Canadian Remedial Action Plan Implementation Committee

Canadian Remedial Action Plan Implementation Committee open house in Walpole Island First Nation.

Photo: Clint Jacobs, Walpole Island First Nation.

Other Project Contributors: Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Binational Public Advisory Council, City of Sarnia, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Lambton County, Municipality of Chatham-Kent,Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Rural Lambton Stewardship Network, Sarnia-Lambton Environmental Association, St. Clair Region Conservation Authority, St. Clair Township, and Walpole Island First Nation.

Restored wetland and near shore habitat, improved water quality and community awareness - the partners addressing the long history of environmental degradation in the St. Clair River Area of Concern can point to significant progress in recent years, based on their shared commitment to cooperative planning and action.

The St. Clair River flows about 64 kilometres from the outflow of Lake Huron at the Blue Water Bridge south to Lake St. Clair. In the past, the river and its shoreline were impacted by intensive industrial and municipal development. The 1995 Remedial Action Plan identified 45 recommended actions to address the river’s environmental degradation.

The Canadian Remedial Action Plan Implementation Committee is tasked with planning and implementing measures to address these environmental challenges. Co-chaired by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the committee includes representatives from a broad range of government, First Nation and community interests concerned about the future of the St. Clair River.

The Great Lakes Action Plan provides core funding for research, monitoring, and restoration of the Great Lakes. Under that Plan, the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund provides funding to support restoration projects as well as coordination of the Committee.

Important progress has been made in addressing environmental challenges throughout the Area of Concern. Recent successes include:

  • restoring and protecting more than 250 hectares of wetland habitat, including a 70-hectare wetland within Walpole Island First Nation and an additional 85 hectares of coastal wetland habitat in Mitchell’s Bay;
  • naturalizing a 2000-metre stretch of the river’s shoreline by installing natural armour stone to enhance near-shore fish habitat;
  • completing several fish and wildlife research projects in collaboration with Walpole Island First Nation, to assess the status of fish and wildlife health within the Area of Concern; and,
  • reducing combined sewer overflow volumes from municipalities in the region by approximately 50 percent since 2000 through investments to upgrade treatment plants. 

Community engagement and outreach are key activities of the Implementation Committee. Committee partners work closely with a community group, Friends of the St. Clair River, to help share news on environmental cleanup initiatives, community events and progress reports. The Committee also has undertaken open houses in the community and in each First Nation community to seek comments regarding proposed remediation options on cleaning up contaminated sediment along the shoreline south of Sarnia. Future open houses are expected to focus on drinking water concerns.

For more information on the St. Clair Area of Concern, please visit: Friends of the St. Clair River.

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