Water Canada : Diagnosis: Stream Sickness

Via: Water Canada 

Posted on December 16, 2013
Written by Angela Wallace

Are Toronto’s streams sick? Yes, many of them are. They are suffering from an “illness” known as urban stream syndrome (USS), which results from changes associated with urban development. The hardening of surfaces, such as roads and roofs, creates a landscape that makes it difficult to absorb rainfall. In areas without proper stormwater management, the volume of stormwater is high and runoff collects sediment, nutrients, and contaminants as it travels across hard surfaces, causing streams to function more like sewers. Symptoms include changes in the aquatic community, hydrology, and water chemistry.

The Greater Toronto Area has approximately 5.5 million people. This has put pressure on its approximately 3,654 kilometres of streams and watercourses. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), one of 36 conservation authorities in the province, has been tasked with protecting and managing water and other natural resources in partnership with government, landowners, and other agencies.

TRCA operates a long-term, large-scale Regional Watershed Monitoring Program (RWMP), which tracks aquatic habitat and species, surface water quality, stream flow, precipitation, groundwater quality and quantity, and terrestrial natural heritage in nine watersheds across 3,467 square kilometres. Data from the RWMP was recently used to show that streams in the Toronto region have USS. Road density (used as a surrogate of urbanization) was shown to be related to the USS symptoms. Both fish and benthic-macroinvertebrate (aquatic “bugs” that inhabit stream bottoms) communities were negatively related to road density. Higher road density was also linked to decreases in aquatic ecosystem health (biotic diversity), higher stream water temperature and discharge, lower amounts of forest, and higher levels of contaminants.

In fact, concentrations of nutrients, metals, and bacteria were all higher in catchments with higher road density; several contaminants, including chloride, copper, E. coli, sodium, and zinc, had very strong relationships with road density, suggesting they are more abundant in urban areas and that impervious cover may serve to concentrate and convey these variables quickly to local waterways.

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BBC News: River basins ‘vital for growth’

12 June 2012

River basins ‘vital for growth’
By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News

The world’s top river basin regions have a vital role in the future in terms of sustaining economic growth in the future, a report has suggested.

However, current projections show that seven of the top 10 areas are currently using unsustainable volumes of water.

A UN report said the global target of halving the number of people in the world without access to safe drinking water was achieved in March 2012.

The report was commissioned by HSBC, WWF, Earthwatch and WaterAid.

The document, Exploring the Links between Water and Economic Growth, produced by Frontier Economics, recorded that almost 800 million remained without access to safe drinking water, while 2.5bn were without basic access to sanitation.

The report’s authors estimate that nations would see their GDP improve by up to 15% if the global Millennium Development Targets were achieved.

A report published by the UN in March said the international community had acheived the goal of halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water.

In the past 20 years, two billion people have gained access to improved drinking water.

However, it acknowledged that global targets to improve sanitation were unlikely to be met by the 2015 deadline.

The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) lists 75% of the world’s population benefiting from improved sanitation, yet figures suggest that only 63% of the world’s population currently have improved sanitation access, a figure projected to increase only to 67% by 2015.

This means that 2.5bn people are still without the level of sanitation outlined in the MDGs.

The report by Frontier Economics listed a number of avenues that need to be addressed in order for the “water challenge” to be addressed.

As well as improving the access to drinking water and sanitation, it also listed the need for great efficiency in the way water is consumed within agriculture, industry and domestic sectors.

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EPA releases draft National Water Program 2012 Strategy

via @climateandwater Draft EPA “National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change” Released for Public Comment http://1.usa.gov/I8o9LN

EPA’s Draft 2012 Strategy adresses climate change impacts on water resources and EPA’s water programs. Climate change alters the water cycle and could affect the implementation of EPA’s programs. EPA and our state, tribal, local and federal partners must review and adapt the practices that have been developed over the past 40 years since passage of the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and other statutes. Ensuring that EPA’s programs continue to protect public health, and the environment that sustains our communities and the economy, requires immediate and continuous collaboration.

National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change—Public Comment Draft (PDF) (112pp, 3.6MB, About PDF)

How to Comment:

Comments must be received on or before May 17, 2012, 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.


KDM: Scientists report on effects of climate change, phosphorous and algae at international forum

Scientists report on effects of climate change, phosphorous and algae at international forum

Reg Clayton
Kenora Daily Miner and News, March 7, 2012.

The impact of climate change and the effects of nutrients and algae on water quality are topics of discussion at the 9th International Lake of the Woods Water Quality Forum in International Falls, March 7-8.

The annual forum is hosted by the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation.

Foundation executive director Todd Sellers noted the international conference provides a once a year opportunity for scientists and resource managers from both sides of the international boundary to meet face to face and share the latest information on the Lake of the Woods and Rainy River watershed.

“It’s the annual opportunity for all the scientists and resource managers studying the watershed to report the results of their research and collaborative plans for the future,” Sellers commented Tuesday.

Kenora councillor Ron Lunny is the city’s representative at the forum. He will report back to council on information provided by the scientific committees, particularly on matters relating to water quality and lake levels.

“How does (Lake of the Woods) water quality today compare to 100 years ago? Is it getting better or worse?” related Lunny as examples of questions he is hopeful the scientific community will be able to answer.

The themes of this year’s conference are Nutrients and Algae, Hydrology and Water Quality Modelling as well as a special session on Climate Change Impacts on the Lake of the Woods watershed.

Minnesota scientists will also report on the results of the nutrient monitoring program on Lake of the Woods. The state government has declared the lake an Impaired Water Body due to phosphorous loading in the system, possibly due to agricultural fertilizers in run-off water as well as from municipal and natural sources. The designation requires resource managers to implement remediation plans and reduction limits for phosphorous.

“It’s very important for Ontario and Manitoba to learn of the results and how to cooperate in the cleanup plan,” Sellers said.

Special guest speaker Lana Pollack, chairman of the U.S. Section of the International Joint Commission, will relate developments of the IJC’s January report and recommendations to the governments of Canada and the United States to implement a new governance model for water management on Lake of the Woods.

“We’re waiting for the governments to respond to the report’s recommendations to build and expand on the existing binational management model and pollution controls in place for the Rainy River watershed to include Lake of the Woods,” Sellers said. (Report on Bi-National Water Management of the Lake of the Woods – Rainy River Watershed )

The IJC recommends the two governments form a binational board to develop study plans for nutrients, algae, invasive species and establish a joint program to monitor pollution in Lake of the Woods and the Boundary waters.