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Natalie Green, Project Manager – (Clean up Niagara River)
January 8, 2019 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Our guest speaker this month was Natalie Green, the project manager for the Niagara River Remedial Action Plan.
Natalie, who admitted to having a passion about the Great Lakes and the Niagara River, said the river has a long history of pollution problems going back to the 1880’s because it was the first river to be heavily harnessed for power.
In the early part of the 20th century, the Niagara River, the 58 kilometre connecting channel between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, was one of the most de-graded places in North America. The first Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement was signed by the United States and Canada in 1972 and was revised in 1978, 1987 and 2012.
In 1987 the Niagara River was identified as one of the 43 Great Lakes’ Areas of Concern. A Remedial Action Plan was developed for each Area of Concern. Although the river is listed as a binational area, Natalie pointed out that each side of the border has its own action plan.
The Remedial Action Plan is a community-based partnership to restore and protect water quality. The project is funded by the federal and provincial governments in partnership with the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.
Natalie said that all areas of concern use 14 indicators to measure, what is called beneficial use impairment or BUI, to determine the health of the Niagara River. These indicators include such things as restrictions on fish and wildlife consumption, degradation of fish populations, the condition of sediment-dwelling insects, the presence of algae, beach closings and restrictions on drinking water.
She indicated that current monitoring indicates that there may still be contaminant issues in the area of Lyons Creek.
She said that one of the main challenges remaining along the river is the loss of coastline wet-land habitat to encourage fish populations along the upper river. In a move to reverse this loss, ash trees and old Christmas trees have been placed along the shoreline to create wetland areas where fish can lay their eggs.
On-going studies and monitoring programs play a big role in helping eliminate remaining areas of concern.
Much more information is available at the web-site: www.ourniagarariver.ca