Water Quality at Spring Bank Dam

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					 Preliminary Water Quality at
Springbank Dam, Thames River,
       London, Ontario


Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report
              No. ON-020




     To Conserve Protect and Restore Canada’s
      Freshwater and Coldwater Resources for
          Current and Future Generations
 Preliminary Water Quality at
Springbank Dam, Thames River,
       London, Ontario


Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report
              No. ON-020

                 April 2007

                      Prepared For:
                      Trout Unlimited Canada and
                      Forks of the Thames Chapter
                      London, Ontario

                      Prepared by:
                      Silvia D’Amelio
                      Ontario Provincial Biologist
                      Trout Unlimited Canada

   To Conserve Protect and Restore Canada’s
   Freshwater Ecosystems and their Coldwater
  Resources for Current and Future Generations
Table of Contents
List of Figures and Tables ................................................................................................................. 2
Abstract.............................................................................................................................................. 3
Introduction........................................................................................................................................ 4
   Oxygen........................................................................................................................................... 7
   Nitrate ............................................................................................................................................ 8
   Ammonia ....................................................................................................................................... 9
   TKN ............................................................................................................................................. 10
   Phosphorus................................................................................................................................... 10
   E. coli........................................................................................................................................... 11
Results.............................................................................................................................................. 13
   Oxygen......................................................................................................................................... 13
   Nitrate .......................................................................................................................................... 13
   Ammonia ..................................................................................................................................... 14
   TKN ............................................................................................................................................. 15
   Total Phosphorus ......................................................................................................................... 15
   E. coli........................................................................................................................................... 16
Conclusions...................................................................................................................................... 18
Acknowledgements.......................................................................................................................... 20
References........................................................................................................................................ 21




Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                                                                  1
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
List of Figures and Tables
Figure 1: Dissolved Oxygen readings, shaded area represents Provincial guidelines...................13
Figure 2: Nitrate readings for each sampling event (N=11). The light purple shaded area
          represents the Provincial Drinking Water Guideline and the dark shaded area represents
          the Canadian Guideline for Aquatic Life...........................................................................14
Figure 3: Ammonia readings for each sampling event (N=11). Solid points represent actual
          values, hollow points represent a reading of less than 0.05...............................................14
Figure 4: TKN readings for each sampling event (N=11).............................................................15
Figure 5: Phosphorus readings for each sampling event (N=11). The purple line represents
          Provincial guidelines. ........................................................................................................16
Table 1: Average, Minimum, maximum, range and median E. coli values for samples taken
          during impoundment and during periods when the river is free flowing (units in CFU/L).
           ...........................................................................................................................................16
Figure 6: E. coli readings by sampling dates (blue data points) (N=11). Shaded areas represent
          periods of impoundment (dam gates closed), and the purple line represents the provincial
          water quality objective of 100 CFU/L. ..............................................................................17
Figure 7: E. coli content calculated as geometric means per month. The purple line denotes the
          provincial water quality objective for recreational waters (100 CFU/L). .........................17




Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                                                                    2
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
Abstract
          Water quality in Springbank reservoir has become a growing concern for anglers and
local residents. In the summer of 2006, Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC) and the Forks of the
Thames Chapter of TUC initiated a water quality monitoring program. Water samples were
analyzed for parameters including nitrates, nitrites, phosphorus, oxygen, ammonia and fecal
coliforms. Results show that both phosphorus and E. coli levels are consistently above
provincial water quality objectives. E. coli and phosphorus levels are highest during periods
where the river is free flowing, suggesting that bacteria and organics settle into substrates during
periods of impoundment and are released when velocities increase and substrates are
remobilized. These findings are consistent with current scientific literature. The literature also
shows that reducing velocities and impoundment can lead to increase temperatures, storages of
nutrients in sediment and anoxic conditions, allowing for the survival and/or proliferation of
bacteria when the sediments are remobilized. These results suggest that though the dam may not
be the direct source of the poor water quality conditions, by creating ideal conditions for bacteria
survival the dam may be exacerbating already poor water quality. Allowing water to flow freely
without impoundment provides an opportunity for the system to purge toxins, excess nutrients
and bacteria instead of concentrating them and storing them.




Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                   3
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
Introduction
          The Thames River drains a 5,285km2 watershed, whose upper reaches are dominated by
agricultural landuse. The river runs through many major urban centers including London,
Woodstock and Chatham on its way to Lake St. Clair (Thames River Ecosystem Recovery
Team). The river is one of the most species rich rivers is Ontario supporting over 90 species of
fish and many aquatic species listed as threatened, endangered or of special concern by
COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada 2006) including 12 fish,
6 reptiles and 7 mussel species (Thames River Ecosystem Recovery Team).


          Springbank dam was built in 1929 and is managed by the Upper Thames Conservation
Authority for recreation and fisheries protection (Acres International 2003). The dam sits on the
Thames River at the south west corner of the City of London and the 135 acre head pond
captures flow from both the North and South Thames Rivers. The water feeding into Springbank
reservoir from the North Thames first passes through agricultural lands as well as two small
urban centers and then through multiple reservoirs including Fanshawe Lake, approximately
12km upstream of Springbank reservoir. Fanshawe is an artificial lake utilized as a flood control
structure and a recreational impoundment. Frequent algal blooms compounded by nutrient rich
sediments trapped and stored within the impoundment have made water quality poor and
recreational use a challenge (Sierra Club of Canada 2005). In 2005 the Sierra Club partnered
with the Canadian Olympic Women's Rowing team and the Upper Thames Conservation
Authority “… to have Lake Fanshawe be swimmable in ten years.” (Sierra Club of Canada
2005). Springbank reservoir receives these waters from Fanshawe Reservoir. In addition, it
receives waters from the South Thames which in turn passes through two urban centers
(Woodstock and Ingersoll) and at least one large reservoir. From the Forks of the Thames (the
merge of the North and South Thames) the river picks up inflows from multiple sewage
treatment plants and storm water runoff from most of the City of London (Thames River
Ecosystem Recovery Team). Greenway sewage treatment plant discharges its treated outflow
directly into the 8km head pond above Springbank Dam. Bypasses of primary treated effluent
(removal of solids) occur yearly (Community of London Environmental Awareness Reporting
Network 2006). Many of the sewage treatment plants within the watershed exhibit multiple



Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                 4
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
yearly sewage bypass events, where raw sewage is released into the river (Community of
London Environmental Awareness Reporting Network 2006).


          The dam is operated seasonally to create an 18ft deep recreational impoundment for the
citizens of London. In May stop logs are put in place and the reservoir is filled in stages to an
elevation (msl) of ±229.4m (Acres International 2003). Stop logs are removed in October and
the dam is drained for the winter.


          This area is home to the London Rowing Club and the London Canoe Club, which
utilizes Springbank reservoir for its seasonal activities. In addition many parks in the area
including Springbank Park offer a variety of uses to the local residents including hiking, biking,
sports fields and dog parks. The dam is now under repair to replace the stop logs with steel
gates.


          On the upstream side of the dam, there are spawning sites for a wide range of fish species
including: brown trout, migratory rainbow trout, Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, smallmouth
bass, walleye, northern pike. The rare Spotted Sucker and the Black Redhorse have also been
found above and below the dam and are listed by COSEWIC as threatened (Committee on the
Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada 2006).


          The Upper Thames Conservation Authority operates 23 water quality monitoring sites
throughout the watershed which it has maintained since the 1960’s (Upper Thames River
Conservation Authority 2004). Water quality in this reservoir is not monitored by the
municipality or the Conservation Authority. The municipality and the local city health unit have
determined that this area does not require monitoring for recreational water quality standards
because it is not considered a bathing area. Even though it is not used for swimming, enormous
amounts of recreational activity occur in the area and in the reservoir itself, including training for
the rowing club, recreational boating and fishing. The potential for many of these activities to
expose people to the water in Springbank reservoir is very high. Rowers often become
extremely wet when training and occasionally fall in and/or immerse themselves to cool down,
thus coming in direct contact with the water. From a risk assessment perspective, all the above
circumstances suggest that water quality in Springbank Dam should be assessed.

Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                   5
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
          One of TUC’s major conservation policies is to “Conserve and Protect Clean, Cold
Water”. The purpose of this project is to assess the water quality characteristics of the
Springbank Dam Reservoir and compare it to the Provincial water quality standards for
recreational waters. This project will determine water quality characteristics with the intent to
inform the public of potential water quality issues in this area. This project also promotes TUC's
goal to inform and educate the public about the importance of water quality for all life.




Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                  6
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
Methods

          Springbank dam operations for 2006 began with the closing of gates and the filling of the
impoundment on June 19th. The gates were lowered on August 2nd due to a debris jam and the
reservoir was refilled starting on August 15th. The final opening of the gates occurred on
September 17th and the draining was complete within 3 days (Upper Thames Conservation
Authority, pers. com.). Due to the effect of running water on water quality, the data collected
will be interpreted in light of the dam operating schedule.


          To ensure quality and consistency, Trout Unlimited Canada and the Forks of the Thames
Chapter (TUC) hired ALS Laboratories to collect and analyze water samples. The sampling
schedule was setup in partnership with ALS Laboratories and included multiple samples in every
month from June to October. Three sampling sites were identified including Highway #7
(upstream of Springbank), Springbank reservoir and Kilworth (downstream of Springbank). All
samples were collected off shore between 10am and 1pm, by a trained staff member of ALS
Laboratories. Data was supplied to Trout Unlimited Canada for analysis and interpretation. The
sampling design included additional water samples to be collected by volunteers to augment the
number of fecal coliform assessments performed per site. Unfortunately due to time constraints
these additional samples were not collected. As a result, prior to comparison and interpretation
the number of sampling events per site were evaluated. Based on inadequate sampling frequency
the Kilworth and Highway #7 sites were removed a priori from the analysis. It was felt that the
data collected from these sites would not prove robust enough to derive any trends and/or
conclusions. Variables monitored at all sites included: oxygen, nitrate, ammonia, Total Kjeldahl
Nitrogen (TKN), total phosphorus and E. coli.


Oxygen

          Aquatic organisms including fish require oxygen for respiration. Oxygen is supplied to
an aquatic system directly from the atmosphere through surface uptake, or mixing, and as a by-
product of photosynthesis by aquatic plants. Dissolved oxygen concentrations are dependant on
multiple factors such as temperature, atmospheric pressure, turbulence, ammonia, decomposition
and density of aquatic vegetation.


Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                 7
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
          Low concentrations of oxygen can prove lethal to aquatic organisms, causing decreases
in egg survival, growth rates and adult survival in fishes (Einum et al 2002 and Albrech 1977),
decreases in growth rate and adult survival in aquatic insects (Lowell and Culp 1999 and
Chapelle and Peck 2004) and affecting filtering efficiency in mussels (Thompson and Bayne
1972).


          Low dissolved oxygen concentrations can also cause increased phosphorus release from
sediments in standing water. Similarly supersaturation of oxygen within the water column
during daylight hours, usually caused by excessive algal and plant growth, can also be toxic to
aquatic organisms. Algal and plant growth cause extreme diurnal fluctuations in oxygen levels.
Algae and plants produce oxygen during the day through photosynthesis, but consume it at night
during respiration causing depleted oxygen concentrations resulting in the potential for oxygen
deprivation (Kish et al 2006). On the Grand River at Glen Morris, highs of 14mg/L and lows of
4mg/L have been recorded during summer months (pers. obs., Grand River Conservation
Authority website).


