Collaborative moves into phase two of phosphorus reduction project
Chatham, Ontario – The Thames River Phosphorus Reduction Collaborative (PRC) has wrapped up its initial round of research and is about to begin on-the-ground demonstration projects, pending funding approval.
“We’ve done our homework, and now it’s time to move on with real, practical projects to retain more phosphorus on the land and remove phosphorus from run-off in the drains,” said Randy Hope, Mayor of Chatham-Kent and the project’s co-chair. “We’re ready and willing to do our part to resolve the serious water quality issues in our back yard, but we need support to move forward.”
The PRC steering committee heard at its meeting on October 12th about a range of in-field and in-drain projects. They are aimed at finding out how phosphorus can be prevented from entering field tile systems, how water can be treated to remove phosphorus before entering municipal drains, and testing phosphorus removal technologies in municipal drains.
Phosphorus in municipal drains that collect water from agricultural lands, among other places, can trigger the growth of toxic algal blooms in downstream water bodies. The western basin of Lake Erie has regularly experienced such incidents in recent years, and at the end of August, blue-green algae was detected in the Thames River at Chatham for the first time.
The PRC is among the principal voluntary initiatives included in the Canada-Ontario Draft Action Plan aimed at contributing to the commitment made in 2016 between Canada and the U.S. to a 40 per cent reduction in the total phosphorus entering Lake Erie. There is also a commitment among Ohio, Michigan and Ontario to reduce phosphorus to the western basin by 40 per cent by 2025.
“We appreciate the support we’ve received from government so far, and we’d like to help it fulfill its promises by finding workable, economical ways for farmers to do their part,” said Mark Reusser, co-chair of the PRC and Vice-President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
The first phase of funding was used to set up the steering committee, scope out the project, research what kinds of technologies are available, and set up communications channels so results can be shared.
The PRC represents agricultural organizations, municipalities, conservation authorities, First Nations and environmental non-governmental organizations. It is dedicated to developing a suite of effective land management and drainage solutions for agriculture, in cooperation with partners, for reducing phosphorus and improving water quality in the Thames River. Details of the collaborative, its work and a full listing of steering committee members is at www.thamesriverprc.com
The PRC is administered by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.
One-third of the $300,000 invested in the collaborative so far has come from its partner groups, and two-thirds from Growing Forward 2 (GF2), a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The Agricultural Adaptation Council assists in the delivery of GF2 in Ontario.