Canada's RAP Progress Report 2003
- The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement and Remedial Action Plans (RAPs)
- Severn Sound
- Collingwood Harbour
- Spanish Harbour
- Thunder Bay
- Nipigon Bay
- Jackfish Bay
- Peninsula Harbour
- St. Marys River
- St. Clair River
- Detroit River
- Wheatley Harbour
- Niagara River
- Hamilton Harbour
- Toronto and Region
- Port Hope Harbour
- Bay of Quinte
- St. Lawrence River (Cornwall)
- List of Acronyms
- Figure 1 - Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin
- Table 1 - Status of Beneficial Use Impairments in Canadian Areas of Concern. January, 2003
The Detroit River is the 51 kilometre connecting channel between Lake St.Clair and Lake Erie. The binational AOC includes the Detroit River and its watersheds covering an area over 2000 square kilometres including the City of Detroit ”sewershed” area. The AOC is home to more than 4 million people with population concentrated in the cities of Detroit, MI and Windsor, ON. Nearly 100 communities rely on the river as a source of drinking water. Seventy-six industries and ten municipalities discharge waste water into the river or its tributaries. Detroit is the busiest port in the Great Lakes and the river is used extensively for navigation. The largest tributary on the U.S. side is the Rouge River, draining more than half of the watershed. Agriculture is a major activity in the watershed. Greater than 50 per cent of the Canadian shoreline is occupied with industrial, commercial and residential development and consequently the abundance and variety of fish and wildlife have declined. The largest tributary on the Canadian side is the Canard River.
Since the Rouge River is also a U.S. AOC and has developed its own Remedial Action Plan (RAP) it is treated as a point source for the Detroit RAP.
The RAP has identified nine beneficial use impairments in the Detroit River (see Table 1). There are sportfish fish consumption advisories in both Ontario and Michigan. Some fish have tumours and their flavour is tainted. The quality of bottom-dwelling animal communities has declined, and some animals have deformities and/or reproductive problems. Fish and wildlife populations have declined, habitat is endangered and significant amounts of it have been lost. Dredging activities are restricted because sediments are contaminated by toxic chemicals. There are taste and odour problems with drinking water. Public beaches are closed at times and the overall aesthetic value of the river is low. Water quality objectives are exceeded.
The known causes of impairments are historical and current industrial activity, agricultural practices and urban development in the watershed. Combined sewer overflows (CSOs), sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and municipal and industrial discharges are major sources of contaminants within the AOC. Stormwater runoff into tributaries in Michigan is also a major source of contaminants. Due to the high volumes of water entering the river via Lake St. Clair, upstream sources also contribute considerable loads of contaminants to the AOC. The river is the single largest source of contaminants to Lake Erie.
Additional environmental concerns include the presence of exotic species, changes in the fish community structure, and reductions in wildlife populations. AOC problems are less severe on the Canadian side, but a major restoration effort is still required.
The Detroit River RAP was drafted in 1996 by professionals and community representatives to address the environmental issues associated with the Detroit River. Implementation of the RAP will require addressing over 100 recommendations in the binational AOC. The goal of ecosystem restoration is to achieve a standard that will provide a safe, clean, and self-sustaining natural environment, such that
A Binational Public Advisory Committee (BPAC) was in place during the years of RAP development (1987-1996). Unfortunately, differences of opinion led to some members of the Binational Public Advisory Committee leaving the process. This temporarily stalled progress in the Detroit River AOC. In 1998, the process was re-established and a new partnership was created among the four principal government agencies. The Four Party Letter of Agreement was signed for the Detroit River and the other connecting channels, St. Clair and St. Marys Rivers, to coordinate efforts leading to implementation and eventual delisting for each AOC (see sidebar in St. Clair River section).
In 1998, the public process was reinvigorated in Canada with the formation of the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup Committee (DRCCC). This group was established to cleanup, enhance and sustain the ecosystem of the Detroit River and its watersheds. DRCCC is a community based partnership of industry, government, academic, environmental and community organizations with an interest or mandate in the environmental quality of the Detroit River and its watershed. Its sub committees conduct the work in specific issue areas: contaminated sediments; combined sewer overflows; point source pollution; non-point source pollution remediation; habitat; and, public involvement and communication. Environment Canada and the Ontario MOE provide monetary and staff support to the DRCCC.
A parallel organization to DRCCC has been formed in Michigan and distinct RAP implementation frameworks have been developed for the Canadian and American sides of the Detroit River AOC that reflect local needs.