          Rainbow trout require a minimum of 6mg/L (Coble, 1982, Barrow and Pete 2001).
Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) guidelines requires levels of
5.5mg/L to 9.5mg/L in aquatic systems. The provincial water quality guidelines list a range
minimum of 4-7mg/L for rivers within the same temperature range as the Thames (Ministry of
the Environment and Energy 1994).


          Oxygen was measured during each sampling event. These are instantaneous samples and
represent values approaching probable daily highs for dissolved oxygen.

Nitrate

          Nitrogen is an essential nutrient found naturally in aquatic systems and is required by
organisms for basic life processes. Nitrogen exists in many forms, two of which are biologically
available to organisms; nitrate and ammonium. Nitrate can enter the aquatic environment in low
levels naturally through groundwater discharge, decaying plants and animals, soils and the
atmosphere. Nitrate levels in degraded systems can be increased by storm water runoff,
wastewater from sewage treatment plants, over flow from faulty septic systems, runoff from

Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                  8
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
manure storage areas and industrial discharges (Vitousek et al 1997). Aquatic plants including
algae utilize nitrate for growth, sometimes producing ammonia as a by product through
decomposition.


          In conjunction with phosphates, nitrates in excessive amounts can accelerate
eutrophication. The dramatic increase in aquatic plant growth (including algae) causes changes
in the oxygen regime and can damage biological communities in the affected area. Excess, high
concentrations of nitrates can become toxic to both aquatic and terrestrial animals.


          “The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency found that the median nitrate-nitrogen
concentration in wadeable streams that support a “modified” warm water habitat was 1.6 mg/l”
(Tippecanoe Environmental Lake & Watershed Foundation 2005). Modified warm water habitat
is defined as: “streams that have irretrievable, extensive, man-induced modification that
precludes attainment of the warm water habitat use designation” (Tippecanoe Environmental
Lake & Watershed Foundation 2005). Nitrate-nitrogen concentrations exceeding 10 mg/L in
drinking water are considered hazardous to human health the Ministry of Environment provincial
guidelines (Safe Drinking Water Act 2002).


          The Upper Thames Conservation Authority utilizes guidelines of 10mg/L (Provincial
Drinking Water Guideline) and 3mg/L (Canadian Guideline for Aquatic Life) in its water quality
monitoring (Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, 2004). The results from this study
will be compared to these guidelines.

Ammonia

          Ammonia, a form of Nitrogen, is found at low levels in the natural aquatic environment,
typically less than 1 mg/L (Environment Canada and Health Canada 2001). Inputs from various
sources including water treatment plants, agricultural and urban runoff and industrial relsases
(similar to nitrates) can elevate the natural concentrations. Some forms of bacteria convert
ammonia to nitrate, causing potentially variable ammonia concentrations correlated with bateria
concentrations. Concentrations of ammonia in the effluent of wastewater treatment plants which
is not properly treated, can range up to 50 mg/L (Ohio State University Extension 1996). At
high levels, ammonia can affect invertebrate species composition and distribution of aquatic

Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                  9
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
plants (Monda et al 1995, Popp and Hoagland 1995). Fish can be affected through loss of
equilibrium, increased cardiac output and oxygen intake and over a matter of hours, death
(Environment Canada 2001). Moderate levels over long periods of time affect population
demographics of species within the aquatic system. Ammonia toxicity is related temperature and
pH, where ammonia toxicity increases at colder temperatures and lower pH values (Environment
Canada 2001).


TKN

          Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) is a calculation of the sum of all organic nitrogen and
ammonia within a water sample. Excessive organic pollution resulting from animal/human
waste, decaying organic matter and live organic material like algae can cause high levels of
organic nitrogen. Levels of 0.1mg/L to 2.0 mg/L are considered high and consistent with high
organic inputs (Wilcock et al 1995, Lavallee and Pick 2002).


Phosphorus

          Phosphorus available for uptake by the aquatic environment exists in two forms: organic
(particulate and dissolved) and inorganic. Organic phosphorus (phosphate) is required by
organisms a nutrient source and in many natural, healthy systems is the limiting factor effecting
aquatic plant growth. Sources of phosphate include rocks/minerals, animal waste, decaying
plants and animals, septic and sewage treatment outflows, re-suspension of sediments in the
watercourse, stormwater runoff, industrial discharge and agricultural runoff. Within these
sources, phosphorus (in the form of phosphates) are found in detergents, fertilizers, animal
waste, soil particles (i.e. from development), some construction materials and some industrial
chemicals.


          Phosphorus is found in varying levels naturally in healthy aquatic systems. However,
elevated phosphorus levels can cause increased plant production resulting in algal blooms and
dense aquatic plant populations. As mentioned above, these increases can result in significant
and potentially dangerous fluxes in oxygen levels as the plants produce copious amounts of
oxygen during the day and consume it at night through respiration and decay. As oxygen levels
fall, stored phosphorus is released from sediments exacerbating the problem. Phosphorus is only

Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                10
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
toxic to animals or humans at extremely high levels and can cause digestive problems. More
frequently, consequences of high phosphorus levels are indirect, through increase plant and
bacteria growth causing eutrophication. Many types of bacteria thrive in high phosphorus
conditions, for example cyanobacteria which are harmful to animals (Environment Canada
2005). Provincial water quality objectives limit concentrations of total phosphorus to 0.03mg/L,
but to “…avoid nuisance concentrations of algae….”; they recommend a limit of 0.02mg/L
(Ministry of the Environment and Energry 1994). Total phosphorus was tested in this study and
compared with the provincial guidelines of 30µg/L (Ministry of Environment and Energy 1994).


E. coli

          E. coli is a type of bacteria which is classified as a fecal coliform. While not all types of
E. coli are harmful to humans, some like 0157:H7 are very dangerous (Canadian Food Inspection
Agency 2005). Fecal coliforms are found in the intestinal tracts of all warm blooded animals and
are eliminated through feces (Gary and Adams 1985). E. coli are utilized as an indicator of the
potential presence of dangerous pathogens. Microbial pathogens can cause gastrointestinal
illnesses including typhoid, gastroenteritis and infectious hepatitis. Fecal coliforms can be
present in water courses due to storm water runoff, agricultural drainage and runoff, sewage
treatment plant over flows, septic overflows and waterfowl (Doran and Linn 1979, Marino and
Gannon 1991, Obiri-Danso and Jones 1999). These microbial organisms while found in the
water columns, quickly die off at a rate dependant on flow and amount of sunlight (Gary and
Adams 1985, Palmatur et al 1989). In systems where flows slow due to impoundments, fecal
coliforms drop out of suspension and are stored in sediments where they can survive for periods
exceeding 162 days (Dutka and Rao 1986, Marino and Gannon 1991, Jamison et al 2005). Fecal
coliforms can also be stored in soils on land and in sediments in stormwater systems (McDonald
and Jenkins 1982, Palmatur et al 1989, Marino and Gannon 1991). Survival in sediment is
enhanced by high temperatures, organic content and sediment type both in the channel and
surrounding areas (LaLiberte and Grimes 1982, Palmatur et al 1989, Howell et al 1996, Jamison
et al 2005). These stores of coliforms can then be re-suspended and multiply during high flow
events, or in the case of storage on land, rainfall events (Kay and McDonald 1980, Muirhead et
al 2004, Jamison et al 2005). Given the right conditions, fecal coliform populations can even
multiply within the sediments (Standridge et al 1979, Marino and Gannon 1991). In natural


Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                    11
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
unpolluted water bodies, concentrations of fecal coliforms and associated pathogens are
negligible or non existent.


          This study identified concentrations of E. coli, but did not identify specific forms or
sources. Individual measurements of E. coli levels were compared with the provincial water
quality objectives of 100 CFU/L (Figure 6). The most common reporting method for e-coli
levels is the geometric mean, utilizing a minimum of 5 individual samples taken within a 30 day
period (Ministry of the Environment 2001). When geometric readings exceed 100 CFU/L,
public swimming areas are closed and posted as “unsafe to swim” (Ministry of Environment and
Energy 1994) To compare our readings more accurately to the provincial guidelines we
calculated geometric means and to ensure conservative estimates, we replaced missing samples
with 0 values totaling a minimum of 5 individual measurements (Figure 7).




Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                  12
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
Results
Oxygen

          Oxygen readings ranged from 7.0mg/L to 11.0mg/L with a mean of 8.15 mg/L (Figure 1).
This range is above the minimum Provincial water quality guidelines and steadily increase from
mid-September to the end of October (Figure 1). It is important to note that these measurements
are instantaneous readings and were taken between 10am and 1pm, when levels would be
expected to approaching daily maximums. High oxygen levels are not considered a human
health concern.
                   d is s o lv e d o x y g e n c o n c e n tra tio n (m g /L )




                                                                                  12.0

                                                                                  10.0

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                Figure 1: Dissolved Oxygen readings, shaded area represents Provincial guidelines.




Nitrate

          Nitrate levels in Springbank reservoir are significantly higher than the provincial water
quality objectives (Figure 2). The readings ranged from 3.3 mg/L to 8.1 mg/L with an average of
5.42mg/L. Levels seem to be highest during the spring and fall when the river is free flowing.
The increase observed in September seems to coincide with the draining of the reservoir.




Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                                                                                                         13
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
                                                14.0
                                                12.0




                        Nitrate (m g/L)
                                                10.0
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   Figure 2: Nitrate readings for each sampling event (N=11). The light purple shaded area represents the
   Provincial Drinking Water Guideline and the dark shaded area represents the Canadian Guideline for
                                                Aquatic Life.




Ammonia

      Ammonia levels are relatively low within this system with an average reading of
0.07mg/L and a maximum of 0.14mg/L. (Figure 3). A sharp increase in levels is observed mid-
September which coincides with the opening of the dam gates.


                                            0.16
                                            0.14
                                            0.12
                   A m m o n ia a m g /L




                                            0.10
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  Figure 3: Ammonia readings for each sampling event (N=11). Solid points represent actual values, hollow
                               points represent a reading of less than 0.05.




Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                                                                        14
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
TKN

          TKN levels for Springbank reservoir are extremely high and are indicative of high
organic inputs into the system (Figure 4). TKN ranged from 0.90mg/L to 1.70mg/L with an
average reading of 1.17mg/L for the sampling season.




                                      1.8
                                      1.6
                                      1.4
                                      1.2
                   T K N (m g /L )




                                      1.0
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                                            Figure 4: TKN readings for each sampling event (N=11).




Total Phosphorus

          Total phosphorus levels are extremely high at this sampling site and reach levels of
almost an order of magnitude higher than the provincial objectives (Figure 5). Phosphorus
ranged from 0.07mg/L to 0.19mg/L with an average of 0.12mg/L. Phosphorus is not considered
a human health concern.




Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                                                            15
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
                    phosphorus concentration (mg/L)
                                                          0.20
                                                          0.18
                                                          0.16
                                                          0.14
                                                          0.12
                                                          0.10
                                                          0.08
                                                          0.06
                                                          0.04
                                                          0.02
                                                          0.00    06




                                                                  06
                                                                   6




                                                                   6


                                                                   6


                                                                   6


                                                                   6


                                                                   6


                                                                   6


                                                                   6
                                                                 00




                                                                 00


                                                                 00


                                                                 00


                                                                 00


                                                                 00


                                                                 00


                                                                 00
                                                                20




                                                                20
                                                              /2




                                                              /2


                                                              /2


                                                              /2


                                                              /2


                                                              /2


                                                              /2


                                                              /2
                                                             5/




                                                             3/
                                                           19




                                                           17


                                                           31


                                                           14


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                                                           11


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                                                            /9
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                                                         7/




                                                        10
                                                        6/




                                                        7/


                                                        7/


                                                        8/


                                                        8/


                                                        9/


                                                        9/
    Figure 5: Phosphorus readings for each sampling event (N=11). The purple line represents Provincial
                                               guidelines.



