The Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern initially dealt only with the Sutherland Creek subwatershed, located in an intensely agricultural area of Eastern Ontario. In 1992, the Sutherland Creek Restoration Study was undertaken that addressed the extent and causes of environmental degradation and identified potential remedial measures. Subsequently a stewardship program was initiated in Sutherland Creek to address water quality and fish habitat issues. Following its successful uptake by the agricultural community in Sutherland Creek, this stewardship initiative was expanded to include the other tributaries to the St. Lawrence River between Moses Saunders Dam and the Quebec border.
After ten years of an agricultural stewardship program in the Sutherland Creek subwatershed, water quality sampling was conducted at many of stations used in the 1992 Sutherland Creek Restoration Study. Sampling results suggested that phosphorous levels continue to be generally well above Provincial Water Quality Objectives of 30 ug/L, a delisting criteria outlined in the RAP, without however some of the extremely high values observed in the past.
Phased over three years, a detailed assessment of Sutherland Creek was completed in 2006. Utilizing the Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol developed by the Ministry of Natural Resources, sixty sites were examined to measure the health of the watershed compared against a benchmark stream located outside of the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern (Hoople Creek). Although Hoople Creek was determined to be somewhat degraded, the study concluded that the aquatic ecosystem health of Sutherland Creek is similar, suggesting that progress has been realized with restoration activities completed in the watershed.
Water quality sampling at the outlets to the tributaries within the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern suggest that Pattingale Creek has some of the highest levels of total phosphorous and an assessment may provide some guidance on the progress of restoration and a prioritization of locations and projects needed to meet RAP targets. A similar, but abbreviated assessment protocol was prepared and implemented in Pattingale Creek in 2008, where a stewardship program was introduced more recently than Sutherland Creek. Data is currently being analysed and a Summary Report shall be completed shortly.
For additional information, please contact Chris Critoph, Manager of Environmental Services. chris.critoph@@rrca.on.ca. or Brendan Jacobs, Fish and Wildlife Monitoring Supervisor. firstname.lastname@example.org.