Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan 2006 - April 22, 2006
Executive Summary (LaMP 2006)
This Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan Status 2006 is the
latest, comprehensive compilation of existing LaMP reports, and
replaces the 2004 Status. The document contains new/updated
information on the current status of beneficial use impairments,
sources and loads of critical pollutants, public involvement and
communication and significant ongoing and emerging issues. The
report also provides an update on LaMP workplan actions and progress
and next steps. Most of the chapters in this document have been
updated and other chapters will be updated at a later date, as new
information becomes available.
In 1987, the governments of Canada and the United States made a
commitment, as part of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA),
to develop a Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP) for each of the five
The Lake Ontario LaMP is a binational, cooperative effort to restore
and protect the health of Lake Ontario by reducing chemical
pollutants entering the lake and addressing the biological and
physical factors impacting the lake.
Building on the Lake Ontario Toxics Management Plan (1989, 1991,
1993), the Lake Ontario LaMP focuses on:
- Restoring lakewide beneficial use impairments, as defined in
the GLWQA (Annex 2) and described in Chapter 4 of this LaMP;
- Virtually eliminating critical pollutants that due to their
toxicity, persistence in the environment, and their ability to
accumulate in organisms are likely to contribute to these
impairments despite past application of regulatory controls; and
- Resolving physical and biological problems caused by human
The LaMP 2006 Status for Lake Ontario has been developed by
Region 2 of the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA),
Environment Canada (EC), the New York State Department of
Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), The Ontario Ministry of the
Environment (OMOE), the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR),
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), and the US Fish and Wildlife
Service (USF&W). The document incorporates all relevant
information/commitments from: the Lake Ontario Toxics Management
Plan (1989, 1991, 1993), the Lake Ontario LaMP Stage 1 Report
(1998), the Lake Ontario LaMP 2002 Biennial Report, and the Lake
Ontario LaMP 2004 Status. In addition, the following chapters of the
LaMP have been updated:
The primary audience for this document is government agencies and
their partners who are involved directly in restoration and
protection activities around the Lake. LaMP Status also responds to
the reporting requirement to the IJC under the Great Lakes Water
Quality Agreement (GLWQA). Update newsletter is prepared annually by
the LaMP Agencies to inform the public about developments and
progress on LaMP Program activities.
LaMP 2006 Highlights
Background (Chapter 2)
- In 2004, the membership of the LaMP was expanded to include
Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the US Fish and Wildlife
Service (USF&W) and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR).
The participation of these agencies has allowed better
integration of fish and wildlife objectives and indicators into
- Information on the demographics and economy of the basin,
and the status of aquatic communities of Lake Ontario has been
updated to reflect current conditions.
Identification of Beneficial Use Impairment Assessments
- Status reports for each of 14 Beneficial Use Impairments
(BUI) identified in the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement
(1987) have been updated including a brief account of the LaMP’s
original determination of their status.
- In 2005, the status of the Degradation of Fish Populations
BUI was reviewed, as recent data and scientific interpretation
clearly showed the offshore to be impaired due primarily to the
impacts of non-native species. Research into the re-introduction
of Atlantic salmon and deep water ciscos, as well as food
quality issues including thiamin deficiency, are key action
items currently underway that directly address the impaired fish
- No previously impaired beneficial uses have changed status.
Benthos and phytoplankton (nearshore) are deemed impaired mainly
due to the impacts of non-native species. Several projects on
the lower foodweb and benthos status have been completed or are
continuing in order to assess the impacts of these non-native
species on the near and offshore ecosystems. The LaMP directly
participated in the Lake Ontario Lower Aquatic Foodweb
Assessment project (LOLA) and results of this project should be
available in 2006.
- Contaminant levels have declined in bald eagles, colonial
waterbirds, mink, otter and snapping turtles, and healthy
populations of these animals exist around much of Lake Ontario
where habitat is suitable. The exception is in the Golden
Horseshoe area (western end of Lake Ontario) where contaminant
issues still exist for mink and snapping turtles. For most
species, physical habitat quality and loss are now greater
concerns, however, disease issues like botulism may also have a
negative impact on fish and wildlife.
- The zooplankton BUI (which is listed as not impaired) is
currently under review by the LaMP member agencies.
Sources and Loads of Critical Pollutants (Chapter 6)
- The sources and loadings of critical pollutants (i.e.
bioacumulative and persistent toxic substances that are known or
suspected to be responsible for lakewide impairments of
beneficial uses) to Lake Ontario were updated, based on the best
data available. For Lake Ontario, these substances, which
include, DDT and its metabolites, dieldrin, dioxins/furans,
mercury, mirex and PCBs, are the focus of LaMP source reduction
- Previously, the LaMP reported that, based on the very
limited loadings data available, it appeared that the most
significant source of critical pollutants to Lake Ontario come
from outside the Lake Ontario basin, specifically the Niagara
River Basin and upstream lakes. Based on the current, although
still very limited loadings data available, it appears that the
upstream Great Lakes are still a significant source of critical
pollutants and are now equaled in magnitude by atmospheric
deposition from emissions both within and outside the Lake
- The chapter also describes the status of selected actions
taken by LaMP Parties to address known and potential sources of
critical pollutants throughout the Lake Ontario basin, in
keeping with the LaMP’s sources and loadings strategy. Updates
are provided on the following binational activities: the Niagara
River Toxics Management Plan (NRTMP); the Lake Ontario Air
Deposition Study (LOADS); the Great Lakes Binational Toxics
Strategy; the Binational Sediment Workshop; and Lake Ontario
Mass Balance Models.
