Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

Zurich Drain Water Quality Enhancement Project

Summary report now available on Zurich Drain Water Quality Enhancement Project

The Zurich Drain Water Quality Enhancement Project [Download PDF by clicking on this link] aims to improve water quality in the Zurich Drain through the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs). Approaches used include education, outreach, watershed stewardship and water quality monitoring. A final report for the successful project summarizes stewardship activities and monitoring and can be downloaded at previous link.

Zurich-area residents help to improve water quality

Residents of Zurich and area have undertaken, or are in the process of completing, at least 17 individual projects to reduce contamination entering the Zurich Drain since the commencement of the Zurich Drain Water Quality Enhancement Project in March 2006, Ausable Bayfield Conservation  announced.

The landowner stewardship projects improve Lake Huron water quality by reducing contaminants reaching the drain.

The 17 projects have included buffers, eavestroughs, well upgrades and decommissioning, a cement yard, a septic system upgrade, and a manure storage upgrade. These are just the projects with which the ABCA has assisted. There are many other Zurich-area landowners already undertaking stewardship projects that have not been accounted for in the figure.

All of these landowners should be congratulated on their proactive efforts to protect and improve water quality in their watershed, said Mari Veliz, Healthy Watersheds Coordinator with the ABCA. "We would also like to thank the many others who invited us to their property to help initiate stewardship activities."

Water quality along the shore of Lake Huron has been an ongoing concern for many years. The many sources of pollutants to the lake include leakage from faulty private septic systems, bypasses from local municipal sewage treatment plants and agricultural and industrial runoff. Currently, grants are available from the Huron County Clean Water Project and the Environmental Farm Plan to assist farmers with funding of best management practices (BMP) projects in agricultural operations.

In 2006, further funding from Environment Canada (now Environment and Climate Change Canada) and an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant allowed for a more focused approach to watershed stewardship in the Zurich area. The goal of the Zurich Drain Water Quality Enhancement Project is to improve water quality with increased effort of outreach and stewardship activities.  Community volunteers have been visiting landowners to let them know about this project. Stewardship refers to the activities that take place on the ground, which help prevent contaminants from entering the surface water and groundwater.

Ausable Bayfield Conservation has been partnering with interested landowners to help identify stewardship projects that can be done on their property.  Once a project has been identified, ABCA works with the landowner to find funding to help cover the costs of these voluntary projects.

It is important to take advantage of these funding programs now while they are available, said Paul Klopp, who has undertaken multiple projects.

Klopp, along with John Vander Burgt, worked closely with the ABCA to provide outreach and technical assistance to Zurich-area landowners.

A report has now been finalized highlighting both the stewardship and assessment activities of the project, which Ausable Bayfield Conservation is hoping to take back to the landowners that have been involved, or those that would like more information.   

If you are interested in undertaking a water quality improvement project, or would like more information, please contact Mari Veliz at the ABCA at 519-235-2610 or toll-free at 1-888-286-2610 or e-mail her through the staff contacts tab of this website.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             Date of issue: June 6, 2008

Zurich Drain landowners receive EcoAction funding to enhance water quality in area

Wash water biofiltration systemFour landowners within the Zurich Drain watershed will be receiving EcoAction funds to undertake beneficial management practices (BMPs) on their properties to help improve local water quality.

Environment Canada's EcoAction Community Funding Program provides financial support to community groups that have positive impacts on the environment.  An application to the program was submitted as part of the continued efforts of the Zurich Drain Water Quality Enhancement Project. The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) was notified of approval of the application.

The Bluewater Shoreline Residents' Association (BSRA) has also contributed to these on-the-ground projects.

Five proposed BMP projects are slated to proceed as a result of the funding.

These projects would not be possible without EcoAction and without the dedicated commitment of the participating landowners, and the BSRA, to the overall goal of protecting and improving water quality within the Zurich Drain watershed,� said Hope Brock, ABCA Healthy Watersheds Technician.

The five BMPs include a tree planting project which saw 100 trees planted along the drain, a well upgrade project which will help protect groundwater resources, two eavestrough projects which will see the diversion of clean water away from manure and exercise yards, and a water filtration project. This latter project aims to filter contaminated water before it reaches the drain using a wood-chip trench. The wood chips will filter out sediments, while nutrients will be biodegraded on the wood-chip surfaces.    

Other in-kind donations to the project were received from the Huron Clean Water Project, the ABCA and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE). The MOE funds will be directed towards water quality monitoring within the drain, which will continue for the third consecutive year.

For more information about the EcoAction projects or the Zurich Drain Water Quality Enhancement Project, please contact Brynn Upsdell at the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority at 519-235-2610 or toll-free at 1-888-286-2610 or

News of spills may overshadow chronic contamination ... working to improve water quality falls on all of us

Date of issue: July 31, 2006

By Hope Brock, ABCA Water Resources Technician     

            It is an ideal time, in the wake of a recent manure spill upstream of St. Joseph, to remind watershed residents of the Zurich Drain Water Quality Enhancement Project currently taking place.

            The goal of this project is to improve water quality through the implementation of Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs). Some examples of BMPs include upgrading manure storage facilities, diverting clean water away from manure and exercise yards, restricting livestock access to watercourses, upgrading septic systems; upgrading and decommissioning wells; planting trees, shrubs and grasses along erodible land and watercourses; and establishing grassed waterways and catch basins to reduce erosion.

            The effects of a spill can have a significant impact on fisheries and water quality, however, numerous chronic, yet seemingly less catastrophic issues, also have the potential to degrade local water quality. 

            These everyday issues and concerns, such as faulty septic systems, manure runoff, municipal discharges, soil erosion, groundwater contamination through poor well casings or abandoned wells may not receive the attention a manure or chlorine spill garners, but they are certainly contributing factors and also deserve concern.  The responsibility to change our behaviour and mitigate impacts falls on all of us. When citizens take responsibility their local actions lead to incremental change that is necessary in improving water quality.  Some local actions, like the projects I mentioned at the beginning, have already been initiated by landowners throughout the Zurich Drain watershed.

            The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA), through funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, offers free technical assistance to landowners in reviewing their property to identify potential issues and linking them to grants to help complete the projects.  If you are interested in undertaking a water quality improvement project, or would like more information, please contact Hope Brock at the ABCA (519) 235-2610 or 1-888-286-2610. 

- Hope Brock is a Water Resources Technician with the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA).

ABCA to collect water quality data on World Water Monitoring Day

Date of issue: October 4, 2006

The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) will be joining local agencies in approximately 50 different countries in collecting water quality data as part of World Water Monitoring Day on Oct. 18.

ABCA Healthy Watersheds Specialist Mari Veliz and ABCA Water Resources Technician Hope Brock will be sampling water in the Zurich Drain that day. The information they collect will not only be added to their existing local databank but it will also be sent to a permanent worldwide database as part of World Water Monitoring Day (

The annual global event promotes watershed stewardship through education and outreach. Water is one of our most vital resources, said Veliz. "Monitoring our water quality is crucial to ensure clean and safe water for all uses."

The ABCA currently monitors water throughout the entire jurisdiction on a monthly basis. The local conservation agency also undertakes smaller watershed studies such as the Zurich Drain Water Quality Enhancement Project. This project aims to improve water quality through the implementation of land stewardship projects and Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs). 

Monitoring in this smaller watershed allows us to identify potential water-quality problems, and provides a baseline for comparison with future monitoring, said Hope Brock, ABCA Water Resources Technician. Many landowners have already initiated stewardship projects and we hope that continued efforts by watershed residents will result in improved water quality in the Zurich Drain.

Water stewardship is everyone's responsibility, said Veliz, and monitoring results need to be conveyed to the public.  The ABCA will share its knowledge with the public on Dec. 1 during the unveiling of its first watershed report cards. The publication is one of Sixty Projects for Sixty Years during ABCA's 60th Anniversary celebrations in 2006. 

These report cards not only summarize water quality data for the entire watershed, but also attempt to provide individual landowners, municipalities and organizations with practical approaches to improve water quality conditions. Look for these at the end of the year and see how you can improve water quality in your area.

If you are interested in undertaking a water quality improvement project or would like more information regarding the Zurich Drain Water Quality Enhancement Project or the Watershed Report Cards, please contact Ausable Bayfield Conservation at 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.

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