The Essex Region is surrounded by Lake Erie, the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair. ERCA’s water quality program includes monitoring a variety of surface water and groundwater sites and interpreting the data collected to determine the health of the watershed. The ERCA water quality program strives to improve our understanding of potential land use impacts and prioritize areas for restoration improvements. It also helps us to track the success of habitat enhancement and best management practices along watercourses. Every five years, ERCA produces a Water Quality Report Card to help provide information on the health of our watersheds.
Kingsville Leamington Nutrient Project
The Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement named the Leamington Tributaries as a priority watershed for phosphorus load reduction to mitigate Harmful Algal Blooms in Lake Erie. These tributaries are actually several relatively small, hydrologically distinct watersheds that lie mostly in the municipalities of Leamington and Kingsville, and they are heavily influenced by greenhouse agriculture. In 2012, the Essex Region Conservation Authority began monitoring these watersheds biweekly year-round and in 2016 began event sampling with ISCO autosamplers in three watersheds. Now, with a decade of data, we have explored long term trends and comparisons in nutrient concentration and load between greenhouse and non-greenhouse influenced streams. The report below shows that greenhouse influenced streams continue to have higher concentrations than non-greenhouse influenced streams, that the timing of the highest concentrations is indicative of point source pollution, and that even newly built greenhouses are contributing to downstream water quality degradation. Further action is needed to determine the means by which nutrients are escaping from what should be closed-loop operations. For further information on this project, please contact ERCA’s Water Quality Scientist.