E. coli


          Data indicated that E. coli (fecal coliforms) levels were high (Figure 6). All readings
exceeded provincial water quality objectives, one by as much as 55 times (Figure 6). Readings
decreased during periods of impoundment and were significantly higher in high flow events
(spring and fall). E. coli ranged from 110CFU/L to 5500CFT/L with an average of
1249CFU/100ml. Differences in readings taken during periods of impoundment to readings
during periods of free flowing water indicate increased average, range and median values during
free flowing periods. These data represent a small number of samples (N=6 during free flowing
and N=5 during impoundment) and are therefore suggestive and not definitive.


                                                                     Average   Min   Max    Range   Median
                                                      Free flowing    1845     550   5500   4950     1025
                                                      Impounded        534     110   1140   1030     370

      Table 1: Average, Minimum, maximum, range and median E. coli values for samples taken during
              impoundment and during periods when the river is free flowing (units in CFU/L).

          E. coli in this system may be considered a human health concern for body contact. These
reading are taken from untreated surface waters and are not considered drinking water.




Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                           16
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
                                               6000




                    E. Coli Content (CFU)
                                               5000
                                               4000
                                               3000
                                               2000
                                               1000
                                                   0
                                                   06




                                                                      06
                                                             6




                                                                                6

                                                                                          6

                                                                                                    6

                                                                                                              6

                                                                                                                        6

                                                                                                                                  6

                                                                                                                                          06

                                                                                                                                                   06
                                                            00




                                                                            00

                                                                                      00

                                                                                                00

                                                                                                          00

                                                                                                                    00

                                                                                                                              00




                                                                                                                                                  0
                                               20




                                                                 20




                                                                                                                                       20
                                                        /2




                                                                           /2

                                                                                     /2

                                                                                               /2

                                                                                                         /2

                                                                                                                   /2

                                                                                                                             /2




                                                                                                                                               /2
                                              5/




                                                                 3/




                                                                                                                                      /
                                                       19




                                                                       17

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                                                                                                    28

                                                                                                              11

                                                                                                                        25

                                                                                                                                   /9

                                                                                                                                               3
                                             6/




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                                                                                                                                            /2
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                                                                      7/

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                                                                                                              9/

                                                                                                                        9/



                                                                                                                                          10
  Figure 6: E. coli readings by sampling dates (blue data points) (N=11). Shaded areas represent periods of
impoundment (dam gates closed), and the purple line represents the provincial water quality objective of 100
                                                   CFU/L.


          Geometric means were calculated and plotted in Figure 7. These calculations require 5
samples be assessed and averaged for each month. We were not able to obtain 5 samples for
each month. In order to calculate a conservative geometic mean we assumed the remaining
samples to be 0. Actual samples included 2 in each month of sampling and 3 in July. The data
indicate that even with these conservative calculations, the E. coli concentrations are above the
provincial water quality objectives in every month (Figure 7).


                                            1800
                                            1600
                    E. Coli Content (CFU)




                                            1400
                                            1200
                                            1000
                                            800
                                            600
                                            400
                                            200
                                              0
                                                        June                July               August              September                Oct

  Figure 7: E. coli content calculated as geometric means per month. The purple line denotes the provincial
                         water quality objective for recreational waters (100 CFU/L).



Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                                                                      17
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
Conclusions

          It is evident from the data presented here that the water quality within Springbank Dam
reservoir does not meet the provincial water quality objectives for phosphorus and e-coli, in
some cases by orders of magnitude.


