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Archive for the ‘Studies’ Category

Assessing landscape and contaminant point-sources as spatial determinants of water quality in the Vermilion River System, Ontario, Canada

As part of the Lower Vermilion Source Water Quality Monitoring Project, funded through a 3-year Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, Carrie Strangway completed her Master’s Thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a degree of Master of Science in the Faculty of Science, Applied Bioscience, University of Ontario Institute of Technology.  What follows is Carrie’s published Thesis:

Abstract The Vermilion River and major tributaries (VRMT) are located in the Vermilion watershed (4272 km2) in north-central Ontario, Canada. This watershed not only is dominated by natural land-cover but also has a legacy of mining and other development activities. The VRMTreceive various point (e.g., sewage effluent) and non-point (e.g., mining activity runoff) inputs, in addition to flow regulation features.

Further development in the Vermilion watershed has been proposed, raising concerns about cumulative impacts to ecosystem health in the VRMT. Due to the lack of historical assessments on riverine-health in the VRMT, a comprehensive suite of water quality parameters was collected monthly at 28 sites during the ice-free period of 2013 and 2014. Canadian water quality guidelines and objectives were not met by an assortment of water quality parameters, including nutrients and metals. This demonstrates that the VRMT is an impacted system with several pollution hotspots, particularly downstream of wastewater treatment facilities. Water quality throughout the river system appeared to be influenced by three distinct land-cover categories: forest, barren, and agriculture.

Three spatial pathway models (geographical, topographical, and river network) were employed to assess the complex interactions between spatial pathways, stressors, and water quality condition. Topographical landscape analyses were performed at five different scales, where the strongest relationships between water quality and land-use occurred at the catchment scale. Sites on the main stem of Junction Creek, a tributary impacted by industrial and urban development, had above average concentrations for the majority of water quality parameters measured, including metals and nitrogen. The river network pathway (i.e., asymmetric eigenvector map (AEM)) and topographical feature (i.e., catchment land-use) models explained most of the variation in water quality (62.2%), indicating that they may be useful tools in assessing the spatial determinants of water quality decline. Read the rest of this entry »

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Lower Vermilion Water Quality Monitoring Project – VRS presentation to Vale

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Spatial-determinants of deteriorating water quality in the Vermilion River, by Carrie Strangway, UOIT

As part of the Lower Vermilion Source Water Quality Monitoring Project, funded through a 3-year Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, Carrie Strangway completed her Master’s Thesis in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a degree of Master of Science in the Faculty of Science, Applied Bioscience, University of Ontario Institute of Technology.  What follows is a poster of her more detailed manuscript, which will be published shortly:

Abstract 

The Vermilion River and major tributaries (VRMT) receive various point and non-point inputs, in addition to several flow regulation features, along their continuum. Further development in the Vermilion watershed has been proposed, raising concerns about cumulative impacts to the ecological health of the VRMT. To assess the current state of riverine health, water quality metrics were monitored monthly at twenty-eight sites during the ice-free period of 2013 and 2014. Generation of landscape-scale data revealed a broad range of land-cover and road density in the watershed at differing landscape-scales. Sites on the main-stem of the Junction tributary had above average concentrations for the majority of water quality parameters measured, specifically, sites within Copper Cliff Creek and Junction Creek (i.e. CC- 12 and JUN-13) were the most impacted. The river network pathway (i.e. asymmetric eigenvector map (AEM) eigenfunctions) and topographical features (i.e. catchment land-use) explained most of the variation in water quality (62.2%), thus both proved to be useful spatial determinates of deteriorating water quality.

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Vermilion River Watershed – Greater Sudbury Watershed Studies

VRS is recommending that a portion of the funding be assigned to a Master Watershed Study for the Vermilion River Watershed. This study would take a big picture perspective, and consider the cumulative effects that development, stormwater runoff, and wastewater and mining effluent are having on the Vermilion River. This would better inform potential mitigation measures required for the subwatersheds contained within it.

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Ramsey Lake Subwatershed Terms of Reference

The Vermilion River Stewardship (VRS), is grateful for this opportunity to comment on the draft Terms of Reference (ToR) for the Ramsey Lake Watershed Study; however, the short deadline for comments has made it challenging to make a thorough review.  VRS requests that a minimum comment period of 30 days be provided in all future requests for public feedback.  This would allow for an adequate opportunity to review and prepare a comprehensive and meaningful submission.

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Lower Vermilion Source Water Quality Monitoring Project – Final Report, by VRS

This is the result of a 3 year water quality sampling project on the Lower Vermilion River, within the Vermilion River Watershed.

A big thank you to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for funding this important Project!!

Another big thank you goes out to KGHM International Ltd. for their generous donation and for Conservation Sudbury’s in-kind contribution towards the extension of our Project into the 3rd year!!

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Vermilion River Phytoplankton Study – Presentation by Carrie Strangway, UOIT

Presentation made by Carrie Strangway at Vermilion River Stewardship’s General Meeting on 14 October 2015.

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Vermilion River Water Quality – Presentation by Anoop Naik

Presentation by Anoop Naik, Conservation Sudbury, at Vermilion River Stewardship General Meeting, on 9 March 2016:

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PRESS RELEASE – Lower Vermilion Water Quality Project extended into its 3rd Year

PRESS RELEASE – Lower Vermilion Water Quality Project extended into its 3rd Year

We are very grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation, KGHM International Inc. and Conservation Sudbury for supporting our organization and community in this important Project.  The health of the Vermilion River is very important to the thousands of people who rely on it for their drinking water, recreation, and family enjoyment” said VRS Chair, Linda Heron.

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Recovery of Chironomidae from metal contamination in a multi-stressor environment, by Zara Jennings, 4th year Thesis

Queen’s University student, Zara Jennings

In 2013, Zara Jennings, a Queen’s University 4th year student and her professor, Brian Cummings, undertook sediment core sampling on Wabagishik Lake.  Results indicated that the heavy metal contamination has steadily improved over the years; however,  heavy metal contamination is still well into the “severe effect level” and severe contamination lies within centimeters of the sediment surface.   Heavy metal contamination in the “severe effect level”, include nickel, copper, arsenic, lead, manganese, iron, cadmium and zinc.  Zara has provided an outstanding 4th year Thesis that will be a major part of the final project report for our 2-year Lower Vermilion Source Water Quality Monitoring study.

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THANK YOU ONTARIO TRILLIUM FOUNDATION, KGHM INTERNATIONAL & CONSERVATION SUDBURY FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!!

The Lower Vermilion Source Water Quality Program is a 3 year study to characterize the lower Vermilion River to identify all negative inputs and outputs affecting water quality, and to ultimately recommend a course of action to protect and restore water quality on the Vermilion River system.