Listen to the interview with John Jackson (ensure your computer audio is turned on, volume up)
In the July, 2015 edition of Infosuperior’s podcast series, John Jackson provides perspective about efforts to increase Great Lakes public engagement. John is a resident of Kitchener, Ontario. He has a wide range of knowledge and depth of experience in Great Lakes environmental issues. John’s activities range from grass roots community efforts through to the highest levels of Great Lakes environmental governance. John is very familiar with Lake Superior and people in communities around the lake. He has visited many Lake Superior communities, in both Canada and USA, often on multiple occasions.
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit has issued an advisory for those interested in swimming at Thunder Bay’s Boulevard Lake. Swimming advisories, or “beach advisories,” are issued to advise swimmers of water quality conditions which may adversely affect a swimmers health. Read the advisory from the Thunder Bay District Health Unit here…
*UPDATE: July 10th – The Thunder Bay District Health Unit discontinues “beach advisory” for Boulevard Lake.
For information about Thunder Bay and area beach advisories click here.
A binational webinar focusing on Annex 2 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, “Lakewide Management,” was held on Wednesday, July 8th from 1:00-3:00 CT (2:00-4:00 ET). Slides from the webinar can be found here. The webinar is intended to:
· provide a brief overview of the Agreement, focusing on Annex 2;
· provide an update of progress under Annex 2 thus far; and
· hold an open discussion on the subject of public outreach and engagement under Annex 2.
In early 2013, a revised and updated Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement entered into force. The revised Agreement covers issues such as Areas of Concern, lakewide management, and nutrients, but also covers new issues like invasive species and climate change. Annex 2 of the agreement is intended to assess the status of each Great Lake and address environmental stressors on a lakewide scale through an ecosystem approach.
Public engagement is a key principle of the Agreement, which describes such engagement as incorporating public opinion and advice, as appropriate, and providing information and opportunities for the public to participate in activities that contribute to the achievement of the objectives of this Agreement. The webinar is intended to encompass an open discussion on the topic of outreach and engagement, including proven practices and suggestions for innovation.
All Great Lakes stakeholders (NGOs, citizens, academics, etc.) are welcome to participate in the July 8th webinar.
At their June 9th meeting, the Public Advisory Committee (PAC) to the Nipigon Bay Remedial Action Plan discussed the “Report Recommending Delisting and Path Forward.” The group “commends the authors for accurately reporting on work completed to address environmental impairments in Nipigon Bay.” PAC members encourage the federal and provincial governments to provide an ongoing environmental monitoring plan, ask for input into Town of Nipigon plans for stormwater management and also ask for completion of upgrades to the Red Rock municipal wastewater treatment plant. PAC members say they support delisting the Nipigon Bay Area of Concern once the above mentioned items are in place.
Comment has also been received from the Towns of Nipigon and Red Rock. Nipigon supports delisting and Red Rock notes, “the volume of work that has been completed and great strides that have been accomplished in cleaning up Nipigon Bay over the past 20 years.” Deputy Mayor Steve Carruthers, in a letter dated June 24th, says Red Rock councillors do not favour delisting Nipigon Bay at this time. He says council feels that removing the Area of Concern designation might jeopardize federal funding for wastewater treatment plant upgrades.
Comments from the PAC, Town of Nipigon and Town of Red Rock can be seen in their entirety here:
The International Joint Commission has responded with comments to the Draft “Nipigon Bay Remedial Action Plan Report Recommending Delisting and Path Forward” as presented to the public by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Environent Canada at a Nipigon Bay RAP Open House in Nipigon on May 7th. Read the cover letter and comments from the IJC here.
An important milestone has been reached on the road to establishing The Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area in the Canadian waters of Lake Superior. On June 2nd, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced introduction of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area Act to formally establish the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area. This step comes after many years working through requirements for establishment. The conservation area is located in an area bordered by the tip of Thunder Cape (the Sleeping Giant) near Thunder Bay in the west to Terrace Bay in the east. Read more…
Cloud Lake Open House – Sat., May 30 from 10am to noon
Blake Hall (71 Blake Hall Rd., Neebing, ON)
Lakehead University will be hosting an open house for residents and campers of the Cloud Lake area on Sat., May 30th from 10 am to noon at Blake Hall (71 Blake Hall Rd., Neebing, ON)(map).
Over the summer months, scientists from the university will be examining the effects of nutrient inputs to the lake in terms of the total phosphorous production. They will also be examining the effects of these nutrients on the local aquatic ecosystem.
In recent years, user groups and resource managers have noted declining ecosystem conditions in Cloud Lake. A decline in water quality has been observed as indicated by algal blooms, increased turbidity, and elevated phosphorus concentrations. In addition, aquatic invasive species—rusty crayfish and smelt—have been introduced, and the quality of the fishery has decreased. There are several potential causes for the decline in ecosystem health, but field studies have been limited to single data points without the benefit of a planned and coordinated effort to gather data over multiple seasons. Lakehead University has agreed to collect baseline data this summer to better define the problem and to understand the environmental factors that may be affecting the watershed.
This open house is an opportunity for residents to meet the researchers, ask questions and provide input/observations on the lake conditions. Free refreshments will be provided.