- U.S. government activities which have been undertaken to
address sources of critical pollutants include: contaminant
trackdown; NYSDEC’s Comprehensive Watershed Restoration and
Protection Action Strategies (WRAPS); implementation of the
Great Lakes Water Quality Guidance; and development of a
watershed-based, pollutant management tool known as ‘total
maximum daily load” (TMDL). In addition many pollution
prevention partnership activities have been implemented on the
U.S. side such as: mercury reduction projects in hospitals and
dental offices; and agricultural pesticide clean sweeps.
- Canadian government activities have focused on: contaminant
trackdown in three pilot watersheds, Twelve Mile Creek,
Etobicoke Creek, and Cataraqui River, where elevated PCB levels
were found to exist; and screening level surveys of all Lake
Ontario tributaries. Pollution prevention partnership activities
that were undertaken on the Canadian side include: burn barrel
and household garbage burning community education programs;
mercury “switch-out” project with auto recyclers; a pilot
mercury appliance switch collection program; launching of a
mercury- dental clean sweep; and agricultural pesticide clean
Public Involvement and Communication (Chapter 9)
- In June 2005 the LaMP hosted a public information session at
the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes in Kingston, Ontario, timed
to coincide with the International Joint Commission (IJC)
Biennial Meeting. The theme topic of the meeting was stewardship
and included presentations by the LaMP and from the “Centre for
Sustainable Watersheds” and the “Finger Lakes - Lake Ontario
Watershed Protection Alliance.” In 2006 the LaMP will host a
joint public meeting with the Niagara River Toxics Management
Plan. The meeting will be held on October 26, 2006 in Niagara
Falls, New York.
- Providing the public with a sound understanding of the
complex problems facing the Lake is the first step in gaining
public support and participation in achieving the LaMP’s goals.
Ongoing and planned activities include opportunities to meet
with existing groups, forming partnerships locally to assist in
LaMP projects and providing information when requested and
regularly through the LaMP website and mailings. Stewardship of
the Lake will be emphasized at future partnership meetings. The
LaMP will continue to inform the public through reporting and
public meetings, and will participate in other meetings such as
SOLEC and the International Joint Commission (IJC) biennial
Significant Ongoing and Emerging Issues (Chapter 10)
- Significant ongoing issues facing Lake Ontario include: the
protection and restoration of native species (lake trout and
American eel); the prevention of introduction of new non-native
species like Asian carp; the continuing colonization of the lake
and connected waterbodies by non-native species like zebra and
quagga mussels, fishhook / spiny waterfleas, and round gobies;
and artificial control of Lake Ontario water levels.
- Emerging issues (i.e., issues that are relatively new to
Lake Ontario and may warrant the LaMP’s attention) include: the
rapid urbanization of the western end of Lake Ontario (the
“Golden Horseshoe); emerging chemicals of concern (flame
retardants (PBDEs, HCBD), perfluorinated compounds (PFOS, PFOA),
polychlorinated naphthalenes (PCNs), and other emerging
chemicals including endocrine disrupting compounds,
pharmaceuticals and personal care products); fish and wildlife
diseases; type E botulism; and harmful algal blooms.
LaMP Workplan Actions and Progress (Chapter 12)
- In January 2005 the LaMP Parties developed a new 5-year
binational workplan for the Lake Ontario LaMP. The workplan
outlines binational efforts to restore and protect Lake Ontario
and its biological resources. Table 12.1 summarizes the actions
and progress made in all the workplan activities as of
December 31, 2005. The full 5-year workplan can be found in
Appendix D of this report.
LaMP Next Steps (Chapter 13)
The LaMP Parties will continue their cooperative efforts towards
the restoration and protection of Lake Ontario and its ecosystem. In
the upcoming years, special attention will be concentrated on the
- Coordination of binational monitoring efforts and programs
to better assess the health of Lake Ontario and its ecosystem.
Planning is underway to continue the data analysis from the
binational monitoring efforts, to disseminate this information
and evaluate the management implications and follow-up next
steps that will evolve from these efforts.
- Reducing critical pollutant loadings to the lake.
Contaminant trackdown efforts in the U.S. and Canada will
continue so that contaminant sources can be identified and
- Reporting on the status of the LaMP’s ecosystem indicators,
and adopting new indicators.
- Assessing the current status of the lower food web and the
fisheries. Since the lower food web has been irreversibly
modified by invasive species, work is planned on further
assessing the biological aspects of the Lake and investigating
the development of new biological indicators to establish
well-defined endpoints for the LaMP’s restoration efforts.
- Re-evaluating the status of the Lake’s beneficial use
impairments, as needed.
- Developing a binational habitat conservation strategy. A
binational data base and strategy for conservation will be
developed drawing information from the Canadian habitat
assessment, NYS’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy,
the U.S. Lake Ontario Coastal Initiative, and other relevant
- Conducting public outreach and promoting LaMP partnerships
and stewardship of the Lake and its watershed.
The LaMP agencies are looking forward to continuing efforts to
improve Lake Ontario and its ecosystem.