Newsletter - December, 2015


Dr. Rob Stewart of the Faculty of Geography and the Environment at Lakehead University (front right) leads a group of students from around Lake Superior to a viewpoint overlooking Thunder Bay Harbour near Centennial Park.

Youth Symposium Engages Lake Superior Students

Canadian and U.S. students from schools around Lake Superior met in Thunder Bay this spring as part of the Lake Superior Youth Symposium hosted by Churchill High School. The three day symposium in May allowed participants to explore the challenges and accomplishments of protecting and managing Lake Superior.

Students were lead by various local organizations to unique learning locations and the Infosuperior office at Lakehead University participated by taking students on a tour of the North Shore Steelhead Association’s George Creek Habitat Rehabilitation Project at Centennial Park. Students were shown why and how a small stream, heavily impacted by “landscaping” had been rehabilitated to restore ecological integrity, including fish habitat and ease of passage for native fish species.

After the visit to George Creek, students walked from the Centennial Park chalet to a lookout over the Current River put in place by organizations including the City of Thunder Bay, Lakehead Region Conservation Authority, Hydro One Networks and the Thunder Bay Field Naturalists. Students then walked to a location overlooking Boulevard Lake and Lake Superior where information was provided about the ships, grain elevators and islands they were seeing. Students were fortunate in seeing an ocean-going vessel being loaded at Richardson's grain elevator. Michigan students along on the tour were proud to point out Isle Royale in the distance beyond the Sleeping Giant, making sure all were aware that this U.S. national park was part of Michigan.

Mayor Gary Nelson of Red Rock

Red Rock Treatment Plant Construction to Proceed

Construction of a new nine million dollar wastewater treatment plant for the Town of Red Rock is proceeding. The federal and provincial governments are each providing half the funds for construction.

Red Rock Mayor Gary Nelson, Chief Administrative Officer Kal Pristanski and Public Works Superintendent Dave Pettersen attended the December 9th meeting of the Public Advisory Committee to the Nipigon Bay Remedial Action Plan in Red Rock. Town officials told the group that the Ontario Clean Water Agency had been named construction manager and construction tenders had been let on November 28th, to be opened on December 18th. Kal Pristanski noted that five companies had taken part in a site visit on December 9th.

Advisory Committee members learned that construction would begin in the fall of 2016 and be completed by 2018. Upon completion, a one year warranty is included for the plant.

Red Rock representatives were asked whether stormwater would flow through the new plant or be separated from sanitary flow. Town officials responded by saying a plan providing for separation was part and parcel of the project. Stormwater infiltration to a wastewater treatment plant can add unnecessary volume, stress and cost to plant operation since the plant is, in effect, treating clean rain water.

Town officials concluded their presentation by thanking Remedial Action Plan representatives for their assistance in procuring funding for the new plant.


Original Nipigon Bay Public Advisory Committee members, some still active committee volunteers, with debris pulled from Nipigon's Clearwater Creek - early '90's.

Environmental Action in Nipigon Bay

 The Nipigon Bay Remedial Action Plan (RAP) hosted an open house on May 7th at the Nipigon Recreation Centre including a presentation, question, answer and public comment period. The event was an opportunity for residents of Nipigon, Red Rock, Lake Helen and area to find out about completed RAP actions to restore environmental quality in Nipigon Bay. Ongoing monitoring and environmental programs for Nipigon Bay were also outlined. 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.

 Efforts to restore ecological integrity to Nipigon Bay have involved several significant projects. Completed actions include:

• 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 in the Town of Nipigon

• A stormwater management plan for Clearwater Creek and the Town of Nipigon

• A Marina in Red Rock incoporating fish habitat features.

 Ongoing work in Nipigon Bay includes:

• Environmental monitoring

• Construction of a secondary wastewater treatment plant for the Town of Red Rock.

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.

May 7th Nipigon Bay RAP Open House Transcript.

Photos of the May 7th Nipigon Bay RAP Open House.

Pic Island

Explore Lake Superior Country with the "Group of Seven"

A full length TV Ontario film (1 hr, 11') entitled, "Painted Land: In Search of the Group of Seven" is now available online from TV Ontario.

Go directly to the film.

The film blends the art of Canada's "Group of Seven" painters with present day visits to locations like the Algoma Highlands area near Sault Ste. Marie, Pic Island near Marathon and the Slate Islands near Terrace Bay. The last 20 minutes of the film deal with the more western locations, like the Slate Islands and Port Coldwell near Neys Provincial Park on Lake Superior. The Group of Seven visited Lake Superior almost 100 years ago, highly motivated to paint and enjoy. The lake is still there today. Viewing this film helps us realize why we live along it’s shore, enjoy its beauty and strive to protect the lake. Enjoy this amazing film.

InfoSuperior Survey



Help us further understand the needs, priorities and future aspirations of groups and individuals interested in Lake Superior. The information provided will help identify options on how best to work together to achieve common goals.

The “Communities of Action” survey can be accessed here:


Log booms cover a substantial portion of Thunder Bay Harbour inside the breakwall in this 1938 aerial view. Infosuperior's mapping tool graphically displays historic conditions, cleanup actions and present day conditions.

New Infosuperior Mapping Tool

Go directly to the mapping tool...

Infosuperior has posted a new mapping tool providing an overview of the Thunder Bay “Area of Concern.” The online map shows the entire Thunder Bay Harbour which comprises this Great Lakes Area of Concern.  The map allows viewers to focus on specific harbour locations where remedial actions have been implemented to address issues like degraded habitat or contaminated sediment. Textual information is also provided outlining the specific environmental issue addressed, the action taken, the partners who put the project in place and the cost for each project. Links are provided to associated photos, video clips, documents and reports. Historical imagery is also provided for several project sites, allowing visitors to view specific project locations both before and after construction.

View the many Great Lakes mapping tools available on Infosuperior.

View real-time Lake Superior data including water levels on Infosuperior.


Draft Lakewide Action and Management Plan Ready for Public Review

The Lake Superior Binational Partnership released it’s draft “Lakewide Action and Management Plan” in November. The document outlines plans and actions for Lake Superior restoration and protection.

Go directly to the draft document.

 The Lake Superior Binational Partnership, lead by the Canadian and U.S. federal governments in the form of Environment Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, cooperated with all states and provinces around Lake Superior to develop and implement this initiative. This includes representation from the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and their counterparts in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. U. S. tribes play a large role in the partnership and Canadian First Nations are being encouraged to participate.

 Unlike Lake Superior “Areas of Concern” which are specific locations around the lake like Thunder Bay, Nipigon Bay and Peninsula Harbour where serious contamination and other issues lead to them being pinpointed for cleanup action, the action plan takes a “lakewide” view.  In fact the Lake Superior watershed, not just the lake itself, is the focus of this binational initiative.

 The document presents information about the current health of Lake Superior, lakewide objectives and actions, along with science and monitoring priorities.

 Objectives include:

• Maintain deepwater and offshore waters in good ecological condition

• Maintain coastal wetlands in good ecological condition

• Maintain Islands in good ecological condition

• Maintain tributaries and watersheds in good ecological condition.

Threats Include:

• Aquatic invasive species

• Climate change

• Dams and barriers

• Existing chemicals of concern

• Emerging chemicals of Concern.

 Actions Include:

• restore habitat connectivity broken by culverts, power lines and roads

• support and implement initiatives for bans and collections of pesticides

• promote best mining practices supporting Lake Superior ecosystem objectives

• reduce non-point source pollution from urban areas

• protect and restore coastal and riparian habitat

• integrate green infrastructure principals in coastal developments.

 The draft Lakewide Action and Management Plan is accessible on the Infosuperior website at:

Comments, input and questions about the draft Lakewide Action and Management Plan are encouraged through contact with:

Environment Canada

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Volunteers Frank Edgson and Amy Godwin work on the George Creek rehabilitation project in Thunder Bay's Centennial Park. The project was completed in 2014.

Superior Streams Supports Ongoing Rehabilitation and Monitoring

Individuals and organizations with an interest in restoring the ecological integrity of area streams are cooperating as part of a group they’ve named Superior Streams. Members recognize the value of even very small streams as nursery habitat for fish in area waterways, including Lake Superior. Attention to water quality, flow, substrate material and vegetation are only part of the picture as this group understands the importance of the wide range of ecosystem processes in and around streams, all contributing to biological diversity and healthy aquatic ecosystems.

Many area streams have been degraded by various developments. Problems include culvert placement high above the streambed precluding fish passage, stream damage from nearby construction and “hardened” shoreline where habitat is eliminated by “improvements” like concrete retaining walls.

Representatives of the Northshore Steelhead Association have played a leading role in the work of Superior Streams. Lakehead University and the Thunder Bay Stewardship Council are also key participants. Work is strongly supported by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and Environment Canada.

Progress to date includes stream rehabilitation projects at Kama Creek on Nipigon Bay and at George Creek, a small stream in Thunder Bay’s Centennial Park. In addition to identifying future streams which could benefit from rehabilitation, the group feels environmental monitoring is a critical next step. Members stress that monitoring is essential in establishing conditions before a project takes place and in scientifically documenting project benefits, as well as room for improvement, upon project completion.  Documenting parameters like water quality, flow rates, fish populations and species diversity will assist in determining where scarce resources should be allocated. Superior Streams will be expanding monitoring to the many North Shore streams flowing into Lake Superior. Once this “baseline” has been established, the group hopes further rehabilitation projects can be completed, assisting the fishery in and around Lake Superior and restoring ecological integrity to area streams.

View photos of the George Creek rehabilitation project.

View photos of the Kama Creek rehabilitation project.


Infosuperior Podcasts

 In the December podcast, Lakehead University student Nathan Wilson (pictured) describes environmental research focused on Cloud Lake, southwest of Thunder Bay.

Listen to the podcast.

In the November podcast, Bill Mattes, who works with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission in Wisconsin, explains how pollution is migrating toward an important area of Lake Superior fish habitat at Buffalo Reef near the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Listen to the podcast.  

If you are in interested in Lake Superior and the people and organizations working to restore and protect our lake, check out Infosuperior’s podcasts are simply short audio interviews averaging about 15’ in length. The Infosuperior podcast page contains interviews with kayakers about why they love paddling the lake, with students about microplastics, biologists about threatened fish habitat and with fishermen about the largest river entering the Great Lakes – the Nipigon. Tune into to view a complete list of podcasts. Enjoy the listening!


What is Infosuperior?

Infosuperior is an organization based at Lakehead University focusing on Lake Superior restoration, protection, research, and information exchange. Infosuperior coordinates Remedial Action Plans, or cleanup plans, in three Lake Superior locations.  These locations are Thunder Bay, Nipigon Bay and Peninsula Harbour (the main harbour at Marathon) All of these points were designated by the federal and provincial governments as Great Lakes areas of environmental concern. Infosuperior also coordinates activities in an area of environmental concern designated as being in recovery. This is Jackfish Bay, just east of Terrace Bay.

Infosuperior is also involved in broader lakewide efforts and has begun partnership with the Great Lakes Research Centre at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan and the Superior Watershed Partnership in Marquette, Michigan. Engaging area residents, organizations and institutions in Lake Superior restoration and protection is critical for progress.

InfoSuperior operates within the Faculty of Geography and the Environment at Lakehead University under the direction of Dr. Rob Stewart. Support for Infosuperior's activities comes from Lakehead University, Environment Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and from the volunteer efforts of public advisory committees in Lake Superior communities. View Ontario's Great Lakes Strategy here.

The website contains a wide variety of information about Lake Superior including news, upcoming events, maps, marine charts, live water level data, documents and podcasts.