Wednesday, May 11, 2011

80% Decrease in Waterway Pesticide Pollution after Ontario pesticide ban...

May 9, 2011

The North Bay Nugget

Pesticide ban reflected in health of Chippewa Creek
Waterways studied over two summers

By PJ WILSON The Nugget

Chippewa Creek is showing little effect from decades of pesticide use in the city.

Ontario's Ministry of the Environment examined the creek over two summers, 2008 and 2009, as part of a study of 10 waterways across the province following a provincial ban on cosmetic pesticides.

North Bay had already banned pesticide use in most applications in 2005.

The report shows that overall, pesticides and pesticide components in the waterways dropped by 80% between 2008 — the year before the pesticide ban took effect — and 2009.

"I was surprised," says Peggy Walsh Craig, of Nipissing Environment Watch. "I didn't think it would happen that quickly."

She points out that many of the chemicals which had been used, such as 2,4-D, are not particularly persistent, and will disappear from the environment in a relatively short time. Yet the sudden, steep decrease was not expected.

"To tell you the truth, I was a lot more surprised the province did the study," she admits, and that it included a Northern Ontario waterway in it.

Nevertheless, she said, it was good how substantially the creek improved over the two years, particularly "without any downside to the general public."

The 39-page report, Changes in Urban Stream Water Pesticide Concentrations One Year After a Cosmetic Pesticides Ban, set out three objectives: To determine which pesticides were detectable, whether concentrations changed after the implementation of the ban and to compare concentrations of detected pesticides on aquatic ecosystems.

Waterways inspected include Frobisher Creek southwest of Sudbury, as well as Sawmill Creek near Ottawa and seven in southwestern Ontario.

The study looked at 105 different fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and degradates — the break-down of chemical compounds.

Walsh Craig said one possible variable, the weather, wasn't really a concern, as the weather in the summers of 2008 and 2009 was almost identical.

The study was also an opportunity to take a different look at the local waterway, she said.

"What is interesting is that this is the first time the creek has been assessed for what is in it. We were advocating so strongly for a (pesticide) ban in North Bay, but we didn't have the data. Now we do."

She said the fewer chemicals there are in the creek, the better it will be for the fish and wildlife which depend on it.

Unfortunately, she added, people are still using the creek as a dumping ground. Even with regular cleanups of the creek, she said, people are still dumping shopping carts, sofas and electronics into it.

"We still have a long way to go."

pwilson@nugget.ca

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