Friday, September 9, 2022


 Yesterday's Woolwich Observer carries the following front page story written by Leah Gerber titled "Its health a concern, the Grand River is being analyzed". The investigation by Ryan Prosser an environmental science department professor at the University of Guelph was prompted by a survey done by Friends of the Grand River, a local volunteer organization. Members have noticed a deterioration in the last few years of both the water quality and of the numbers and size of trout in the river. My understanding is that the trout are primarily present in the river from the Belwood Dam south only to West Montrose. Cold water is released from the bottom of the Dam which trout require. Again my understanding for decades has been that the addition to the river of Sewage Treatment Plant discharges in Waterloo, Kitchener and Cambridge, combined with warmer water and industrial pollution  makes trout habitat extremely unlikely.

Friends of the Grand River are concerned about pollution from sources like road salt, insecticides and household chemicals. Ryan Prosser of the U. of Guelph will sample the benthic community (sediment burrowing organisms) and investigate algal toxins as well as pesticide and nutrient levels in the river. Toxic blue green algae floating on the surface is exacerbated by dry, hot summers of which this last summer certainly applies. 

It's hard not to extrapolate these concerns with the essentially uncontrolled discharges of herbicides, pesticides, insecticides and fungicides from the former Uniroyal Chemical plant on the Canagagigue Creek in Elmira, Ontario. Ditto for nitrogen releases from Nutrite/Yara and from Uniroyal consisting of ammonia as well as NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine). While we hope that these discharges/leakages are small I am not confident that we have been given reliable information. Regardless the Canagagigue Creek has historically been very bad for the water quality it discharges into the Grand River, half a mile south of the village of West Montrose.

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