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The Sault's new $44 million secondary waste water treatment plant in the Sault's east end has contributed also to much cleaner water entering the river from the Puma Creepers Purple Velvet
Included among those impairments are high risks to fish and wildlife populations and habitats, and risks to humans who may eat the fish, swim in the water, or use it for drinking or other purposes.
Taillon said that a current focus of the Remedial Action Plan, in its second phase since 2002, is how to address the problem of sediment contamination in the river's bottom soil, the legacy from an extensive list of Buy Basket Heart Puma chemicals, heavy metals, oils and other contaminants, as well as municipal wastes, that were dumped into the river beginning around 1900.
So will the St. Marys River ever reach the final stage where it is removed as an Area of Concern?
"Quite a bit of government funding has gone into assessing contaminated sediment in the river to determine whether or not there are biological effects, and whether or not management is required, and if so where," Taillon said. "The next step from that is to design the engineering."
"For example, you might say that the fish habitat or population is healthy, but how do you define healthy?" Taillon said. "In 2002, when they set out the goals, they used terms like healthy, but they weren't specific particularly, so now the challenge we have is knowing whether or not we have achieved our objectives."
Sue Greenwood, a scientist with the Ministry of Natural Resources, and a member of the St. Marys River Fisheries Task Group, said: "If we have a healthy St. Marys River environment, then we know that environment is healthy for us too. If the fish are doing fine, then we're free to eat them. If the fish are doing fine, then the water must be of good quality, and with appropriate treatment we can drink that without concern, and we don't need to be concerned about swimming in the water."
Marys River quality improved
Kate Taillon, senior program coordinator with Environment Canada responsible for the St. Marys River, said, "I think that no one would disagree that the river is in a better state today than it was in 1985."
"Scientific studies can't be done in one year to be accurate. They need to be done over a number of years to make sure that what Puma Basket Platforms White Gum
Although the three phase Remedial Action Plan established in 1987 is still underway, there is consensus among experts and public stakeholders involved in the river's clean up that they are making progress toward eliminating some of the 10 so called Benefi cial Use Impairments identified in 1992, during the first phase of the RAP.
Zimmerman also agreed that the American government has invested more heavily in the past in its clean up and restoration efforts.
Greg Zimmerman, the new American chair of BPAC for 2011, agreed with Marles that the American departments would like to de list some of the Beneficial Use Impairments, where substantial progress has been made. side of the river. is pushing to de list the river," he said. " What we'd like to do is assess where we are, and for those instances where specific BUIs aren't that big an issue, we'd like to say for the Michigan side of the river, it's been remediated."
Among the options on the table for dealing with contaminated sediment in identified hotspots are dredging; depositing a layer or cap over the sediment; or a combination of both methods.
Greenwood, who reported at a public update recently that the fish habitat and population are relatively healthy in the river, added, "Under the Remedial Action Plan, the focus is, can you eat the fish? Can you swim in the water? Can you drink the water? Those are the prime tenets. So it's part of establishing a clean environment for ourselves, and cleaning up our past mistakes."
While all those interviewed agreed that the St. Marys River would some day be de listed as an Area of Concern, they agreed also that the river never would be as pristine as before industrial development.
Zimmerman added: "We want to show progress so people don't say, we've been at this 20 some years, and nothing's happened. Things have happened, and we want to make sure people know that. But we don't want to de list with an eraser."
All those involved in the project, whom Sault This Week interviewed, agreed unanimously that the health of the St. Marys River should be of vital importance to everyone.
you're reporting is reliable," she said. "With sediment in particular, it is a long a slow process, but we are making progress."
areas of concern. "That was one of the few initiatives that received funding in the 2010 budget announcement," she said.
"I realize that this process takes time, but we are really nearing the end of the road with St. Marys," Taillon said. "I think, we've nearly completed most of the projects we were committed to do. Now we're at the process of going back to the community, and saying, we think the job is done here. Environment Protection Agency, are pushing to de list all or some of the St. Marys River beneficial use impairments for its section of the River.
"There were many years of relative neglect where [the river] was not on the Canadian radar at all," he said. "But they are doing much more than they use to. We have seen a flurry of activity on the Canadian side in the past several years."
A second focus now for Environment Canada and the Ministry of Environment, which are the lead team responsible for the joint Canadian American cleanup of the river, is to review the projects that were completed over the past nine years with the goal of making the targets set in 2002 measurable and quantifiable.
Water quality in the river has improved significantly as a result of large investments in cleaning up industrial hotspots on both sides of the river, and new technologies to ensure that effluent flowing into the river from Essar Algoma Steel and St. Marys Paper comply with Ministry of the Environment regulations.
Taillon pointed out that a number of sediment management projects in the river were conducted since 2002 that were both time consuming and expensive.
Don Marles, the first vice chair of the Bi National Public Advisory Council, a stakeholder group established in 1988 to advise the government agencies in charge of the RAP, said, "Michigan is really pushing for delisting. That can happen on their side, but it certainly cannot happen on the Canadian side because we're way behind. The MDEQ and the USEPA have put far more money into the cleanup effort than Canada and Ontario has."
Almost 25 years after the St. Marys River was identified as an Area of Concern because of heavy pollution, it remains a contamination hotspot in the Great Lakes Water Basin.
As for Canadian funding currently, Taillon said that the Federal government had renewed funding of $8 million annually for the next five years through the Great Lakes Action Plan for Puma Basket Blue
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