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Picture of North Campus Pond

INTRODUCTION

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1.1 Background Information

In 1963, the University of Waterloo purchased the North Campus property. At this time the area was primarily agricultural, with several small woodlots and residual hedgerows (Couture 1998). Noel Hynes, former chair of the Biology Department, requested that a pond be dug out in the North Campus area in 1968/1969. The purpose of this pond was to create a teaching resource for future biology studies (Duthie 1998).

The pond is located north of the Laurel Creek Woodlot (Click here to see map) where the water table is close to the surface (Couture 1998). The pond is 25m by 52m and is ellipse shaped . The surrounding land is a flat field with the exception of a steep slope located on the northwest side of the pond. The banks of the pond are also steep, which has prevented the establishment of aquatic vegetation (Duthie, 1998). Professor Duthie stated, "…it was assumed that the banks would eventually erode into a more natural state, but this has not happened…"(Duthie,1998). Carp are present in the pond and pose a problem because they contribute to the lack of vegetation and stir up the bottom sediments (Crossman, 1973). It is speculated that someone stocked the pond with carp from Laurel Creek at an unknown date.

A fence separates the field surrounding the pond from agricultural land, also owned by the University of Waterloo. Mr. Oscar Martin currently farms on the land, which he leases from the university. An access road is situated parallel to the fence on the same side as the farmer’s field. The Region of Waterloo plans to turn this access road into an extension of Westmount in 2008 (Trushinski, 1998).

1.2 Purpose

The Biology Department at the University of Waterloo suggested this project to WATgreen because they are interested in using the North Campus Pond for educational purposes. From WATgreen the project filtered down to our ERS 285 class. The overall purpose of this project is to determine the current state of the North Campus pond and develop an appropriate restoration plan for future implementation.

1.3 Systems Perspective

Although the University of Waterloo’s North Campus pond is an artificial body of water, it serves both ecological and social functions. The focus of this systems perspective is, therefore, on the various functions served by the pond, and how the surrounding area influences those functions.

In terms of its ecological function, the pond supports a variety of aquatic life such as frogs (Click here to see picture of frog), benthic invertebrates, and fish. It also provides a temporary habitat to migrating species, such as Canada Geese, which was determined by the footprints identified in a shallow area of the pond.

In addition to the pond's ecological functions, there are a number of social functions that it serves. The primary role of the pond is to serve as a research facility for University of Waterloo students. The pond would be used as an on-campus location where students can conduct water quality tests and identify and study aquatic organisms found within the area. In order to use the pond as a research facility, it is necessary that it continue to serve the ecological functions mentioned earlier.

Another social function served by the North Campus pond is that it is located within a recreation area. The pond is not used directly for recreational purposes; however, it does contribute to the overall aesthetics of the area. The physical state of the pond thus influences the overall scenery provided by the landscape.

Although the pond serves a number of ecological and social functions, it does not appear to have any direct effects on the surrounding area. However, various land-use practices within the area do appear to be influencing the current state of the pond, as well as the functions it serves.

1.4 Surrounding Land Use

1.4.1 Residential

The closest residential community to the pond is the Columbia Lake Townhouses complex. The complex is located approximately one kilometre away from the pond, near the intersection of Columbia Road and Westmount Road. Although the proximity of residential developments may increase in the future, residential land use practices, such as the spraying of pesticides and the use of fertilizers on gardens, do not currently appear to be affecting the state of the pond.

1.4.2 Recreational

A variety of people, including University of Waterloo students and nearby residents, use the North Campus pond and its surrounding area for recreational activities such as walking and biking. However, because these are generally low impact activities and, based on observation, only a relatively small number of people appear to be engaging in such activities, minimal disturbance is caused to the pond and its surrounding areas.

1.4.3 Agricultural

The area surrounding the North Campus pond is primarily agricultural, with nearby fields presently consisting of corn. Surface water, resulting from heavy rains, percolates through the soil and is collected in tile drains located throughout the field. These drains are connected through an underground pipe system which directs the water into a storm drain located at the edge of the field. This storm drain also collects surface water, which was not absorbed by soil, as observed by eroded water pathways leading to the drain. All water collected in the storm drain is discharged through a large pipe into the North Campus pond.

Agricultural practices can have a significant impact on the state of the pond because field runoff is emptied directly into the pond through the connecting storm drain pipe. The uses of various fertilizers and pesticides on the crop could lead to contamination of the pond, and increased sedimentation may result from soil erosion occurring on the field. The above two effects alter both the physical and chemical properties of the pond and consequently cause a disturbance to its overall health.

1.4.4 Transportation

There are currently no roadways within the area of the pond. However, the proposed extension of Westmount Road will result in increased traffic throughout the area. With this extension, the North Campus pond will be located at the bottom of a hill, approximately 23m away from a frequently travelled regional road. Because of this close proximity, it is likely that at least some surface runoff from the road could enter the pond. This runoff would be particularly detrimental to the pond in the winter when sand and salt are used on the road. Sand from the road will increase sedimentation in the pond and chloride levels will increase as a result of the addition of road salt.

The extension of Westmount Road not only causes an increase in automotive traffic, but an increase in pedestrian traffic. More people are likely to enter into this area because it will provide them with a direct route between Columbia Road and Berenger Road. With this increased number of people in the area, human impact on the pond is likely to increase as well. For example, the littering of garbage in the area will likely increase.

1.5 Hydrological

Water is currently entering the pond through four different sources - groundwater, runoff, storm drain pipe effluent, and precipitation, and is exiting the pond through evaporation and overflows.

Groundwater is a complex issue, and the groundwater flows within the area have not been determined. However, it is understood that groundwater was the initial source of water for the pond, because the hole was left to naturally fill in to the level of the water table. Consequently, as groundwater levels rise and fall with precipitation, the pond's water level also rises and falls. This has resulted in a two-way flow of water (water enters the pond when groundwater levels are high, and leaves the pond when levels are low).

Precipitation is a straightforward flow into the pond. When it rains, the water level of the pond increases. Heavy rains may cause the pond's water level to rise high enough so that it overflows into the surrounding field. This was observed during our first sampling session on June 17, 1998, after a period of heavy rain.

The flow of runoff into the North Campus pond appears to occur from two sources. The first source of runoff is the storm drain pipe which directs both surface and subsurface water from the farmer’s field to the pond. The second source of runoff is the erosion of soil from the pond's surrounding banks. Because the banks of the pond are relatively steep and vegetation within the area is minimal, rainwater washes away all loose soils and inevitably runs directly into the pond.

Click here to see the storm drain

Outflows of water from the pond consist of both overflows and evaporation. With increased summer temperatures and with little shading provided by surrounding vegetation, the pond’s water level drops substantially. Following periods of intense heat, it was observed that the pond's water level dropped approximately 0.5m from the previously observed water level. This consequently exposed areas that are normally submerged under water.

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