Environment Canada

Environment Canada

October 23, 2009 15:28 ET

Government of Canada Announces Funding for Great Lakes Clean-Up Projects in St. Lawrence River (Cornwall) Area of Concern

CORNWALL, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 23, 2009) - On behalf of Canada's Environment Minister Jim Prentice, Member of Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry, Guy Lauzon, announced today $290,000 in funding from the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund for five projects to clean up the St. Lawrence River (Cornwall) Area of Concern. Thirty-eight projects throughout the Great Lakes are receiving $2.2 million in funding this year.

"The commitment and actions of local communities has been the driving force behind Great Lakes clean-up efforts. We know we've come a long way, but challenges remain. The funding we are announcing today will help to address those challenges and bring us closer to our goal of restoring water quality in the St. Lawrence River and in all of Canada's Great Lakes Areas of Concern," said M.P. Lauzon.

"The Great Lakes Sustainability Fund has proven to be very effective in facilitating the many partnered projects working to restore water quality in the fifteen Canadian Areas of Concern. Here in Cornwall, the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund is being used to fund projects like the Lake St. Francis/St. Lawrence River Tributary Restoration," said Pierre Lemieux, Member of Parliament for Glengarry - Prescott - Russell.

Water quality and fish habitat in the tributaries of the St. Lawrence River and Lake St. Francis have been seriously degraded. Historical and ongoing land use practices have contributed to excessive amounts of nutrients and bacteria in the watershed, sedimentation, channelization and habitat loss. The watershed provides spawning and nursery habitats to northern pike, walleye, small and largemouth bass, muskellunge, yellow perch, pumpkinseeds and forage fish.

"The Government of Canada is taking action to preserve our environment. Together with our partners and with all Canadians, we are helping ensure that Canada's communities and families can thrive in a healthy environment," added Minister Prentice.

"The Tributary Restoration Program's success is the result of the large number of partners and the significant support of Environment Canada and the local agricultural community. This program and beneficial management practices adopted by local landowners over the past 15 years, have contributed to progressive improvements in the waterways throughout the St. Lawrence River (Cornwall) Area of Concern. Ongoing local efforts will be a key component in maintaining the health of our watershed," said Roger Houde, General Manager of the Raisin Region Conservation Authority.

Using the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund, the Government of Canada is partnering with provincial and local governments and community organizations to help clean up the 15 Canadian Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes Basin. The fund supports environmental restoration activities in three priority areas: fish and wildlife habitat rehabilitation and stewardship, contaminated sediment assessment and remediation, and innovative approaches to improve municipal wastewater effluent quality.

More information about the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund is available at sustainabilityfund.gc.ca.


BACKGROUNDER

GREAT LAKES SUSTAINABILITY FUND

In the late 1980s, the International Joint Commission designated 43 Areas of Concern, or "pollution hot spots," within the Great Lakes Basin, based on significant environmental concerns in these areas. Since then, of the 17 Canadian areas, two areas have been fully restored and removed from that list, and one area is being monitored for recovery, because all clean-up actions in the area have been completed but time is required for natural recovery to occur.

While solid progress is being made in cleaning up the remaining Canadian areas, the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund (GLSF) was created to accelerate the work being done to restore the environmental quality of Canada's remaining 14 Areas of Concern.

Restoring Areas of Concern improves water quality, fish and wildlife habitat and population health. Funding is provided to initiatives that meet specific criteria and that serve to restore the environment. Such projects include fish and wildlife habitat restoration, contaminated sediment remediation, landowner stewardship, and control of pollution from municipal wastewaters and rural runoff.

The fund provides technical and financial support to projects that will reduce bacterial contamination of public beaches, an issue that leads to frequent beach closings. Environmental improvements lead to local economic competitiveness through the development of innovative technologies, and increased recreation, tourism and development opportunities in Area of Concern communities.

The fund is administered by Environment Canada in consultation with seven other Government of Canada departments: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Canadian Heritage, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada and Transport Canada.

DELISTED CANADIAN AREAS OF CONCERN:

Severn Sound

Collingwood Harbour

CANADIAN AREA IN RECOVERY:

Spanish Harbour

CANADIAN AREAS OF CONCERN:

Thunder Bay

Nipigon Bay

Jackfish Bay

Peninsula Harbour

Wheatley Harbour

Hamilton Harbour

Toronto and Region

Port Hope Harbour

Bay of Quinte

BINATIONAL AREAS OF CONCERN

St. Lawrence River

Niagara River

St. Marys River

St. Clair River

Detroit River

Solid Progress is being made in the remaining Canadian and Binational Areas of Concern. For further information on the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund, visit sustainabilityfund.gc.ca.


BACKGROUNDER

St. Lawrence River (Cornwall): Great Lakes Area of Concern

As the largest system of fresh surface water in the world, the Great Lakes are fundamental to the health and well-being of those who live within their watersheds and beyond. They provide trade and shipping routes, a source of livelihood, clean water, ecological diversity and natural beauty.

These important ecosystems are facing some challenges. In the mid-1980s, Canada and the U.S. identified 43 locations around the Great Lakes where the environmental quality was more degraded than in other areas. These "hot spots", or Areas of Concern, are the focus of federal, provincial and local efforts to restore the aquatic ecosystem. Ten Areas of Concern are in Canada; five others straddle the Canada-U.S. border. Two Canadian Areas of Concern have completed all their remedial actions and addressed their environmental problems.

The St. Lawrence River (Cornwall) Area of Concern includes a stretch of the St. Lawrence River approximately 80 kilometres long, from the Moses-Saunders power dam (just upstream of Cornwall) to the eastern outlet of Lake St. Francis in Quebec. It is a complex area involving Canada (Ontario and Quebec), the United States (New York State) and Mohawks of Akwesasne.

Historically, contaminants have entered the St. Lawrence River environment from the upper river and Lake Ontario through local industrial and municipal discharges, urban storm-water, agricultural runoff and other diffuse sources such as deposits of contaminants from the atmosphere. Major environmental issues of concern in the area include mercury, PCBs and other contaminants in water, sediments and fish; bacterial contamination leading to beach closings, habitat destruction and degradation, excessive growth of nuisance aquatic plants, and fish and wildlife health impacts.

Sixty-four recommended remedial actions to restore the above environmental conditions were selected through a remedial action planning process, which includes consultation with the public. Many of the actions have already been implemented and substantial progress has been made. Next steps include the upgrade of the City of Cornwall's sewage treatment plant from primary to secondary treatment, which means up to 90 per cent of biodegradable organic material, some metals and solids that would otherwise end up in the watershed will be removed from waste water.

The Government of Canada is taking action to preserve our environment. Together with our provincial, territorial and municipal partners and with all Canadians, we are helping ensure that Canada's communities and families can thrive in a healthy environment. With our partners, we are making great strides to re-establish healthy ecosystems across the Great Lakes Basin.

The 2009-10 project list is available at the following address: http://media3.marketwire.com/docs/project_list_A1023.pdf

(Egalement offert en francais)

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Frederic Baril
    Press Secretary
    819-997-1441
    or
    Environment Canada
    Media Relations
    819-934-8008
    1-888-908-8008
    www.ec.gc.ca