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Track Our Progress

Significant progress has been made in the Niagara River Area of Concern (AOC) since the Remedial Action Plan (RAP) process was first started in 1987. Successes achieved over the past 30 years include significant improvements in water quality, and the clean-up of contaminated sediments.

The Niagara River offers several ecological, recreational and economic beneficial water uses such as power generation, tourism, recreation, is a source of drinking water, and supports over 1200 species (see Niagara River Ecology). When something interferes with the enjoyment of a water use, it’s called a beneficial use impairment or BUI. There are 14 potential BUIs identified in the GLWQA (common to all AOCs) that the RAP Team uses to focus restoration needs, track progress and report on success (Table 1).

Table 1. List of the 14 potential beneficial use impairments noted in Annex 1 of the 2012 GLWQA. The red icons denotes an ‘impaired’ status and Green means there is no impairment.

   1. Restrictions on fish & wildlife* consumption
(*wildlife portion Not Impaired in 2009)
  8.   Eutrophication or undesirable algae
(Not Impaired 2019)
2. Tainting of fish/wildlife flavour (Not Impaired 1993)   9.   Restrictions on drinking water consumption (Not Impaired 1993)
  3. Degradation of fish & wildlife populations   10.  Beach closings
  4. Fish tumours or deformities (Not Impaired 2009)   11.  Degradation of aesthetics (Not Impaired 1993)
  5. Bird/animal deformities or reproduction
(Not Impaired 2009)
  12.  Added costs to agriculture or industry (Not Impaired 1993)
  6. Degradation of benthos   13.  Degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations
(Not Impaired 2019)
  7.  Restriction on dredging activities
(Not Impaired 2009)
  14.  Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat

When taken together, the status of all of the BUIs tell us the overall condition of the Niagara River AOC. For the Ontario side of the AOC, there are currently 5 BUIs that are deemed impaired (red) and 9 that are not impaired (green). The image below gives us a visual representation of the condition on the Niagara River (Ontario) AOC: still impaired but improving as more of the indicators fall to the green side of the scale.

Status of Niagara River BUIs as of May 2019.

What’s left to do?

The goal is to complete actions that will restore the beneficial water uses. Once the required actions are complete for an individual BUI, it is assessed against locally-defined goals. If a status assessment shows that the criteria have been met, then the RAP initiates a re-designation process by which the status of the BUI can be changed (i.e., from impaired to not impaired).

A Niagara River Delisting Strategy is currently being prepared to guide restoration, monitoring, and/or assessment of the remaining BUIs. It is anticipated to be completed in 2021.

About Us

Efforts from many key partners in the RAP Team continue to help complete priority actions for the restoration, protection, and enhancement of the Niagara River ecosystem. This initiative is made possible through the financial support of the Government of Canada and Ontario, in partnership with the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority.

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