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Lake Ontario Lakewide Management Plan 2006 - April 22, 2006

Lake Ontario LaMP

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Executive Summary (LaMP 2006)

Introduction

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.

Background

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 Great Lakes.

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 activities.

LaMP 2006

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 the LaMP.
  • 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 (Chapter 4)

  • 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 population BUI.
  • 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 activities.
  • 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 Ontario basin.
  • 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 sweeps.

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 sessions.

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 following activities:

  • 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 addressed.
  • 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 habitat efforts.
  • 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.

 

 

 
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