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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 Naturalizing Drains and Drain Best Management Practices Blue Flag Beaches Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM) Program Ecological Linkages between Natural Areas Riparian Buffer Education Program Wetlands are Worth It Program Agricultural Best Management Practices Program Abandoned Well Decommissioning 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 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. 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 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 230

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN Special Studies Riparian Buffer Tax Incentive Program Septic System Education and Funding Program Septic System Re- Inspection Program Road Salt Impact Study Subwatershed Hydrogeologic Characterization Fish Habitat Classification Groundwater Intrinsic Susceptibility Studies Potential Contaminant Sources of Point Source Pollution Site Specific Water Quality Sampling 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). 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 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. The watercourses in this subwatershed have not 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 nearly the entire Bay Beach Area Drain 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. 231

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