The Highland Creek watershed water quality study 1989-90

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Weselan, Ann Marie
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Ontario Ministry of the Environment

During the summer, fall and winter of 1989-90, the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority, together with the Ministry of the Environment, conducted a water quality study of the Highland Creek watershed. It was thought that the creek was contributing high levels of bacteria to the beach at the Highland Glen Conservation Area. Results revealed that bacteria, total kjeldhal nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the creek were in excess of MOE guidelines. The bacterial pollution, however, was the most extreme and therefore of the greatest concern. Concentrations were highest in the fall when runoff from field tiles was the greatest and contaminated sediments were being disturbed. Levels peaked along the mid-section of the creek where the greatest concentration of livestock farms was found and cattle access was the most prevalent. A few hog farmers upstream of this area were also suspected of bacterial pollution caused by the overspreading of manure. The majority of the bacterial pollution was from animal sources but one polluted tile was found which originated from a house. This was adding considerable amounts of fecal coliform to the creek as well. Although the creek had high bacteria levels, it was not reaching the beach at the time of the beach closure. Past studies of the Plympton Township lakeshore that were carried out by MOE revealed that septic tanks in this area were not functioning properly. Leakage from these tanks could have been contributing to the bacterial contamination. In the fall, a walking survey of the cottages along the lakeshore uncovered two polluted tiles and high bacteria counts at the mouth of Aberarder Creek. Since most of the cottages were not occupied at this time, another survey will be completed in the summer of 1990. The Authority will also keep up to date with the steps that the Ministry of the Environment in taking to remedy this problem.

Ontario Ministry of the Environment
Waste Management Reports
bacteria, fecal coliform, fecal streptococci, bacteria level, bacterial pollution, nitrogen, phosphorus, runoff, livestock, manure application