are Worth It Program 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 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 Conservation Authority‟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 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. Areas that have been identified as „septic hotspots‟ through the NPCA Groundwater Study and areas 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). Through RMN‟s Salt Vulnerability Study (2005) the entire LENS study area has been ranked as having a moderately high vulnerability to road salt from regional roads, however this study was not conducted on local municipal roads; therefore it is recommended that a similar study be completed by the respective local municipalities to determine the impact of road salt applications on local municipal roads to the surrounding natural 174

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN Subwatershed Hydrogeologic Characterization Fish Habitat Classification Groundwater Intrinsic Susceptibility Studies Potential Contaminant Sources of Point Source Pollution Site Specific Water Quality Sampling features. 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. Not all the watercourses in this subwatershed have been evaluated in terms of importance for fish habitat. It is recommended that this assessment be completed so this information can be used for proper resource management and land use planning decisions. The Groundwater Study (2005) has identified the entire Lake Erie 3 subwatershed as having a high shallow intrinsic susceptibility (Figure 16a & 16b) The intrinsic susceptibility of groundwater considers only the physical factors affecting the flow of water to, and through, the groundwater resource. Additional studies should be conducted in this watershed to ensure that current and future land uses do not conflict with the protection of groundwater resources in susceptible areas as part of the NPCA‟s Groundwater Study (2005) and proposed Source Protection Plan. An inventory of potential contaminant sources and threats to water quality was identified as part of the objectives for the NPCA‟s Groundwater Study (2005). An updated inventory to confirm potential contaminant sources and locations is recommended as well as further investigation into the possible effects these potential contaminants may have on surface water quality and aquatic habitat and whether or not a contaminant management plan is needed. Enhanced sampling methods upstream and downstream of potential points of contamination should be considered to help identify priority areas for remediation and/or restoration. 175

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