New Study Shows Economic Value of Local Wetlands

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According to a new study by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and the University of Guelph, wetlands currently remove harmful phosphorus from Lake Simcoe and save local municipalities about $300,000 a year for this ecological service.  Despite efforts and a growing awareness of the benefits they provide, Ontario’s wetlands continue to be lost.

For Immediate Release                                                                                                

July 27, 2011 

Wetland loss in the Lake Simcoe watershed costs more than water quality!

Ducks Unlimited Canada study puts a dollar value on local wetlands.

Barrie, Ontario – July 27, 2011 – According to a new study by Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and the University of Guelph, wetlands currently remove harmful phosphorus from Lake Simcoe and save local municipalities about $300,000 a year for this ecological service.  Despite efforts and a growing awareness of the benefits they provide, Ontario’s wetlands continue to be lost.

The results of this study clearly identify that as wetlands continue to be lost, so will the benefits they provide. The Black River subwatershed of the Lake Simcoe basin – located in the regional municipalities of Durham and York - has already lost 3,647 hectares of its original wetlands, the equivalent to losing 33 hectares, or three times the size of Vaughan Mills Shopping Mall, every year since 1800.   If all of the remaining wetlands in this subwatershed were lost, the impacts would be startling:

•  260% increase in nitrogen loading, contributing to algae blooms which cause beach closures and impact public use of the lake.

•  891% increase in phosphorus loading - the equivalent to dumping 47 tonnes or 220,000 bags of lawn fertilizer into the river every year.

“This research clearly demonstrates that wetlands are critical to solving water quality problems in Lake Simcoe” says James Brennan, Manager Provincial Operations for Ducks Unlimited Canada “and unless wetland loss stops, it will be extremely difficult, and costly, to meet the Lake’s water quality goals. We need help to stop wetland loss and prevent further deterioration of Ontario’s water resources. The Ontario government needs to provide taxpayers with a solution backed by financial commitment to support the protection and restoration of our wetlands now.”

DUC’s study, supported by Lake Simcoe Clean-up Fund, the University of Guelph and the University of Alberta, builds on the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA) report that identified wetlands as providing an estimated $435 million in ecological goods and services to the Lake Simcoe watershed each year. 

“Further loss of wetlands in the Black River subwatershed will significantly increase phosphorous loading to Lake Simcoe and drastically affect the benefit of the financial investment in phosphorus removal in local water treatment facilities” says Shane Gabor, Research Biologist for DUC’s Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research “Losing just 2,088 hectares, approximately 25 per cent, of the remaining wetlands would cancel out the current annual phosphorous removal services of the Sutton Water Pollution Control Plant  and  losing another 52 hectares would counteract the additional removal capacity of the proposed $3.8 million plant upgrades.”

The impacts of wetland loss and water quality should be of concern to all Ontarians. Wetlands are a vital part of Ontario’s environmental and economic sustainability and overall quality of life.

To see the Black River wetland research factsheet and full report online, visit:www.ducks.ca/blackriver2011

Ducks Unlimited Canada is a private, non-profit organization that conserves, manages and restores wetlands and associated habitats for waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people. For more on DUC, go toducks.ca.

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For more information, contact:

Joanne Barbazza

Communications Coordinator, Program Support

Ducks Unlimited Canada

Barrie, Ontario, L4N 6C6

ph: (705) 721-4444 ext 240

email: j_barbazza@ducks.ca

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