5.1 Assessment of Current Conditions
At present the North Campus Pond has some identifiable problems. These were cataloged during the tests that were performed on the pond, and subsequent research on the surrounding area. The major problems include the current slope of the pond's banks, lack of aquatic vegetation, the carp population, and the proposed Westmount road extension.
The restoration of the North Campus Pond can be aided by a study of a similar type of aquatic ecosystem that is known to be in pristine condition. This will help in determining what the ultimate picture of the North Campus Pond should look like. As well, the restoration plan for the pond should include necessary biophysical site improvements, the most cost-effective way in which to achieve the restoration, appropriate plant materials to assist in the restoration, and planning for the maintenance of the site during the project.
The slopes of the pond are not suitable and must be changed. The steep slopes provide less area at the appropriate elevations and with appropriate hydrology for wetland vegetation to become established (Kentula 1993). The dynamic slope is a result of rill and interil erosion (Agassi, 1996). The bank slopes should be as gradual as possible, increasing the amount of transitional area and the possibility for vegetation zonation along the moisture gradient extending down from the upland edge (Kentula 1993). A suitable slope for the North Campus Pond is approximately 1:15m for all slopes. The current slope of the pond is 6:15m. This occurs at the northeast slope along the fence line (Couture, 1998). The problem of slope leveling can be accomplished either by a bulldozer, or by hand. The later may involve more hours of labour, however the alternative method of bulldozing the slopes may do more harm than good. It is recommended that the lessening of the slopes of the pond be done by hand.
As mentioned earlier, referring to a study on a similar aquatic ecosystem will provide an ecological "blueprint" for re-vegetation. The vegetation community desired for the restoration of the North Campus Pond should include those species that occur on local, natural wetlands of the same type. In addition, the community planted on the project should be "low maintenance." For example, it should be composed of plants that grow well and reproduce at the given location in the particular climate with minimum care, and remain free of serious disease or insect pests (Stark 1972). Once planted, the new colony of vegetation will help stabilize the bank by lessening erosion. The new vegetation will also aid in controlling nutrient levels in the pond, as well as acting as a biological sink for the chemicals found in the water; helping to biodegrade these compounds.
After a visit to Big Creek Biota, a native wetland nursery located in Walsingham, Ontario, Paul Morris, owner of the nursery, recommended several species. The two species- Sagittaria latifolia (common arrowhead), and Scirpus validus (softstem bulrush) were recommended as useful plants for the renewal of the North Campus Pond. Mr. Morris stated that the softstem bulrush is proficient at absorbing toxins from the surrounding area, and the common arrowhead has similar properties. Mr. Morris went on to say that he never recommends cattails for wetland restoration projects. Both the common arrowhead and the softstem bulrush are available for purchasing at the wetland nursery.
It is recommended that the alien species identified around the pond (i.e. Vipers Bugloss, Colts Foot and Cow Vetch) should be removed, as they are not indigenous to the area. However, the plants identified as native species should remain in tact. This is a main reason the slopes should be reduced by hand, as a bulldozer would not leave any vegetation remaining.
It was discovered that carp were artificially placed in the North Campus Pond. Hamish Duthie has concluded that the carp are much to blame for the ponds' poor quality and is recommending the complete removal of the species. However, the removal technique suggested by Professor Duthie requires that a chemical toxicant, known as rotenone, be applied to the pond. According to Duthie, this poison has a half-life of only five days, at which time it becomes totally benign. Along with killing the carp, Duthie stated that the rotenone would have serious effects on the colonies of invertebrates that inhabit the pond, killing the majority of species present. The amphibian population may be affected as well (Cooke, Interview). This procedure does not promote sustainability in the pond, or on the UW campus.
A more sustainable recommendation would be a late fall netting of the carp. Choosing this time, according to Duthie will enable the new of the year to grow to a sufficient size and be caught in the net. The exact netting procedure recommended is a beach seine. This type of netting practice is commonly used in shallow water where the net wall can extend from the surface to the bottom (Murphy, 1996). Two people starting at one end of the pond and setting the net can perform this method. They would then pull the seine to the far side of the pond and the wings of the net then brought together. The catch is then hauled on shore where it can be collected (Murphy, 1996). A further recommendation may be to leave the fish population in the pond, depending on possible future studies conducted on them.
5.5 Westmount Road Extension
As mentioned earlier, the planned Westmount road extension will impact the pond. The extension runs along the northwest bank of the North Campus Pond. This will create a serious problem regarding surface run-off. The Region of Waterloo should be made aware of the pond and the restoration project. It is recommended that the city direct the drainage from the road away from the pond. Exact plans as to the redirection of surface run-off from the proposed road extension will need further study into that subject. Also, the use of sand and salt in the winter months should be monitored and kept to a minimum. This will prevent the pond from becoming contaminated with surface run-off. The fence that runs along the proposed extension may help in reducing general access to the pond. It is recommended that this fence stay in place to restrict unnecessary visits to the site. This will help to prevent litter and other such related problems.
Due to the recent identification of two chemicals found in the North Campus pond as a result of pesticides used on the adjacent farmer's field, we feel that further investigations should be conducted. More pesticides and fertilizers should be tested for within the pond before restoration occurs. If additional chemicals are present at unsafe levels, we feel that measures should be taken to prevent the continued accumulation of pesticides. Once the input of chemicals into the pond is ceased, actions should be taken to remove remaining pesticides from within the pond.
If the necessary funds cannot be provided for this clean up plan, alternative uses of the pond should be explored. A suggestion was made by Larry Lamb to use the pond as part of the storm water management plan for the Westmount Road extension. Overall, if unsafe levels of chemicals are present in the pond, measures should be taken to secure the area.
The implementation of the restoration project for the North Campus Pond is an interdisciplinary task. Classes in both the Environment and Resource Studies and Biology programs should take part in the project. It was suggested that the course ERS 375Q, Restoration Ecology, could undertake the implementation of the restoration project. WATgreen and the University administration should be involved with the pond's restoration.
Most wetland restoration projects do not have specified goals, complicating efforts to evaluate "success" (Kentula, 1993). By using the above recommendations to help establish specific goals and objectives, the restoration of the North Campus Pond can become a reality.
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