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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 Generally, the WQI ratings obtained at Lake Erie tributary stations are higher than other parts of the NPCA watershed; however, it is important to note that these stations were recently added to the network in 2007. As such, the datasets for these stations are limited and these index ratings may change as additional data is collected (NPCA 2010). Biological Monitoring and Assessment Program Benthic macroinvertebrate sampling has been completed at surface water quality monitoring stations using the BioMAP (Biological Monitoring and Assessment Program) protocol (Griffiths 1999). Benthic macroinvertebrates are defined as the larger organisms inhabiting the substrate of waterways for at least part of their life cycle. Benthic macroinvertebrate species that are commonly found in the Niagara Peninsula include clams, snails, leeches, worms, and the larval stages of dragonflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, mayflies and beetles. For the analysis, the number and assortment of animals found at each site are used to calculate the biological metrics and indices for the biological assessment. These indices and metrics are used to convert biological data into a measure of water quality. This allows for the determination of water quality at a sample site and for cross comparison against other equivalent watercourses. Water quality results can then be classified as impaired or unimpaired. Unimpaired sites consist of animals that are susceptible to environmental pressures; in turn finding these animals in a water system implies the system has limited environmental stresses. Impaired sites consist mainly of organisms that are more tolerant to environmental stressors and typically do not include animals that are historically found. A grey-zone designation is for those sites which cannot be clearly defined as impaired or unimpaired BioMAP results indicate that water quality is impaired at most Lake Erie tributary stations (Table 8). Sediment loading, reduced baseflow, lack of in-stream habitat, and nutrient enrichment are primary causes of impairment at these stations. BioMAP samples have not been collected from station WW001 due to high water depth and access restrictions (NPCA 2010). Beach Postings Study Bacterial contamination at public beaches is a major health concern which results in beach closures. Therefore, in addition to weekly water quality sampling that is conducted at 22 public beaches along Lake Erie from June to the end of August, the Regional Municipality of Niagara is also undertaking a Beach Posting Study (RMN 2007c) at six public beaches along Lake Erie within the Lake Erie North Shore Watershed Plan study area. The beaches included in the study are Crystal Beach in Fort Erie, Lorraine Road and Nickel Beach in Port Colborne and Long Beach as well as the east and west beaches of the Long Beach Conservation Area in Wainfleet. The objectives of the study are to identify beaches that are frequently affected by poor water quality which results in beach closures; recommend mitigation measures to remediate the poor water quality; and recommend a long-term annual program that 90

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE WATERSHED PLAN examines priority beaches in further detail (RMN 2007c). Several sources are known contributors to poor near-shore water quality, including for example, stormwater runoff; combined sewer overflows; faulty septic systems; and fecal matter from large populations of waterfowl. Therefore it is necessary to examine and evaluate the issues and challenges that are associated with the near-shore water pollution in order to determine appropriate mitigation measures to improve the water quality, thus reducing the number of beach closures. Table 8: Summary of NPCA Water Quality Data for Lake Erie tributaries (2007-2009) Station Watershed WQI BioMAP Rating Rating Factors Affecting Water Quality BD001 Beaver Dam Drain Poor Impaired · Exceedances of copper, total phosphorus and E. coli · Frequent nickel exceedances · Nutrient enrichment from upstream urban and agricultural areas · Lack of riparian buffer CD001 Casey Drain Marginal Impaired · Exceedances of E. coli, total phosphorus and suspended solids · Nutrient enrichment from upstream urban and agricultural areas · Site is vulnerable to low baseflow and water stagnation · Algae observed during summer months · Lack of riparian buffer EM001 LB001 PA001 WD001 WW001 Eagle Marsh Drain Low Banks Drain Point Abino Drain Wignell Drain Wainfleet Wetlands Conservation Area Poor Impaired · Exceedances of chloride, E. coli, total phosphorus and suspended solids · Nutrient enrichment from upstream urban and agricultural areas · Site is influenced by groundwater discharge from upstream bedrock quarry Marginal Impaired · Exceedances of E. coli and total phosphorus · Nutrient enrichment from upstream urban and agricultural areas · Site is vulnerable to low baseflow and water stagnation · Severe algae growth observed during summer months · Lack of riparian buffer Fair Impaired · Exceedances of total phosphorus · Nutrient enrichment from upstream urban and agricultural areas · Site is influenced by backflow from Lake Erie Marginal Grey Zone · Exceedances of copper, E. coli and total phosphorus · Frequent nickel exceedances · Nutrient enrichment from upstream urban and agricultural areas · Site is influenced by groundwater discharge from upstream bedrock quarry Good n/a · Exceedances of total phosphorus · Nutrient enrichment from upstream urban and agricultural areas 91

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