Severn Sound Delisted Area of Concern
Severn Sound is located in southeastern Georgian Bay and includes Penetang, Midland, Hog, Sturgeon, and Matchedash Bays with significant population centers in Midland and Penetanguishene. The watershed covers an area of 1 098 square kilometres and includes many forests, wetlands, farms, sandy beaches, thousands of islands and small secluded bays.
Why was this area listed?
Major environmental issues of concern in the area included: eutrophication, and excessive algal production as a result of sewage treatment plant (STP) inputs, agricultural activities, shoreline development and other sources. This problem was especially evident in the constricted embayments on the south shore of the Sound. Additional concerns included changes in fish communities and habitat loss.
What was done? How was it done?
In order to improve the environmental conditions noted above, a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) was developed for Severn Sound. The Severn Sound RAP was a partnership between the federal and provincial governments with cooperation from the Public Advisory Committee (PAC). The PAC was a group of citizens who represented industry, labour, municipal agencies, farmers, environmental organizations and recreational groups.
This plan, which was initiated in 1987, involved the following steps:
- defining the problem
- planning for implementation
- implementing the actions
- monitoring the restoration of the environment
Nine general categories of recommended remedial actions to restore the above environmental conditions were selected through the RAP process, which included consultation with the public. The RAP team implemented these recommendations, followed by an evaluation period. It was determined that the environmental concerns had been restored and that Severn Sound should no longer be considered an Area of Concern.
The Stage Three RAP document was submitted to the federal and provincial environment ministers in June 2002. With the support of the International Joint Commission (IJC), the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario removed Severn Sound from the list of Areas of Concern in January 2003.
Highlight of the RAP
The Severn Sound Environmental Association was formally established on May 2, 1997, to support the work of the RAP. The goal of the organization was to provide community based, cost-effective environmental management for the Severn Sound area, which sustained the improvements achieved through the RAP process. The Association coordinated projects such as sewage treatment plant upgrades, farm pollution control projects, stormwater treatment studies, tree planting, shoreline restoration and ecosystem monitoring, and provided a public information service on environmental issues. Partners included the Town of Midland, Town of Penetanguishene, Townships of Tiny, Tay, Springwater, Oro-Medonte, Georgian Bay, Severn and the Friends of the Wye Marsh.
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