The 1996 RAP made 31 priority recommendations for the Canadian portion of the AOC. Programs and projects have been undertaken or completed in 21 of these areas and planning is underway for the remainder. To date, over 70 restoration projects have been undertaken or supported by various DRCCC stakeholders and partners.
Since 1990, the GLSF has contributed $ 3.6M in support of 31 projects to restore impaired beneficial uses in the Detroit River AOC. The partnerships created have realized over $6M in direct partner funding, with partner in-kind contribution and personnel participation valued at nearly $3M. Habitat followed by non-point source projects are the two areas with the largest contributions.
The Windsor Riverfront Pollution Control Planning Study was completed and adopted by the City. This $1M study (funded jointly by the City, MOE and EC) developed an implementation strategy for the Riverfront Districts which satisfies regulatory guidelines for CSO control and would reduce the pollutant loading to the Detroit River to levels consistent with the RAP objectives.
Notable environmental successes have included:
Major DRCCC projects which have received funding include: the Detroit River Rural Non-Point Source Remediation Program; the Windsor Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Effluent Characterization and Modeling Project; Biodiversity Conservation Strategy Implementation; Detroit River Shoreline Habitat Enhancement Plans Project; and various Shoreline Stabilization, Habitat Enhancement and Restoration projects throughout the watershed.
There is a recognized need for agencies to communicate and work more cooperatively on binational issues such as monitoring, progress reporting and public involvement and outreach. The development of binational delisting criteria led by the Detroit River Canadian Cleanup Committee is expected to be finalized in 2003.
Significant investment is required for major capital works to restore impairments on the Canadian side of the Detroit River AOC. For example, the total estimated cost for upgrading the West Windsor Pollution Control Plant to secondary treatment, eliminating combined sewer overflows and controlling stormwater runoff is $184M. The City has requested one-third funding from both the federal and provincial governments. To date, approximately $30M has been secured to upgrade the Wastewater Pollution Control Plant (WWPCP) with contributions from federal, provincial and municipal governments.
Habitat and non-point source strategies have been developed and are being implemented. The GLSF has identified ongoing rural non-point source pollution control, implementation of the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy; and sediment remediation as candidate areas for its support.
The Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER) at the University of Windsor has completed a modeling study of the entire Detroit River. This ”Data Management and Modeling Framework for the Detroit River” will be used to help formulate and guide cleanup objectives. The project has produced three interrelated components: a Environmental Update Report describing the current environmental health of the river; a Data Compendium of trends and ecosystem linkages; and, a Geographic Information System (GIS) and Decision Support System to quantify contaminant loadings from the Canadian side of the river.
RELATED U.S. ACTIVITIES
In response to USEPA rules regarding total maximum daily loadings (TMDLs) to receiving waters, the City of Detroit is actively pursing source trackdown of PCBs within its sewershed.
Considerable effort is being directed towards the task of CSO remediation in Michigan. Scheduled projects on the horizon include upstream CSO treatment, constructing detention basins at various locations, installing storage dams in major sewers (at 33 sites) by 2004/05, and treatment of Rouge River CSOs by 2012.
The Detroit River is the first river with a binational heritage designation. The Detroit River was designated as an American Heritage River in 1998 and a Canadian Heritage River in 2000. RAP implementation is a significant tool described within the Canadian Heritage River vision.
A Four Party Letter of Agreement has been signed by agencies and parallel stakeholder groups have been established. These will be used to strengthen binational cooperation. Broader public involvement and community support are also needed to move the implementation process forward. Efforts to develop a binational delisting framework have been productive and agency agreement on criteria is likely.
On the Canadian side of the Detroit River, federal actions for certain BUIs may be may be completed within a few years. Continued funding support and attention will be needed for the development of fish management plans for watersheds, identification of habitat goals and implementation of a biodiversity conservation strategy. Given the magnitude of the loading of persistent bioaccumulative toxic substances to the river, regular monitoring of sources, contaminant levels in water, sediments and biota together with toxicity testing is necessary.
Delisting on the U.S. side is not expected to occur in the near term. Dredging and removal of highly contaminated bottom sediments associated with current and historical industrial activity will require large funding allocations. Remediation of six sites in the Detroit River/Trenton Channel are targeted and their remediation is contingent on negotiation of an acceptable disposal site. Control of current U.S. sources will also be necessary to prevent recontamination of dredged locations.
- Date Modified: