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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 by the landowner. Measurements taken at channel cross sections would indicate that the watercourse at this field site is moderately entrenched which results in flood waters having limited to no access to the floodplain. Therefore, the energy within the flow is contained in the channel. Recommendations for this site include not grading the channel banks too steep during the dredging process so that deep rooted vegetation can become established along the banks and stabilize the soil. Water quality testing should continue to be monitored in this watershed to determine any water quality issues. Monitoring the accumulation of sediment along the channel bed can be done by the use of sediment traps throughout the watercourse. Proper bank protection measures should be installed along the right bank to ensure adequate stabilization. All recommendations should be discussed with the Drainage Superintendent. Four of the five sites are within the designated municipal drain Eagle Marsh Drain and the fifth site is within the Bessey Branch Drain. Some bank instability is present and relatively deep unconsolidated sediment deposited along the stream bed has been identified. Excessive sediment deposition can cause problems in the watercourse, such as lateral channel adjustments, increased turbidity, filling in of pools, and impacting fish habitat. Water quality should continue to be monitored in this watershed. Increasing the size of small buffer zones would help to prevent bank erosion, provide habitat and cover, control the amount of sediment entering the channel, and also filter any pollutant that may enter the stream by runoff. If it is possible to replace the steel and concrete revetments at the outlet with soil bio-engineering structures then this would provide more habitat and shading along the watercourse. Alternatives to traditional drainage design, such as wetland creation, floodplain development, and increasing channel curvature should also be considered. All recommendations should be discussed with the Drainage Superintendent. Naturalizing Drains and Drain Best Management Practices Promote Good Shoreline Stewardship Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM) Program Ecological Linkages between Natural Areas Riparian Buffer Education 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 that have been maintained naturally or restored to find a balance between natural processes and shoreline protection measures. Niagara Region and municipalities should work together to expand Niagara Region‟s IRVM Program. 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). Focus of program expansion should be directed to main roads and roads in areas with a high shallow intrinsic susceptibility. 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 182

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN 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 CSO Management Plan Road Salt Impact Study 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). The City of Port Colborne has initiated an Extraneous Flow Reduction Pilot Program for a portion of the City of Port Colborne. Expanding this program to the entire urban area of Port Colborne would greatly benefit water quality by eliminating any unnecessary infiltration of storm water to the sanitary sewers potentially creating Combined Sewers Overflows which results in the discharge of sanitary waste into nearby watercourses and waterbodies. Through RMN‟s Salt Vulnerability Study (2005) the entire LENS study area has been ranked as having a 183

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