Month: September 2016

Oct. 19 – Peninsula Harbour Monitoring Presentation

Peninsula Harbour Capping Project
Sand and aggregate are lowered from a barge into Peninsula Harbour within the confines of a “silt curtain.” This work was part of a 2012 project to cap contaminated harbour sediment.

A summary of environmental monitoring data collected in Peninsula Harbour, the main harbour at Marathon, Ontario, will be presented between 12 noon and 1:30 p.m. on October 19th at Marathon Town Hall. The presentation is being made to provide information about the health of the Peninsula Harbour ecosystem.

In 1987 Peninsula Harbour was designated as one of several locations around the Great Lakes where cleanup actions were required to address environmental issues. This designation was part of the Remedial Action Plan (RAP), a program put in place by Canada and USA to clean up the Great Lakes. Concerns centered on mercury and PCB contamination, degraded fish and benthic communities (bottom dwelling organisms living in harbour sediment) and aesthetic issues like large quantities of foam, sometimes over a meter thick, on the harbour surface. A community liaison committee, based in Marathon and nearby Pic River and chaired by Dr. Sarah Newberry, provided local perspective and assistance as cleanup proceeded.

In 2012, Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change completed a $6 million project to cap contaminated harbour sediment with clean sand and aggregate. Monitoring data to be presented will include information related to environmental recovery in the area of this cap, which covers the area of highest contamination within the harbour.

Data will be presented by representatives of government agencies supporting the Remedial Action Plan, namely Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

The event is being hosted by the Peninsula Harbour Remedial Action Plan, coordinated by Lakehead University through its Department of Geography and Environmental Science.

Related links:

More information about the Peninsula Harbour Remedial Action Plan.

An overview of the Peninsula Harbour capping project.

Photos of the capping project taken during a public tour organized by the Peninsula Harbour Remedial Action Plan.

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Widespread Plastic Pollution Found in Great Lakes Tributaries

New research from the U. S. Geological Survey documents tiny pieces of plastic, called microplastics, in many rivers flowing to the Great Lakes.

…and by the way, don’t think that Superior avoids the microplastics issue. A sub-set of microplastics, called “nurdles”, which are used in the plastics manufacturing process, are a severe issue in Nipigon Bay and surrounding area. Thanks to Chuck Hutterli, who lives on the shore of Nipigon Bay near Gravel River, for working so hard to have this issue addressed.

Related video

Related article

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Great Lakes Commission Annual Meeting

This meeting will be held on October 6th and 7th in Toronto and is a chance for Great Lakes stakeholders to share perspectives. Economics, climate change and invasive species are all on the agenda.

The Great Lakes Commission is an interstate agency promoting orderly use and conservation of the water and related natural resources of the Great Lakes basin and St. Lawrence River. Its members include the eight Great Lakes states with associate member status for the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Québec.

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Terrace Bay Lake Superior Evening Features Environmental and Historical Information

Blackbird Creek
Blackbird Creek east of Terrace Bay near the Trans-Canada Highway.

A summary of environmental monitoring data collected in Blackbird Creek and Jackfish Bay will be presented at 7 p.m. on October 19th at the Terrace Bay Recreation Centre. This information will be delivered by representatives of Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. A presentation by a representative of the Aditya Birla Terrace Bay mill focusing on effluent treatment will also be included. The presentation is intended to provide insight into the environmental health of the Blackbird Creek/Jackfish Bay ecosystem, just east of Terrace Bay.

In the second part of the meeting a presentation will be made by Paul Turpin of Rossport about locating a train wreck and 106 year old locomotive deep in the waters of Superior. Everyone is welcome and evening events are free of charge.

Blackbird Creek and Jackfish Bay on Lake Superior were designated as one of several Great Lakes areas of environmental concern in 1987. This designation was part of the Remedial Action Plan (RAP), a program put in place by Canada and USA to clean up the Great Lakes.

Blackbird Creek and Jackfish Bay were originally considered to be of concern due to the environmental affects of industrial point source contamination from the pulp and paper industry. The Terrace Bay mill began operation in 1948. Effluent from the mill flows through Blackbird Creek to Jackfish Bay. Substantial upgrades to the mill effluent system have been put in place in more recent years.

“In recovery” status was applied to Blackbird Creek and Jackfish Bay in 2011. Environmental monitoring to gauge the rate of ecosystem recovery has been carried out since 2011. This monitoring data will be presented by representatives of Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change at the October 19th event.

This event is being held by the Jackfish Bay Remedial Action Plan, hosted by Lakehead University’s Department of Geography and Environmental Science. Previous Lake Superior evenings have celebrated the lake through art, music, photography and speakers on topics like lighthouses of the North Shore, diving to Superior shipwrecks and single-handed long distance sailing.

More information about the Jackfish Bay Remedial Action Plan.

 

 

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NY TIMES Feature Article: Great Lakes Voyage

Algoma Equinox
The Algoma Equinox.

A recent article in the New York Times provides an account of a six day voyage from Montreal to Thunder Bay aboard the Great Lakes Freighter Algoma Equinox. The article’s author, Porter Fox, rides as a passenger on the 750 foot vessel operated by Canada’s Algoma Central Corporation.

Fox writes about life on the ship and industries which depend on Great Lakes shipping. He also describes locations along a route traversing a broad swath of North America from Quebec and New York state through to Lake Superior. Every Great Lake, the Welland Canal (bypassing Niagara Falls), the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair, the St. Marys River and the Soo Locks form the backdrop this Great Lakes voyage feature article. Read more…

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Great Swimming Small Part of Larger Temperature Trend

Swimming Superior
Swimming at Neys Provincial Park west of Marathon, Ontario.

If you swam Superior late this summer you will have noticed the warm water temperatures. Infosuperior has heard reports from swimmers utilizing inshore areas deep in protected bays, also from swimmers who have enjoyed Superior’s waters at locations around the tips of the Black Bay and Sibley Peninsulas, which jut well out into Lake Superior on the Canadian side. Reports are all the same, surprisingly warm.

On the U.S. side of Superior at Park Point, on the open lake side of the long sand spit bordering Duluth’s inner harbour, temperatures remained at about 70 degrees F or 21 degrees C for weeks. In fact, the average temperature for the entire lake hit 21 degrees C or 68.5 in late August.

On a related note, small algae blooms have been noted in Lake Superior waters at Meyers Beach, just west of the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin. Examination of samples by microscope showed plenty of blue-green algae.

Superior seems to have exhibited two key themes over the summer, high water levels (about a foot above the long-term average) and warm water temperatures. Also, a major event for Superior was the massive storm which hit the south shore in mid-July. Many will have read of the storms incredible impacts at Saxon Harbour, on the Wisconsin/Michigan border. In addition to the major damage to roads, infrastructure boats and marinas, satellite photos taken after this major rain event showed a massive sediment plume extending well out into Superior, on a very long stretch of the south shore.

A Minnesota Public Radio article provides more information about this summer’s water temperatures, long-term temperature trends and how a given Lake Superior location can change from very warm, to very cold, in a matter of hours.

Related Article: – “What Ice Coverage Means for Fish, Commerce

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Sept. 21st Presentation: Thunder Bay Fish Populations

native_fish
Four of Lake Superior’s native fish species.

The health of Lake Superior fish populations in Thunder Bay will be the central topic on the agenda for the September 21st meeting of the Public Advisory Committee (PAC) to the Thunder Bay Remedial Action Plan. The meeting takes place at 7 p.m. at Lakehead University in Room 3004 of the ATAC building. Everyone is welcome to attend the meeting which is free of charge. Parking is available  close to the ATAC building. Parking is free of charge in the evening at the university.

Eric Berglund of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will be presenting the data on fish populations including information about diversity of species, populations of individual species and also information about size, gender and age. Fish populations in Thunder Bay were originally listed as impaired due to water quality issues in the lower Kaministiquia River resulting in periodic fish kills and a change in fish community structure below and above the Bowater (now Resolute) effluent outfall. Over twenty years have passed since this time and several factors have combined to change this situation. Among these factors are strict environmental regulations which now limit effluent discharges and cessation of river and lake log drives leading to a dramatic reduction in bark and debris, which heavily impacted critical fish habitat.

