New report on the role of wetlands in removing phosphorus to protect lakes in Ontario
Barrie, Ont., Feb. 11, 2020 - Research conducted by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC)
helps build the case for large-scale wetland restoration that harnesses the power
of natural infrastructure for water quality improvement in agricultural landscapes.
As part of our conservation program in the Lake Erie watershed, DUC is quantifying
the extent to which restored wetlands capture phosphorus from surface-water runoff
before it enters downstream rivers and lakes. Researchers assessed eight recently
restored wetlands for one full year, measuring their nutrient-capture efficiency
in all seasons.
Our findings indicate that the restored wetlands acted as "phosphorus sinks," retaining
nutrients in the wetland basins in all four seasons—regardless of the relative ages
of the restorations. Notably, the wetlands efficiently captured soluble reactive
phosphorus, generally referred to as SRP, which is the form of phosphorus found
in excess in Lake Erie.
Excess phosphorus is a main cause of the dangerous blue-green algae outbreaks that
increasingly affect rivers and lakes across Canada, the nation with the most freshwater
in the world. DUC is advancing the science on water quality in support of widespread
restoration of the most productive ecosystems in the world: wetlands.
DUC thanks the landowners who allowed their wetland restoration projects to be monitored
as part of the project. The study was led by the Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl
Research, DUC's research arm, and field work was conducted by the St. Clair Region
Conservation Authority. The project was funded in partnership with the Ontario Ministry
of Natural Resources and Forestry and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via the
North American Wetlands Conservation Act.
Mike Harris, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
and Andrea Khanjin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Environment, Conservation
and Parks joined DUC with the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority today to release
the results of research that advances the science on the use of wetlands as "natural
infrastructure" to improve water quality in agricultural landscapes.
"Ducks Unlimited Canada's research uncovers the unique relationships among wetlands,
watershed health and biodiversity, and is central to helping us understand the potential
impacts of our conservation actions," said Phil Holst, director for Ducks Unlimited
Canada and chair of DUC's national conservation committee. "It also equips us with
the data we need to take a meaningful message to Canadians about the role of wetlands
as a natural solution for clean water."
"Ducks Unlimited Canada is a trusted partner for the Ministry of Natural Resources
and Forestry," said Mike Harris, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural
Resources and Forestry. "The ministry and Ducks Unlimited Canada have worked together
on a number of significant projects that included creating new wetlands, as well
as restoring existing wetlands, within the Lake Erie basin. Minister Yakabuski and
I appreciate the hardworking volunteers and staff who have contributed to these
"The research Ducks Unlimited Canada has conducted in Lake Erie provides valuable
insights on how we can work together to protect and restore our Great Lakes and
inland waters for future generations," said Andrea Khanjin, Parliamentary Assistant
to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. "Our government is proud
to work with partners like Ducks Unlimited to address the problem of excess phosphorus
so we can improve water quality and support a healthy, clean environment as outlined
in our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan."
"We are all aware of the algae issue that plagues Lake Erie every year," said Erin
Carroll, director of biology for St. Clair Region Conservation Authority. "And we
are all working together to come up with solutions to this problem. Our positive
partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada has helped us increase wetland cover in
our region which not only improves local water quality but also reduces flood risk
and provides important habitat for wildlife."
The summary and the full report, Determining the Nutrient Retention Capacity of
Newly Restored Wetlands in Southwestern Ontario, are
About Ducks Unlimited Canada
Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) delivers wetland conservation that benefits
every Canadian. We keep the water in your lakes and rivers clean. We protect your
community from the effects of flood and drought. We save wildlife and special natural
places. We use science to find solutions to the most important environmental issues
of the day and we collaborate with people who are helping create a healthier world.
The wetlands we save aren't just for ducks; they're for all of us.