Bay of Quinte RAP seeks to strengthen watershed protection

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Decades of efforts to remove the Bay of Quinte from one of the 43 Great Lakes Areas of Environmental Concern are stepping up with the release of a new discussion paper recommending further suppression of phosphorus entering the watershed to control harmful algal blooms.

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Growing development and climate change demand even more aggressive measures to reduce phosphorus levels in the bay from the current 30 mg. per liter at 26/27 mg. per liter to prevent algae blooms from suffocating fish and marine habitat, say the authors of the Bay of Quinte remedial action plan article.

Plan coordinators say “In aquatic ecosystems like the Bay of Quinte (BQ), it’s the ability of phosphorus to promote rapid growth that is causing problems. It only takes one pound of phosphorus to grow 500 pounds. seaweed.

“Thick, floating algae mats shut off light and oxygen, suffocate other aquatic plants, and decaying algae and weeds take up oxygen from the water that is vital to fish and other animals. They can also cause taste and odor problems in drinking water.

Sarah Midlane-Jones, community outreach specialist with the Bay of Quinte Corrective Action Plan, said in an interview on Friday that the 37-page discussion paper would help pave the way for an even cleaner watershed that is vital for the economic and natural well-being of the Quinte. Region.

“The long-term phosphorus management plan is important to building on the success of the remediation plan. The plan will be completed over the next few years and there must be something in place to ensure that the bay does not revert to conditions when the corrective action plan began, ”said Midlane-Jones. “This was identified as a matter of concern in 1985 and the reports came out in the early ’90s.”

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In 1993, the Corrective Action Plan issued 80 recommendations to reverse years of ecological damage from pollution, industrial runoff and sewage treatment plants that contributed to the dumping of harmful effluents into the Bay of Quinte.

Almost three decades later, much progress has been made in addressing the recommendations, but there is still work to be done to ensure that the health of the watershed continues to improve.

“The main problem with the bay has always been the amount of phosphorus coming from urban and rural sources. Thus, this plan sets targets for the amount of phosphorus taking into account the increase in population, development pressures and climate change which will all present future challenges and possibly increase phosphorus levels in the bay ”, said Midlane-Jones.

The new plan from the Bay of Quinte Restoration Council, which oversees the corrective action plan, called for extensive expert input for the latest discussion paper from many sources including the University of Toronto, federal and provincial agencies, Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. .

“All of these types of agencies have contributed to this plan and as part of this one we have to go out and talk to the people that it is going to affect. We talked to the municipalities and we are going to talk about it to agriculture, we are also going to talk to the general public about [how] that’s the next step after the bay is written off, ”said Midlane-Jones.

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Targets are set out in the discussion paper to reduce phosphorus levels from leaching from Quinte lands into the watershed.

“The goal is to restore and maintain the bay to a healthy and sustainable condition over the long term by reducing the risk of harmful algal blooms, while maintaining sustainable fishing in the bay. The strategy must be based on the best available scientific and modeling studies, the best available technology for wastewater and stormwater treatment, and the adoption of long-term stewardship initiatives, ”the document said.

Three main sources of phosphorus are identified as requiring further reductions to achieve cleaner water in the Bay of Quinte.

The document notes that “the diffuse phosphorus load from agricultural land use should be reduced by 20% based on estimates of the current annual load. “

A second goal calls for wastewater treatment plants and industrial wastewater treatment plants to reduce “phosphorus loadings by 60% on average, based on the limits approved by the current environmental compliance approval and none. net increase in expenses in the future. This can be accomplished by maintaining a phosphorus effluent limit of 0.1 mg TP / L, the design goal.

A third objective calls for a 50% reduction in “diffuse loads of urban rainwater. The current estimate of the load for stormwater inputs is 6.8 metric tonnes per year. This can be accomplished through the adoption and implementation of existing recommended pollution prevention control plans, improved stormwater management controls, retrofits and the use of developmental technologies. low impact, ”according to the discussion paper.

The Bay of Quinte Restoration Council is seeking feedback on the targets and proposed actions that will form the basis of the long-term phosphorus management strategy.

The public is invited to send comments to Sarah Midlane-Jones by email at [email protected]

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