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Sediment Quality Assessment and Management: Insight and Progress Edited by M. Munawar© 2003 Ecovision World Monograph Series Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management Society Multi-trophic bioassessment of stressed “Areas of Concern” of the Lake Erie watershed M. Munawar1 , I. F. Munawar2 , M. Burley1 , S. Carou1 , H. Niblock1 1 Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada Centre for Inland Waters, 867 Lakeshore Road, Burlington, Ontario, L7R 4A6, Canada 2 Plankton Canada, Burlington, ON, Canada Keywords: sediment, primary production, bioassay, nutrients, contaminants, toxicity Introduction The Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs) have been defined as geographic areas that fail to meet the general or specific objectives of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement where such failure has caused or is likely to cause impairment of beneficial use or the area’s ability to support aquatic life (Hartig and Zarull, 1992). Forty two degraded areas have been designated as AOCs in the Great Lakes basin. Seven of these AOCs are located in the Lake Erie watershed. There are 14 beneficial uses listed in the Agreement. Impairment of beneficial use is defined by the Agreement as a change in the physical, chemical or biological integrity sufficient to cause any one of the following: 1)Restrictionsonfishandwildlifeconsumption,2)taintingoffishandwildlife flavour, 3) degradation of fish and wildlife populations, 4) fish tumours or other deformities, 5) bird or animal deformities or reproductive problems, 6) degradation of benthos, 7) restrictions on dredging activities, 8) eutrophication or undesirable algae, 9) restrictions on drinking water consumption, or taste or odour problems, 10) beach closings, 11) degradation of aesthetics, 12) added costs to agriculture or industry, 13) degradation of phytoplankton and zooplankton populations, 14) loss of fish and wildlife habitat (Hartig and Zarull, 1992; 170 The AOCs are stressed and degraded nearshore ecosystems which owe their existence and definition to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreements between Canada and the United States (GLWQA, 1972, 1987) and which are governed by the International Joint Commission (IJC). The GLWQAs were established by both the Governments to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Great Lakes ecosystem. Both the countries adopted objectives to assess water quality. Later, a policy of zero discharge and virtual elimination of eleven hazardous persistent contaminants was recommended. As per the GLWQ Agreements, the IJC was charged (Hartig and Zarull, 1992; Zarull and Hartig, 2001) with the mandate to: a) identify or recommend new or previously unrecognized polluted areas, that is, Areas of Concern, b) to review and comment on the adequacy of remedial action plans (RAPs) to restore impaired beneficial uses in existing AOCs through three stages of evaluation. Under this mandate, the Great Lakes Water Quality Board (GLWQB), which serves as the main advisor to the IJC, identified the need to develop scientifically based criteria and a protocol for their application to list and delist Areas of Concern (IJC, 1987). A special symposium “How clean is clean” was convened in 1988. This symposium recommended qualitative and quantitative criteria to define precisely the 14 beneficial use impairments identified in the Annex 2 of the GLWQA (Hartig et al., 1990). The Water Quality Board of the IJC then approved a set of listing/delisting criteria for AOCs. Listing and delisting criteria were intended to provide a “set of rules” which could be uniformly applied throughout the Great Lakes basin. These criteria were intended to serve the RAP program so as to attain maximum benefit from limited resources (Zarull and Hartig, 2001) towards restoration of AOCs. The present investigation was intended to provide simple, sensitive and inexpensive multi-trophic toxicological bases to these criteria in determining the status of health of various food-webs in Lake Erie AOCs. Methodology Sampling and chemical analysis: Water and sediment sampling was carried out in the spring or summer of 1992 at selected sites in the following AOCs of Lake Erie (Fig.1): Buffalo River (New York) Ashtabula River (Ohio) Cuyahoga River (Ohio) Black River (Ohio) Maumee River (Ohio) Detroit River (Michigan, Ontario) Wheatley Harbour (Ontario) Fig. 1. Lake Erie Areas of Concern 171 172 Chemical analysis of sediments for heavy metals and organic contaminants was completed in the spring only. Water samples were analyzed for nutrients and heavy metals (dissolved and total metals) for the summer samples only according to the protocol of Environment Canada (1995). The protocol followed for organic chemical analysis is given in Huestis et al. (1995). Bioassessment A multi-trophic bioassessment strategy was adopted according to the procedures and protocols described by Munawar et...


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