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Niagara River Remedial Action Plan Stage 2 Update Report

Niagara River Remedial Action Plan Stage 2 Update Report

Area of Concern means a

Area of Concern means a geographic area that fails to meet the General or Specific Objectives of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement where such failure has caused or is likely to cause impairment of beneficial use or of the area’s ability to support aquatic life. 3 Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI) is the inability of an Area of Concern to support aquatic life or other beneficial uses for humans and wildlife (e.g., swimming, fishing, drinking water, ecological health, fish and wildlife habitat.) The IJC has identified fourteen beneficial uses to use as criteria for designating AOCs. 1. Restrictions on Fish and Wildlife Consumption 2. Tainting of Fish and Wildlife Flavour 3. Degraded Fish and Wildlife Populations 4. Fish Tumours or Other Deformities 5. Bird or Animal Deformities or Reproduction Problems 6. Degradation of Benthos 7. Restrictions on Dredging Activities 8. Eutrophication or Undesirable Algae 9. Restrictions on Drinking Water Consumption, or Taste and Odour Problems 10. Beach Closings 11. Degradation of Aesthetics 12. Added Costs to Agriculture or Industry 13. Degradation of Phytoplankton and Zooplankton Populations 14. Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat 1.1 Description of the Area of Concern (AOC) The Niagara River (Ontario) AOC lies within the Great Lakes basin and extends from Fort Erie (Lake Erie) to Niagara-on-the-Lake (Lake Ontario). It includes several small tributaries to the Upper Niagara River and the Welland River watershed (as shown in Figure 2). The Welland River watershed encompasses 81% of the Niagara River AOC; however, the river contributes less than 0.1% of the Niagara River’s total flow. The Niagara River has an annual average flow rate of 5,700 cubic metres per second and flows approximately 58 kilometres (or 36 miles) in a south to north direction. This flow accounts for 83% of the water flowing into Lake Ontario and significantly influences Lake Ontario’s water quality and fish productivity. Velocity and flow in the river itself are regulated by a control structure above Niagara Falls, operated primarily to divert water for hydro-electric generation purposes (discussed further in Section 1.2.1). Flow over the falls at Niagara and through the power plants is governed by the 1953 Niagara River Treaty 1 . The Niagara River has many uses. These include a source of drinking water, fish and wildlife habitat, recreational activities, and power generation. It also provides employment to millions of people. 2 The river is also: the source of water for many industries and the receiver of their effluents; a receiver of the treated effluents of a number of municipalities that line both shores; a source of potable water for the City of Niagara Falls. Finally, both the Niagara and Welland Rivers are the receiving waters for stormwater discharges and combined sewer overflows from the older portions of urban areas within the AOC. A brief history of pollution problems in the Niagara River AOC is provided in Appendix 4 - A Brief History of Pollution in the Niagara River and RAP Highlights. The Niagara River, while providing a connecting channel, also presents a physical barrier (i.e., the falls) to navigation between the two lower Great Lakes. Consequently, a canal and series of locks were constructed around the Niagara Falls. The Welland Ship Canal is the current route by-passing the Niagara River and represents a second interconnecting channel between Lakes Erie and Ontario. It is used by both recreational and commercial vessels including ocean-going ships. 3 Revised Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978 1 Niagara River Remedial Action Plan. 1993. Stage 1: Environmental Conditions and Problem Definition. 2 Niagara River Toxics Management Plan (NRTMP). September 2005. Progress Report and Work Plan. 2

Niagara river remedial action plan stage 2 update Figure 4: Map of the Niagara River (Ontario) AOC 3

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