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The Bear Creek watershed water quality study 1988-89

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Title: The Bear Creek watershed water quality study 1988-89
Author: Quinlan, Cathleen M.
Abstract: During the summer, fall and winter of 1988/1989, the microbiological and chemical quality of the water in Bear Creek upstream of the Warwick Conservation Area was assessed. The results indicate that the watercourse is carrying unacceptably high levels of bacteria, Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen, and phosphorus. In general, levels of bacteria were highest during the summer and early fall where they were present at approximately five to eight times the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) objectives for safe water. Fecal coliform levels at Warwick Conservation Area beach were also excessive during this period, coinciding with conditions in the creek. This watershed was examined to investigate the influence of intensive farm operations, namely hog farms, on water quality. This area of Lambton County has been the source of numerous reports of pig manure spills over the years. Weekly water sampling combined with a walking survey of the watercourse and interviews with local farmers, revealed several sources or suspected sources of the pollution. The sources are widespread throughout the watershed. Of the 10 tile outlets which were sampled and found to be polluted, 4 appeared to be from household septic systems, another 4 from agricultural fields, and another 2 from agricultural fields and barnyards. Thus, human and animal wastes are reaching the creek. Stretches of the watercourse which recorded regularly high levels include the Perry Drain in the south part of the watershed, the mid-section of Bear Creek, the Zavitz Drain at the north end, and the Ross-Hall Drain in the north-east end. Farmers appear to be acting in good faith by applying manure within OMAF guidelines. The average application rates were reported and calculated to be 3,000 to 4,000 gallons per acre. These figures undoubtedly vary widely depending on the time of year and the acreage on which the manure is spread. More than half of the farmers did not have 6 months storage and almost 60% were still applying manure in the winter months on frozen ground. Only half of the Dairy farmers had proper wash water treatment facilities. A little over one quarter of the farmers may be over-fertilizing . Conservation tillage practices, buffer strips along drains, and windbreaks are not widely used in this watershed. However, there does appear to be a growing awareness and concern for the environment and the price tag it can carry.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/15598
Date: 1989
Rights: Queen's Printer for Ontario, Crown Copyright, Non-Commercial Use Permitted
Rights Holder: Queen's Printer for Ontario


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