Reducing runoff to improve water quality and protect habitat: Welland River

Welland River. Photo: © Environment and Climate Change Canada.

2012-2013 Funding: $835,369 total, including $245,000 provided by the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund

Other Project Contributors: private landowners, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, the Regional Municipality of Niagara, the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Agricultural Producers Group, Landcare Niagara, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Ontario Power Generation, and the Association of Canadian Educators.

Owners of two greenhouse operations in the Niagara Area of Concern are participating in a wide-ranging campaign to reduce runoff from their property and improve water quality in the Welland River, with the support of the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund.

The Water Quality and Habitat Improvement Project, part of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority’s ongoing watershed stewardship program, is seeking to reduce runoff of phosphorus, sediments and manure from a range of agricultural operations. These discharges contribute to declines in water quality and fish and wildlife habitat in the Niagara River Area of Concern. Most of the runoff from rural areas is concentrated in the Welland River watershed, which makes up about 80% of the Canadian Section of the Niagara River Area of Concern.

In 2012, 14 initiatives were undertaken on 11 properties in the watershed. Working with owners committed to improving the environmental impact of their operations, project partners targeted 3 creeks that have been identified as high priorities for reducing phosphorus runoff. Initiatives included:

  • planting trees and other vegetation along nearly one kilometre of creek banks to act as a buffer for runoff;
  • restoring about four hectares of small wetlands; and
  • helping to build two manure waste storage facilities to enclose the manure and prevent it from entering the creeks during heavy rains.

Project partners also engaged owners of two greenhouses and worked with them to introduce wastewater diversion and water conservation projects within their greenhouse operations. These efforts will help reduce runoff of fertilizer- based phosphorus.

Finally, ongoing monitoring of the water quality of the Welland River and other tributaries entering the Niagara River is allowing project partners to measure progress and target future priority areas for reducing runoff.

Consult the following external web site for more information on the Niagara River Area of Concern.

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