A Brief Look at the History and the Current Status of Efforts to Protect and Preserve this Watershed for Generations to Come.
And a Few Words on How You Can Stay Informed on the Restoration Work as it Continues
By Doug Draper
Posted July 12th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
It hardly needs to be said that the Niagara River and the numerous tributaries draining into it play a vital role in the quality of life, including the health and economic prosperity of people and communities on both sides of the Canada/U.S. border.
Yet we have not always shown this sprawling watershed the respect and the care it needs to continue playing that priceless role.
By the middle decades of the last century, growing numbers of citizens and civic leaders on both sides of the border began sounding alarm bells about discharges of pollution to the Niagara River that, according to a report from one Maid of the Mist captain at the time, made the water below the Horseshoe and American Falls smell like “airplane glue”.
But it wasn’t until the mid-to-late 1970s, when buried chemical waste was discovered oozing through a neighbourhood called the Love Canal in Niagara Falls, New York, leading to then U.S. President Jimmy Carter declaring a “national emergency” so that families could be evacuated as the poisons were found contaminated creeks and groundwater flowing to the Niagara River, that federal, state and provincial governments on both sides of the border were finally forced to respond to citizens’ groups cry for action.
A decade later, in 1987, the governments of Ontario, New York State, along with the federal governments in Canada and the United States, signed a “Declaration of Intent” to slash concentrations of a whole host of man-made poisons in the Niagara River by at least 50 per cent within 10 years – a reduction target and timeline that ongoing testing of water , river-bottom sediment and biological life in the river was met as both countries continued work on cutting the flow of pollutants to the watershed.
As part of this binational efforts, parties in Niagara, Ontario and Niagara and Erie Counties, New York worked with senior levels of governments and the Canada/U.S. International Joint Commission launched Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) aimed at restoring the health of the watershed.
A great deal has been accomplished through these plans to further improve the quality of the Niagara River and its many tributaries, and yet with a watershed this large and complex, there is still work to do and there will always be a need to be on the lookout for any new problems that may emerge.
On the Ontario side of the Niagara River, the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA) has, going back to the signing of the 1987 Declaration, played a lead role in achieving the goals of the Remedial Action Plan and, with a new NPCA board and new administrative leadership in place at the Conservation Authority following six or seven years of disruption, the watershed restoration work this agency had always worked so hard to do is finally getting back on track.
If you would like to keep up on what the NPCA and other parties in and around the Niagara River are doing to restore, and to protect and preserve this vital watershed, there is a newsletter the RAP team at the Conservation Authority posts and circulates regularly to every citizen who is interested.
It is called the Niagara River Newsletter and you can view the latest edition and find out more about how to receive upcoming editions and any and all updates on the remedial action efforts on both sides of the Niagara by clicking on – https://mailchi.mp/010c42375571/niagararivernews-july2019?e=b41ace0bbf .
I also encourage residents on both sides of the Niagara River to continue visiting this news and commentary site – Niagara At Large at www.niagaraatlarge.com – for our analysis on issues of importance to our environment.
And I wish to thank you in advance for any effort you make to pass on links for Niagara At Large and the NPCA’s Niagara River Newsletter to as many friends and associates as you can.
Let’s make a pledge together to pass on a world that is clean, healthy and beautiful to all those who will follow.
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