Wheatley Harbour: Area of Concern (Delisted)

Wheatley Harbour was designated an Area of Concern (AOC) in 1987 under the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. Years of industrial pollution, primarily from fish and vegetable processing plants, as well as contamination from agricultural and wastewater sources led to degraded water quality and environmental health. Five out of 14 beneficial use impairments (BUIs) were identified, which measure the environmental, human health or economic impact of poor water quality. One additional beneficial use was deemed as “requiring further assessment”, meaning more information was required to determine whether they were impaired.


In 2010, Wheatley Harbour became the third Canadian AOC to be delisted. We delist an AOC when monitoring shows that targets for all BUIs have been met and environmental quality has been restored.

Monitoring confirmed that environmental quality was restored through:

  • upgrades to the local food processing and wastewater treatment plants to improve dissolved oxygen conditions needed to support aquatic life.
  • removal of active sources of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dredging of the inner harbor of existing PCBs, to remove it as a threat to fish and wildlife, and resulting in a more balanced and diverse fish community and a healthy population of snapping turtles
  • implementation of septic system and sanitary sewer upgrades, soil erosion protection, buffer strips, and a sediment control wetland project to reduce phosphorus concentrations in the harbour and improve bacterial water quality
  • habitat restoration, which increased naturalized land cover in Wheatley Harbour by 7%, and natural area coverage in the Muddy Creek watershed by 5.6%
  • changes to local policies to protect the Muddy Creek wetland 

Restoration of beneficial uses

All beneficial uses are no longer considered “impaired”. These included:

  • restrictions on fish consumption (2010)
  • degradation of fish and wildlife populations (2010)
  • restrictions on dredging activities (2010)
  • eutrophication or undesirable algae (2010)
  • loss of fish and wildlife habitat (2010)
  • degradation of benthos (2010)

Our partners

We partner with other levels of government, non-government groups, Indigenous communities and members of the public. This restoration work required a large amount of scientific and technical expertise, local knowledge, hard work and the help of:

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: