Some people call it the sixth Great Lake and it is the true headwater of the inland seas. Other than the people who live around it though, few people know much about it. This is Lake Nipigon.
An exploration of this body of water is presented in a new book by Nancy Scott entitled, “Lake Nipigon: Where the Great Lakes Begin.” The book provides geographical, environmental, historical and cultural information about Lake Nipigon through chapters like “Wildlife”, “European Contact”, “Settlements” and “Commercial Fishery” among several others. The book can be purchased through major outlets like Amazon and Chapters. If you would like more information about the book, turn up the speakers on your computer because a recent CBC radio interview provides an excellent overview.
2014 – A Year in Review
North Shore of Lake Superior Remedial Action Plans are supported by Environment Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
Over the past year North Shore of Lake Superior Remedial Action Plan efforts in Thunder Bay and Nipigon Bay have focused on stream rehabilitation, stormwater management, plans to address Thunder Bay North Harbour mercury contamination, beach advisories and increased aboriginal outreach. This email presents a review of 2014 activities.
Thunder Bay Public Advisory Committee (PAC) Meeting (January 8th)
In January, the Thunder Bay PAC met at the Lakehead University Balmoral Centre to review the terms of reference, elect new officers (Jean Hall-Armstrong and Frank Edgson remained as co-chairs), and review the previous year’s activities. The committee also discussed contaminant levels in wildlife, the upcoming EarthCare sustainability plan, and the Blue Communities initiative.
Nipigon Bay PAC Meeting (February 19th)
At the February meeting of the Nipigon Bay PAC the committee received updates on Nipigon’s stormwater management plan and Kama Creek monitoring. The committee also looked at the “Health of Fish Populations” use impairment, reviewed the terms of reference, discussed progress over the previous year and decided upon a PAC chair for 2014 (David Crawford).
Research and Innovation Week (March 1st) – Intercity Mall
The Remedial Action Plan Office participated in Lakehead University’s research and innovation week with a display in the Intercity Mall. The display included both standup and tabletop units that detailed the progress, objectives and successes of the Remedial Action Plan Office in both Thunder Bay and Nipigon Bay.
Thunder Bay PAC Meeting (March 19th)
More than 50 individuals attended the March meeting of the Thunder Bay PAC, which focused on various options for dealing with mercury-contaminated sediment in Thunder Bay North Harbour. Cole Engineering Inc. presented these cleanup options. The contaminated site in question is in the water adjacent to the former Cascades mill near the shipyards and the mouth of the Current River. Meeting input in the form of questions and comments were passed on to the North Harbour Steering Committee to assist in selection of the preferred remediation option.
Nipigon Bay PAC Meeting (April 9th)
At the previous Nipigon Bay PAC meeting, committee members raised some concern over stormwater drainage plans for the new Nipigon River Highway Bridge. At the April meeting representatives from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation provided a presentation as to how bridge stormwater and drainage would be addressed.
Thunder Bay PAC Meeting (May 14th)
The PAC Sediment Sub-committee’s recommendations regarding North Harbour cleanup were presented and reviewed at the May Thunder Bay PAC meeting. Sub-committee recommendations were based on information presented by Cole Engineering at the previous PAC meeting. The sediment subcommittee recommended on-site dredging and disposal of the contaminated material in a new or existing facility utilizing the effluent lagoons already in place at this former mill property. They also strongly recommended that habitat features be incorporated in the design of the facility, similar to habitat implementation completed at the creosote cleanup project at Northern Wood, also in Thunder Bay Harbour. The PAC also received a presentation on the City of Thunder Bay’s Stormwater Management Plan at this meeting.
Stream Rehabilitation Seminar (June 11th) – Centennial Park
The RAP office hosted a stream rehabilitation seminar in June that sought to bring together individuals and organizations concerned about streams that have been degraded by urbanization, industrialization, road building, paving, littering and garbage. The meeting included a tour of Thunder Bay’s Centennial Park George Creek Stream Rehabilitation Project, which was implemented by the North Shore Steelhead Association and partners. An outcome of this meeting was establishment of a group named “Superior Streams” which looks to implement further area stream rehabilitation projects.
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Cities Initiative Annual Meeting (June 18-20th)
This year the City of Thunder Bay hosted the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Cities Initiative’s Annual Meeting (previously referred to as the Great Lakes Mayor’s conference). The Remedial Action Plan Office was in attendance and hosted a display focusing on north shore of Lake Superior Areas of Concern (Thunder Bay, Nipigon Bay, Peninsula Harbour and Jackfish Bay). As part of this conference, the RAP Office also conducted a harbour tour aboard the 40-foot sailing vessel “Frodo.” The tour included stops at several Thunder Bay Harbour remediation sites and an overview of RAP goals, objectives, progress and challenges.
A day before the Mayor’s conference, the United States Geological Survey ship “Kiyi” was in Thunder Bay conducting environmental monitoring. The Remedial Action Plan Office arranged for several university students and Nipigon Mayor Richard Harvey to be on board to observe and participate in monitoring activities. (More information here)
Nipigon Bay Lake Superior Day Hiking Tour (July 20th)
On July 20th the Nipigon Bay RAP hosted a walking tour of the lower Nipigon River to observe sites where RAP work had been completed to address environmental issues. Participants got “up close” with the Nipigon River as they enjoyed a 7-kilometer walk including the Nipigon River lagoon, the Nipigon Municipal Water Pollution Control Plant, Clearwater Creek, the Nipigon River wetlands, and Sawmill point. After the tour participants enjoyed a picnic lunch, asked questions and discussed RAP challenges and progress in efforts to restore environmental quality in Nipigon Bay.
Thunder Bay Lake Superior Day (July 20th)
The Remedial Action Plan Office attended 2014 Lake Superior Day celebrations at the Thunder Bay marina by hosting a display about the Thunder Bay Area of Concern. The display included a timeline, map and explanation of the various RAP harbour remediation efforts.
Lower Nipigon River Kayak Tour (August 17th)
On August 17th paddlers joined Remedial Action Plan staff for a kayak tour of the lower Nipigon River. Participants visited the Nipigon River lagoon, the Nipigon Municipal Water Pollution Control Plant outfall area, Clearwater Creek, the provincially significant Nipigon River wetlands, and Sawmill point. Upon return to the Nipigon marina, participants enjoyed lunch and learned about next steps for the Nipigon Bay Remedial Action Plan, including construction of upgraded municipal wastewater treatment for the Town of Red Rock.
Thunder Bay PAC Meeting (September 10th) – Chippewa Park
Swimming beach advisories have been a long-time subject of concern for the Thunder Bay PAC, particularly those at Chippewa Park’s Main Beach. In September the PAC held a meeting at Chippewa Park providing the opportunity to tour the beach and discuss options and strategies to reduce or eliminate Chippewa beach advisories. The meeting was attended by PAC members, city councillor Ian Angus and city staff from the Parks Division.
Fall Lake Superior Evening (September 16th) – An Evening with Maestro Juan Flores Salazar
On September 16th, in partnership with Blue Sky Community Healing Centre, an aboriginal healing centre, a fall Lake Superior Evening was held. The focus of the event was sharing of indigenous experiences and beliefs about water, the relation of water and land and the role of water in healing our bodies and our communities. Over 100 people attended, participating in a mini pow-wow, feast and discussions with special guest, Maestro Juan Flores Salazar. Maestro Juan Flores is an Ashaninkan healer of the Peruvian Amazon. The Ashaninkan people are an indigenous group of South America whose traditional lands extend through the jungles of Peru and Brazil. Maestro Juan is director and founder of Mayantuyacu, a centre devoted to the study of plant medicine and healing located at the origin of several geothermal hot springs in the heart of the amazon near the city of Pucallpa, Peru. These hotsprings form a river of 95-degree water, which flows into the larger Pachitea River system. Mayantuyacu, meaning spirit of mountain and spirit of water covers a large area and has been considered a sacred site by indigenous communities for centuries. In relating his experiences with the power of water in the Amazon, many participants shared similar experiences living around Lake Superior and other important water sources. The highlight of the evening was the opportunity for indigenous elders and healers from opposite sides of the world to relate their beliefs and cultural practices through the medium of water. (External Link to NetNewsLedger Article)
Nipigon Bay PAC Meeting (October 15th) – Lake Helen Resource Centre
The October meeting of the Nipigon Bay PAC meeting was held at the Lake Helen Community Resource Centre. This was the first time the PAC had met in the home community of the Red Rock Indian Band and the meeting demonstrated potential for future Lake Helen meetings. At this meeting, Environment Canada presented a draft status report on Nipigon Bay highlighting environmental impairments, which have been addressed. An update on the progress of Secondary Treatment at Red Rock was also provided.
Thunder Bay PAC Meeting (November 12th)
At their November meeting the Thunder Bay PAC received two presentations concerning stream rehabilitation and monitoring. First, Frank Edgson presented information on the rehabilitation of the lower portion of George Creek at Centennial Park in Thunder Bay. His presentation showed that young brook trout are using the stream subsequent to the 2013 rehabilitation project. Jamie Saunders of EcoSuperior also updated the committee with details about the McIntyre River monitoring project. This effort aims to study the effects of stormwater inputs on the portion of the McIntyre River between Confederation College and Lakehead University.
Podcast w. Stephanie Swart (December 12th) – Delisting the Deer Lake AOC.
In December Thunder Bay Remedial Plan Coordinator Jim Bailey spoke with Stephanie Swart of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality as part of InfoSuperior’s podcast, or audio interview series. Stephanie has worked with a wide range of organizations and people to restore environmental quality in the Deer Lake Area of Concern near Ishpeming, Michigan. Mercury and excessive inputs of nutrients led to Deer Lake being named an area of environmental concern. In the interview Stephanie outlines the steps taken to restore environmental quality and also the steps necessary to “delist” a Great Lakes Area of Concern.
Thunder Bay’s Kaministiquia River is featured in the latest edition of “Action: Update on Great Lakes Areas of Concern.” The newsletter features projects supported by Environment Canada’s Great Lakes Sustainability Fund. The Kam River project is just one of several mentioned. The project seeks insight into the seasonal movements of walleye in an effort to determine if they are affected by effluent from a large pulp and paper mill on the Thunder Bay waterfront. View the full update utilizing the link above.
The governments of Canada and Ontario have renewed their commitment to restore, protect and conserve the Great Lakes by signing the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health (COA), 2014.
The five-year agreement commits Canada and Ontario to:
- Take action to address algal blooms, including blue-green algae
- Complete actions to clean up historical Areas of Concern including the Niagara River, Nipigon Bay, Peninsula Harbour, the Bay of Quinte and the St. Lawrence River (Cornwall)
- Help prevent aquatic invasive species from entering the lakes
- Protect the lakes from harmful pollutants
- Conserve important fish and wildlife habitats
- Strengthen collaboration with the Great Lakes community
The Great Lakes are vitally important. They are home to many unique ecosystems and species. The Great Lakes also provide us with drinking water, recreation, energy, transportation, and enhance our quality of life. The 2014 COA is the result of negotiations between Canada and Ontario and engagement with the Great Lakes community.
Both governments look forward to continuing to work with the Great Lakes community to protect the Great Lakes, including First Nations and Métis, municipal governments, conservation authorities, non-government organizations, the scientific community, industrial, agricultural, recreational and tourism sectors, and members of the public.
- The Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health (COA) builds on a long history of environmental cooperation between Canada and Ontario and is the eighth of its kind since 1971.
- COA establishes shared Great Lakes priorities among eight federal departments and three Ontario ministries.
- COA identifies time-bounded measurable goals, results and commitments and strengthens cooperation.
- The Great Lakes play a vital role in the physical, social, and economic life of Canada, and support almost 40 per cent of Canada’s economic activity.
- The Great Lakes directly provide drinking water to more than 10 million Ontario residents.