Water Quality PDF Print E-mail

Lake Niapenco is a 433-acre reservoir in the Binbrook Conservation Area. Constructed in 1971, its purpose was to augment summer water flow in the Welland River and assist in flood control. The Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority operates the area.

During the 1970 and early 80`s it was a popular location for swimming, boating, windsurfing, fishing, and picnicking. In the late 1980`s water quality had deteriorated and was responsible for frequent beach closures due to high bacteria counts. Turbid water conditions which prohibit sunlight penetration and limits vegetation growth and oxygen content resulting in algae blooms also were a contributing factor.

In 1988 a water quality study was undertaken by the Conservation Authority under the C.U.R.B. (Clean up Rural Beaches) program to identify the sources of water pollution.

A survey of over 650 household septic systems in the watershed study area by the Hamilton-Wentworth Department of Health indicated that 70% failed to comply with regulations. The main problem was grey water (wash water) by passing the septic system and entering roadside ditches. Both "grey water " and "black water" are serious risks to water quality and human health as they contain high concentrations of fecal bacteria.

Water quality monitoring in areas where "grey water" by-passes are known to occur show fecal bacteria levels over 200 times higher than Ministry of Environment guidelines for safe recreational use of water.

Twenty-two locations requiring improved manure storage facilities were identified as well as seven sites where cattle had access to the watercourse. Milkhouse wash water disposal methods were examined, and improved treatment methods investigated.

Canada goose and seagull droppings were identified as a major contributor of fecal coliform counts in the reservoir as they fed and rested on the grassy area maintained by conservation authority staff.

As a result of identifying problem areas, the following measures were implemented:

  • Septic systems were repaired as necessary

  • Water conservation encouraged

  • Cattle access to the watercourse eliminated through fencing affected areas

  • Improved manure storage facilities encouraged and implemented at high priority locations

  • Improved milkhouse wash water treatment implemented

  • Construction of a gull screen over the swimming beach to discourage them from the area

  • Groomed grass areas away from the swimming beach for Canada geese

  • Planting aquatic vegetation to assist in reducing phosphorous levels and improving water clarity

  • Shoreline erosion control through bioengineering ( planting trees and native shrubs and plants)

  • Buffer zones to allow rainfall run-off to be absorbed into the soil

  • Encourage no-till in areas adjacent to the watercourse

  • Cooperation of local businesses such as the Hamilton Airport who are presently recycling over 95% of aircraft de-icing fluids and monitoring water quality flowing from the airport

As a result of these initiatives the water quality at Binbrook Conservation Area has seen vast improvement, and swimming beach closures due to poor water quality virtually eliminated.

Another benefit is the quality of water we pass on to our neighbours downstream of our community.

Come out to Binbrook Conservation Area and see for yourself.

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