Ecology

Suburban Development Filling Cootes with Silt

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 25, 2007

From the Law of Unintended Consequences Dept:

The Hamilton Spectator reports today that accumulated silt washing down from the West Mountain, Ancaster, Dundas and Waterdown suburbs is dumping 17,000 tonnes of sediment into Cootes Paradise per year.

According to a new report by Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) ecologist Jennifer Bowman, Cootes will be completely filled in 90 years if nothing is done to stop this.

Bowman says people living upstream in the Spencer, Chedoke, Ancaster, Spring and Borer's creek watersheds have to do more to combat erosion and runoff that carries sediment into Cootes.

"A lot of people don't realize putting up new homes and other activities are impacting the marsh, but water from 14 creeks drains into Cootes Paradise. We've cleaned up our act a little bit, but there's still a lot more sediment in the streams than is natural."

The report says provincial guidelines for aquatic life call for no more than 25 milligrams of suspended sediment per litre of water, but Ancaster creek last year had a mean value of 135.31 mg/L and Spencer Creek, below the junction with Ancaster Creek, had a value of 84.85 mg/L.

Bowman adds that Cootes "supplies vital habitat for fish and wildlife of Lake Ontario and its loss would be devastating."

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By trey (registered) | Posted October 26, 2007 at 10:17:43

what wonderful (lack of) city planning we have. give yourselves a big pat on your back. well done.

Can this current generation move aside already and let the next generation(s) take over and clean up their mess before anymore damage occurs that might not be reversible.

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By w willy (registered) | Posted October 26, 2007 at 11:46:29

I am sure LIUNA would be willing to dredge Cootes for a "small" fee. Problem solved, no?

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By Leisha (anonymous) | Posted October 27, 2007 at 17:20:37

When I think about the effects of urban sprawl on nature, I always think of Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" with the lines "Don't it always seem to go That you don't know what you've got Till it's gone They paved paradise And put up a parking lot." We need to redevelop older urban areas for homes and businesses; we need to keep rural areas for conservation or agriculture. Ironically over a hundred years ago Captain Cootes believed that Cootes Paradise was being destroyed due to urban sprawl. He believed that paradise was being lost. How Miltonian of him.

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