Environment Canada

Environment Canada

April 23, 2008 11:21 ET

Government of Canada Takes Action to Clean-Up the Niagara River-Nicholson, Allison and Dykstra Deliver for Niagara Region

FORT ERIE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 23, 2008) - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., Member of Parliament for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Dean Allison, Member of Parliament for Niagara West-Glanbrook, and Rick Dykstra, Member of Parliament for St. Catharines announced today that the Government of Canada is investing up to $2.9 million to clean up the Niagara River. The announcement is further evidence of the action the Government is taking to clean up the Great Lakes.

"Our Government understands that Canadians want to see real progress in restoring the Great Lakes," said Minister Nicholson. "For too long, environmental hot spots in the Great Lakes like the Niagara River have been waiting for action. That day of action is here. The clean up of the Niagara River is essential to the economy, the health and the well-being of residents of the Niagara area, and is further proof that cleaning up Canadian waters is a priority for this Government."

Consultations with the local communities are already underway to explore clean-up options for the Niagara River. This could include excavation, infilling, restoration of wetlands or monitored natural recovery. The clean-up project will begin in 2009 and be completed by 2012.

"By taking action to clean up the contaminated sediment, our Government is taking a major step forward towards addressing local water quality issues," said Mr. Allison. "Together with our project stakeholders, we are working toward ensuring a healthy and sustainable future for the nearly half-million citizens in the Niagara Region who rely on the river for drinking water."

This major investment to clean up the Niagara River is part of the Government of Canada's Action Plan for Clean Water. Recently, the Government has also taken action to protect water quality, including tough new regulations against the dumping of raw sewage and improving raw sewage treatment in municipalities and first nation communities across Canada. These measures will help filter out substances like phosphates, which can lead to excessive blue-green algae production.

"Our Government is committed to clean water and to delivering results for Canadians," added Mr. Dykstra. "The work being taken to improve the Niagara River will produce not only a cleaner environment, but will also increase recreational values of the local fishery."

BACKGROUNDER

CLEANING UP THE NIAGARA RIVER-PART OF THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA'S ACTION PLAN ON CLEAN WATER

With an investment of up to $2.9 million, our Government is taking real action to clean up a severely contaminated site within the Great Lakes - Niagara River. Through this commitment, the Government of Canada is addressing the principal sediment challenge facing the Niagara River Area of Concern, the remediation of contaminated sediment in a tributary of the Niagara River, Lyons Creek.

The Niagara River is the major waterway interconnecting Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Flowing north from Lake Erie, the Niagara River flows for a distance of 58 kilometres to Lake Ontario. Extending along the entire length of the Canadian side of the Niagara River, including Niagara Falls and the Welland River Watershed, the Niagara River accounts for 83% of the water flowing into Lake Ontario, and therefore significantly influences Lake Ontario's water quality and fish productivity.

Assessments of Lyons Creek identify elevated concentrations of PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls), arsenic and zinc in sediment and stream banks of Lyons Creek West, and PCBs in Lyons Creek East. Human Health Risk Assessments concluded negligible risks due to skin exposure to PCBs and to fish consumption for Lyons Creek East. Risk to human health from arsenic-contaminated sediment along Lyons Creek West was eliminated when the local industry remediated the site in 2007. Ecological Risk Assessment studies for Lyons Creek East and West confirmed the need for sediment management.

The Government of Canada is consulting the local public on the management options. We expect that local stakeholders will lead the next phase of the project which is to select and implement the preferred management option(s) of these areas. Potential options for Lyons Creek West and Lyons Creek East could include excavation and/or infilling, possible restoration of wetlands or monitored natural recovery. We expect to begin clean-up project in 2009 and complete it by 2012.

Areas of Concern are severely degraded geographic areas within the Great Lakes Basin. Restoring environmental quality is a priority due to their impact on local and basin-wide ecosystem health. In August 2007, the governments of Canada and Ontario announced the 2007 Canada-Ontario Agreement Respecting the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. The Agreement focuses on cleaning up the remaining 15 Canadian Areas of Concern in the Great Lakes. The Niagara River Area of Concern clean up is part of the Government of Canada's Action Plan for Clean Water and its goal of ensuring that all Canadians have access to clean, safe and healthy water.

(Egalement offert en francais)

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of the Environment
    Eric Richer
    Press Secretary
    819-997-1441
    or
    Environment Canada
    Media Relations
    819-934-8008 or
    1-888-908-8008