A representative of the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority will also be attending the meeting to provide an overview of work evaluating wetlands in the McVicar Creek and McIntyre River watersheds, as well as work started this summer to minimize impacts of agriculture on the Slate River.

The meeting agenda and a map of the Lakehead University campus showing the ATAC building is accessible below.

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“Randle Reef” Project Proceeding

A 9′ Environment and Climate Change Canada video provides an overview of the “Randle Reef” cleanup project in Hamilton Harbour on Lake Ontario.

Many Thunder Bay residents are aware of a significant area of mercury contamination in the north portion of Thunder Bay Harbour near the mouth of the Current River. Options for cleanup have been developed but cleanup has not yet taken place.

On Lake Ontario, cleanup is taking place at a site called “Randle Reef.” Thunder Bay residents might be interested in this project as it demonstrates how cleanup is being carried out at another contaminated Great Lakes site. The $139 million project is named after its location in Hamilton Harbour and will address contamination from the steel industry and other sources.
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“Live” Lake Levels Viewer Added to Infosuperior

Go directly to Lake Superior Data on Infosuperior, including the Lake Level Viewer.

Lake Superior water levels provide a topic of conversation close to the heart of anyone close to the lake, especially those regularly out on Superior.

The Infosuperior website provides a broad suite of information and live data about Lake Superior, all conveniently located in one place.  Click the “Tools” tab and proceed to “Lake Data”, “Maps” and “Weather”, each with several links to detailed Lake Superior information.

As of August 31st, 2016, the Lake Superior water level viewer, provided by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has the Lake Superior long-term average at 601.7 ft. The current level is one foot higher at 602.7 ft, while the all-time high is 603.4 ft. The all-time low is 599.5 ft.

A more detailed view of Superior’s lake levels is available on Infosuperior through the “Great Lakes Water Levels Dashboard.” This interactive tool graphically displays current and historic lake levels in comparison to the long-term average. The dashboard is provided by NOAA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

Read about major factors driving lake levels in this related article in Michigan’s Record Eagle.

 

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Go For Data

Stream monitoring
The stream data collection project is an effort to quantify baseline environmental conditions like water flow, water chemistry, fish populations and diversity of species in Canadian north shore streams flowing to Superior.

A posting entitled, “Go for Data” by Lakehead University student researcher Brent Straughan provides the latest update on a 2016 stream data collection project focused on north shore streams flowing to Lake Superior. Lakehead University graduate student Nathan Wilson is the student lead for the project.

Background: Work has been ongoing over the summer on a project to quantify baseline environmental conditions in Lake Superior North shore streams. Data collection is carried out by Lakehead University students to quantify conditions like water flow, water chemistry, fish populations and diversity of species. The project is collecting data on a few dozen streams between Thunder Bay and Marathon. For some of these streams, this is the first time data reflecting baseline conditions has been collected.

A primary research objective is to identify those streams which may have been impacted by activities like resource extraction, construction projects, or road and railway building. Streams which could use a “helping hand” are identified for rehabilitation projects benefiting fish and aquatic populations.

Superior Streams was founded by people who care deeply about the environmental health of area streams and the fishery. This passion has been turned into action by Thunder Bay Stewardship Council members Tom Kleinboeck and Frank Edgson, who first envisioned Superior Streams. A growing record of solid action, projects and volunteer participation aimed at improving the environmental health of area streams has been built upon this original vision.

Superior Streams has been joined by faculty and students of Lakehead University’s Department of Geography and the Environment. Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Geography and the Environment Dr. Rob Stewart leads Lakehead University’s efforts, assisted by Jason Freeburn, department Technician and Reg Nelson, Geospatial Data Centre Technician.

Superior Streams is supported by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry through funds of the Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem (COA), also by Lakehead University.

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