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6. Challenges/Issues

Water Quality

  • Surface chemistry water quality rating in Irish Creek is “Good” (2009 to 2014) and has improved from a “Fair” rating in the 2003-2008 reporting period. While elevated total Kjeldahl nitrogen is a feature of Irish Creek, nutrients and E. coli counts have decreased between the two monitoring periods
  • Instream biological water quality conditions at the Irish Creek sample location range from “Very Poor” to “Poor” from 2003 to 2014 (using a grading scheme developed by Ontario Conservation Authorities in Ontario for benthic invertebrates) with an overall rating of “Poor” from 2003 to 2014 as the samples are dominated by species that are tolerant of high organic pollution levels

Shorelines

  • The riparian buffer along Irish Creek catchment (30 m. wide strip along the shoreline of all lakes and streams) is comprised of wetland (53 percent), crop and pastureland (25 percent), woodland (18 percent), roads (two percent) and settlement areas (two percent) and (at 71 percent) is below the recommended target to maintain a minimum 30 metre wide, naturally vegetated buffer along at least 75 percent of the length of both sides of rivers, creeks and streams
  • Emerald ash borer poses a significant threat to the ecology of the subwatershed, given the prominence of ash trees along shorelines in riparian and wetland areas. Many tree stands are predominantly ash and with their anticipated loss, it is unclear what will replace them and the overall effect of their collective demise on the physical and natural functions/values they provide for erosion, water quality and fish and wildlife habitat protection

Land Cover

  • The catchment contains 1213 ha of unevaluated wetland (occupying seven percent of its total area) that provides many important social, hydrological, biological and ecological functions/services. Although not under imminent threat from development activity, they do remain vulnerable to drainage and land clearing activities in the absence of any regulatory and planning controls that would otherwise protect them

Water Levels

  • Despite ongoing seepage through the earth berm and fractured bedrock, the Bellamy Lake Dam has had no major structural failure. However, the seepage does mean that the spillway structure toward the north end of the berm does not fully control the water level of the lake. This could mean that, in a drought, lake levels would decline, potentially damaging the fish population and certainly limiting the enjoyment of the lake by its residents and others who use the recreational facilities at the Bellamy Park campground