As discussed in class, it is necessary to determine the boundaries of the system. Most systems involve a series of inputs and outputs (also known as flows). There are a variety of such flows exhibited by the system for which we are evaluating. See appendix a. One such flow is that of the water itself. The hydrologic cycle involves continually recycling water through its many pathways. This cycling establishes a water balance. The activities of humans may affect this balance by interfering with the flow. Our system includes both a biophysical and socio-economic-political system. They are linked intimately however, as seen in appendix a.
Watersheds (or subwatersheds) serve as logical planning units being that all inputs and outputs may be measured. All precipitation which falls within the watershed divide follows a series of common pathways. The biogeochemical aspects of the stream ecosystem may be altered by both natural and anthropogenic activities. The physical parameters of the stream environment follow a series of physical gradients as the stream flows from the headwaters to the trunk. These graduated physical characteristics elicit a series of biological responses which is known as the river continuum theory.
As well, humans may impact the stream environment through a variety of land use practices. Point and non-point source pollution both affect the water quality and ecological integrity of the stream environment. There are many other forms of degradation which face Laurel Creek itself. To this point we have mentioned both the stream ecosystem and the watershed. In reality, the stream ecosystem is a small part of the larger watershed bioregion. The land and water are intimately connected. Only recently has this been realized in planning documents, and more specifically subwatershed planning.
We will thus be looking at issues in an integrated manner, and will not separate social and economic issues from the environment nor the stream from the land. They all function as an open system. Only when we impose boundaries on these natural processes and functions, do we see truly how open they are. Although we may be concentrating on the University owned lands, it is ignorant and incomplete to ignore adjacent land, as well as the entire watershed which is upstream and downstream of the campus.
Obviously the many players involved with the watershed plan have different stakes and interests. The residents themselves may be the last to connect the watershed plans with a net gain in environmental health, while they are perhaps benefiting the most. Mean while, a developer might resist the process as it may lead to increased regulation on their potential development interests. Municipalities have an interest in guiding the development activities within their political boundary such that they may plan for the expansion of their community. The Conservation Authorities and Natural Resource Ministries have a mandate to work towards the protection, and enhancement of natural resources.
So what stake does the University of Waterloo have in such a plan and what does this have to do with our campus? Well for starters, the University owns some 600 acres of land on the North campus including Columbia Lake, several farm plots, and an extensive riparian zone which buffers Laurel Creek itself. The land is worth money, and the University has plans to develop 2/3's of this land. The remaining 1/3rd will become some form of nature preserve. Such information is set out in the North Campus Master Plan. With such extensive land holdings, the university has a keen interest in the subwatershed planning process. The plan will require the university to protect, maintain, restore, and enhance these land holdings such that the development does not disturb the stream environment in a negative manner.
The following are key characteristics of the Subwatershed Plan 311. It consists of urban development which represents less then five per cent of the subwatershed. Remaining land is owned by the University of Waterloo to the south, while the GRCA owns the central region and Stamm Investments Limited has ownership of the north. Lands of the GRCA form part of the Laurel Creek Conservation Area while the Stamm Investments Limited is currently occupied by agriculture with residential development planned in the near future.
Drainage features in Subwatershed 311 include Laurel Creek, Columbia Lake, a tributary flowing easterly to Columbia Lake, and a pair of tributaries which drain the northern half of the Subwatershed. Virtually all lowlands of upland wooded areas are located within the Conservation area and immediately adjacent to Laurel Creek. Wetlands which are part of the Sunfish Lake Wetland Complex are located on the GRCA lands, as well as along sections of Laurel Creek.
As stated in the Subwatershed Plan, the City of Waterloo completed the Laurel Creek Watershed Study in 1993. A key requirement of the Watershed Study is the completion of Subwatershed Plans as a prerequisite to future urban development. In February 1994, the City released Guidelines' for the preparation of Subwatershed Plans. In accordance with these guidelines, this Subwatershed Plan has been prepared for Subwatershed 311 by Paragon Engineering Ltd. The natural environment review portion of the report was conducted by Ecoplans Ltd.
The purpose of designing the Subwatershed Plan is based around the need to provide for the implementation of the specific details of the Laurel Creek Watershed Study. The goal of the study is to create a joint plan for the area municipality, Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA), Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MOEE), and the landowners in the Subwatershed.
To achieve these goals, the Subwatershed Plan 311 is intended to :identify the environmental constraints on the land and the possible implications of these constraints to land use development; provide for management of the natural environment at a greater level of detail than the Laurel Creek Watershed Study and provide justification for both environmental protection and land development; address how land can be developed and how major service infrastructure is able to meet the targets as set out in the Laurel Creek Watershed Study for the Subwatershed; address how storm Management Practices (SWMPs) will meet the targets for the Subwatershed; and fulfill the various Comprehensive Environmental Impact Study requirements.
One of the key study issues identified in the background to subwatershed 311 was the impact of the University of Waterloo with respect to the North Campus Master Plan. A key objective of the Campus Master Plan is environmental protection and enhancement.. As part of the subwatershed plan, it will be necessary to more clearly define the targets that the North Campus Master Plan must adhere to if the desired level of protection and enhancement is to be achieved.
The University of Waterloo hired the consulting firm of Ecological Services for Planning to assess the University of Waterloo lands. They documented their findings in a report entitled "Inventory of Environmental Resources: University of Waterloo Campus". The information from this report was used by Ecoplans for the Subwatershed 311 natural environment review.
In talking to the variety of contact persons, we received many different options as to what type of study we should conduct. The common theme dealt with establishing a management prescription which would serve as guidance to lead agencies. We will be reviewing the Laurel Creek Watershed Study, Subwatershed Plan 311, University of Waterloo North Campus Master Plan, Inventory of Environmental Resources: University of Waterloo Campus, and a variety of technical supplements.
After the initial evaluation of the current literature, we will be formulating a list of specific issues which will require in-depth study. We will then design a series of recommendations as to management perspectives such that the development activities within the subwatershed conform to the restraints placed on them by the natural environment as laid out in the reports. This information will be of use to all lead agencies, and will be of specific interest to the University of Waterloo land holdings where the study will concentrate.
This project will play a critical role in allowing for sustainable development of the North Campus. We envisioned a campus with restored natural environments and significant protected areas. By evaluating current management options and suggesting guidelines for development, protection, restoration, and enhancement, we may help to bring this vision into reality. This topic is one of great relevance to current thought on planning in Ontario. An understanding of this process will be a valuable tool to the students participating in our group. We look forward to sharing this information with other classmates through the WEB and our presentation.
KEY CONTACT PEOPLE:
Dennis Huber: Director of Business Services and Plant Operations
for the University of Waterloo
Rudy Molunary: Plant Operations for the University of Waterloo
Larry Martin: Professor of Urban and Regional Planning for the University
Wayne MacMillan: Assistant Manager of Environmental Services for the GRCA
Gus Rungis: Senior Water Resources Engineer for the GRCA
Lorrie Minshall: Manager of Water Resources for the GRCA
Art Timmerman: Waterloo Area Team Biologist for the MNR
Although no contact has been made yet, we will more than likely contacting several of the consulting firms involved in these studies as well as the City of Waterloo.