Nipigon Bay: Area of Concern
The contributions of federal, provincial and local agencies, local industries, and others have had a positive impact on restoring water quality and ecosystem health within the Nipigon Bay Area of Concern (AOC). All remedial actions have been completed, and all beneficial uses have been restored. Nipigon Bay is now being proposed for removal from the list of Great Lakes AOCs.
Why was it listed as an Area of Concern?
Nipigon Bay was designated as an AOC because a review of available data indicated that water quality and environmental health were severely degraded. This degradation was due to industrial and municipal effluent discharges from local mills and municipal sewage treatment plants; effects of hydro-electric development along the Nipigon River on water levels and flows in Lake Nipigon and the Nipigon River; and accumulation of wood fibre and bark from logs resulting from previous timber harvest practices, such as log driving. These factors led to impairments in water quality, fish populations and fish habitat.
What has been accomplished?
Major improvements in water quality have been achieved as a result of the implementation of federal and provincial pulp and paper regulations in the mid-1990s. In response to these regulatory requirements, and in an effort to reduce environmental impairments, local mills and treatment plants underwent significant upgrades. The Townships of Nipigon’s water pollution control plant and the Red Rock Mill have both implemented secondary treatment, which has significantly reduced pollutant discharges. The Township of Red Rock is also upgrading its water pollution control plant to secondary treatment, to be completed in 2018.
To enhance fish populations and habitat natural configuration and created additional spawning, nursery and feeding habitat, a number of actions were undertaken, including: a multi-year fish stocking program; changing the operations of hydro-electric dams to more closely resemble natural flow conditions for the river; cleaning up historic spawning grounds in the lower Nipigon River and restoring former wetlands by removing logs, debris and wood pilings; rehabilitating Clearwater Creek that flows through the Town of Nipigon to restore a severely degraded brook trout habitat; creating fish habitat at the Town of Red Rock’s marina via bioengineering that features armour stone breakwalls that provide both public access and fish and wildlife habitat, and restoring the natural configuration of Kama Creek to create additional fish spawning, nursery and feeding habitat - particularly for coaster brook trout.
What is left to do?
With the completion of the remedial actions identified for the AOC, and all afflicted beneficial uses restored in accordance with the delisting criteria established for the Remedial Action Plan, Nipigon Bay is being proposed for removal from the list of Great Lakes AOCs.
Following the completion of consultations on delisting, Environment and Climate Change Canada will issue a decision to the Department of Global Affairs confirming delisting of the Nipigon Bay AOC. The Department of Global Affairs will in turn inform the U.S. Department of State and the International Joint Commission that the Nipigon Bay AOC has been delisted.
Where can you find more information?
- Nipigon Bay AOC Remedial Action Plan Completion Report (June 2016) on InfoSuperior
- Great Lakes Sustainability Fund - Restoration Project Profiles
- Keeping the Great Lakes Great
Efforts in Nipigon Bay were undertaken in a partnership between the Government of Canada, other levels of government and non-government groups, including members of the public.
Undertaking the environmental restoration in Nipigon Bay required a large amount of scientific and technical expertise, local knowledge and hard work. Success was the result of several agencies and local partners working together.
Listed below are participants that have contributed to efforts in Nipigon Bay:
- Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change
- Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
- Lakehead University
- Environment and Climate Change Canada
- Red Rock Indian Band
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada
- Parks Canada
- Public Advisory Committee
- Town of Nipigon
- Town of Red Rock
- EcoSuperior Environmental Programs
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