Ray Dupuis Sr. of Nipigon is interviewed in the May, 2015 Infosuperior podcast, or audio interview. Ray speaks about change over time which he has observed in the Nipigon Bay fishery. LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW on the podcast page.
Update regarding the gate setting of the Compensating Works [the structure controlling L. Superior levels at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario] expected in May.
Providing ice conditions allow it, the Compensating Works are expected to be set to the equivalent of approximately two gates fully open tomorrow, Friday, May 1st. This will be achieved by partially opening twelve gates (Gates #3 to #14) a total of 31 cm (12 in.) each. Anglers should remain cautious of changing flows and water levels and the potential for hazardous ice conditions in the St. Marys Rapids. Note that conditions will be reassessed and the gate setting may be increased again later in the month, once ice conditions improve. We will advise of any changes at that time.
As usual, there will be no change to Gate #1, which supplies water to the channel north of the Fishery Remedial Dike. Furthermore, Gate #2 will remain closed for the time being in order to provide lower velocities and potential angling opportunities along the northern portion of the main rapids. This is something that’s been suggested in the past and we’d welcome feedback on this approach.
Mayor Gary Nelson of Red Rock (standing, right) addresses participants at the May 7th Nipigon Bay RAP Open House event. About 50 people from Nipigon, Red Rock, Lake Helen, Rocky Bay and Beardmore attended the event. Click here for more photos. Scroll down in this post for audio clips reflecting public input.
Associated Documents and Information:
- One page Nipigon Bay Overview
- Nipigon Bay Remedial Action Plan Report Recommending Delisting and Path Forward
- Presentation utilized at May 7th Open House outlining impairments/actions.
Audio “Clips” Reflecting Public Input from the Nipigon Bay RAP Open House:(ensure computer volume is on/up)
A complete transcript of the the public questions, comments and responses is available (here).
- Government representative Michelle McChristie of the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change recommends “delisting” Nipigon Bay Area of Concern (44″ – .m4a audio)
- Public Advisory Committee member Wayne Young supports delisting with two caveats (1′ 57″ – .m4a)
- Red Rock CAO Kal Pristanski comments on Red Rock secondary treatment status (1′ 18″ – .m4a)
- NOTE: Much of what Kal said is inaudible; however, facilitator Jim Bailey recapped Kal’s points, stating $4.5 million has been committed by the provincial and federal governments for a total of $9 million and that the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.
- An open house participant by the name of Jim (last name unknown) suggests completion of items like secondary municipal wasterwater treatment for Red Rock before delisting (1′ 02″ – .m4a)
- Red Rock Indian Band Councillor Ed Wawia would like to see a written and comprehensive ongoing monitoring plan (.m4a)
- NOTE: The response of Environment Canada’s Greg Grabas is somewhat inaudible so the transcript is below:
- Greg Grabas: The report is available online (see link to completion report above in this post). I can sit here and tell you what’s in it but it is much better written in the actual report in terms of ongoing monitoring. To build on that, if there is interest in additional monitoring then again there are other application-based funding tools that can be used to increase the monitoring. I mean it depends on what the actual program is and what the actual project is. I encourage you to take a look at the document. It is at the back of the document under ongoing progress (p. 53).
- [Jim Bailey] So Greg, what your saying is that it’s there – the ongoing monitoring?
- Greg Grabas: Not in Nipigon Bay specially, a post-delisting monitoring plan. But there has always been monitoring in Lake Superior and if there is a need to augment that funding can be searched out.
- NOTE: The response of Environment Canada’s Greg Grabas is somewhat inaudible so the transcript is below:
The Nipigon Bay Remedial Action Plan (RAP) hosted an open house on May 7th at the Nipigon Recreation Centre in Nipigon, Ontario. A presentation, along with question, answer and public comment period took place at 7 p.m. Approximately 50 people attended the event. View the full agenda. The event was an opportunity for residents of Nipigon, Red Rock, Lake Helen, Dorion and area to find out about completed RAP actions to restore environmental quality in Nipigon Bay. Ongoing monitoring and environmental programs for Nipigon Bay will also be outlined. Completed actions incude:
- a Nipigon River Water Management Plan limiting water level fluctuations impacting fish populations
- a new secondary municipal wastewater treatment plant for the Town of Nipigon
- substantial work to remove garbage/debris and rehabilitate Clearwater Creek
- a marina in Red Rock incorporating fish habitat features
Ongoing work includes:
- environmental monitoring
- a stormwater management plan for Clearwater Creek and the Town of Nipigon
- construction of a secondary wastewater treatment plant for the Town of Red Rock.
Displays and information about completed RAP actions, ongoing environmental programs and monitoring were included at the event. Representatives from the RAP Public Advisory Committee, Environment Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry were on hand to answer questions/comments and discuss concerns.
Nipigon Bay was originally listed as a Great Lakes “Area of Concern” because water quality and environmental health were severely degraded. This situation was due to industrial and municipal effluent discharges, accumulation of wood fibre and bark from log driving and fluctuating river flows due to hydro-electric generation. These factors caused several environmental problems, including heavily impacted fish populations. Work to implement remedial actions in Nipigon Bay has been ongoing since this location was identified as an Area of Concern in 1986 by the International Joint Commission in conjunction with the governments of Canada and USA.