          There are many potential sources of pollutants including sewage treatment plants,
stormwater runoff (street runoff draining dog feces, household waste, chemicals etc…),
waterfowl, golf course management, industrial runnoff and agricultural runoff. However, it is
not possible to identify point sources of pollution from these data. It is important to remember
that it is highly likely that water quality within the Thames River and specifically Springbank
reservoir is a result of many if not all of the factors mentioned above, exacerbated by
impounding the water during the summer. If the identification of sources is desired, further
testing of water quality throughout the season and expansion to include metals, chlorides,
bacterial species identification and fecal coliform/streptococci ratios will aid in the identification
of some of these sources.


          Oxygen levels taken during this study indicate high values mid day when oxygen within a
system would be approaching its daily maximum. These values are expected for a free flowing
healthy river but may indicate saturation resulting from photosynthesis of macrophytes. High
densities of algae noted within the river and reservoir can cause dramatic diurnal fluxes in
oxygen. Algae and aquatic plants produce oxygen during the day, but consume oxygen at night
creating high potential for cyclical oxygen deprivation within the system (Kish et al 2006). This
is supported by the high nutrient values within these samples, again suggesting excessive algal
and plant growth and therefore eutrophication. Oxygen monitoring over a 24 hour period at
multiple times during the summer and at multiple depths within the reservoir is necessary to
clarify the availability of oxygen to the animals within this ecosystem and the levels of diurnal
fluctuations that may be stressing them. High diurnal fluctuations could cause high stress levels
in fish living in the reservoir and depending upon the minimum concentrations could lead to
death.




Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                  18
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
          Excessive concentrations of nutrients and extreme diurnal ranges of oxygen reduces
species richness and changes species composition, favoring low oxygen and high organic matter
tolerant species (Popp and Hoaglant 1995). Draining the reservoir allows the plant material to
flush and oxygen levels to improve, but water quality effects of large dams can influence habitats
up to 30km downstream (Palmer and O’Keef 1990). Turbulence associated with draining and
refilling reservoirs increases nutrient and E. coli release from sediment (Fabre 1988).


          These data suggest that the reservoir is acting as a sink for phosphorus and fecal
coliforms, which is consistent with scientific literature. Nutrients and E. coli drop out of
suspension as water velocities slow, creating a sink within substrates (Jamison et al 2005).
Substrates high in nutrients and/or organics have the ability to support E. coli and in some cases
conditions allow for proliferation (LaLiberte and Grimes 1982, Palmatur et al 1989). These
substrates can be flushed in the spring and fall when natural high flows disturb the sediment
causing the nutrients and bacteria to be re-suspended in the water column and moved
downstream (Jamison et al 2005). It has been shown that if a system is allowed to flush
repeatedly without intermittent impoundment, the bacteria concentrations within the sediments
can be significantly reduced and even depleted completely (Jamison et al 2005). Flushing also
increases die off of bacteria as the organisms are not adapted to surviving long periods in running
water, exposed to sunlight. Exposure to U.V. radiation in sunlight speeds up destruction of these
populations (VanDossel et al 1967), significantly reducing downstream affects of bacteria in
running water.


     These data suggest that while we can not identify point sources for the nutrients and E. coli
observed to be at high levels, the impoundment of water seems to be exacerbating the problem
by allowing the water to slow. This situation creates a sink for nutrients and bacteria and
potentially creating a eutrophic reservoir harmful to both aquatic animals within the system and
potentially people as well. Further data should be collected to verify these data and conclusions.


     The residents of the community will have to decide if the apparent poor water quality and
high E. coli levels are an unacceptable risk to the community for the benefits provided by the
impoundment.



Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                   19
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
Acknowledgements

          We would like to thank Felix Barbetti (Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters), Dr.
John Fitzgibon (University of Guelph), The Forks of the Thames Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Canada, The Upper Thames Conservation Authority, City of London and the Thames River
Anglers Association for their time and contributions in reviewing and providing comments on
this report.




Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                             20
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario
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Trout Unlimited Canada Technical Report No. ON-020                                                      23
Preliminary Water Quality at Springbank Dam, Thames River, London Ontario

				
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