Substrate Classification of St Marys River to Support Future Ecosystem Modeling


Water Quality

Project Description

Lake Superior regulation affects levels and flows in the lower St. Marys River. Unnatural changes in outflow can occur at the beginning of each month and the Board of Control has been working on methods to quantify impacts associated with regulation to better accommodate environmental objectives. One of these methods is the implementation of an Integrated Environmental Response Model (IERM) developed by Environment and Climate Change Canada. A pilot project covering the St Marys Rapids using the IERM was implemented in September 2017. An IERM of the entire St Marys River will be proposed by the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management Committee in the future to quantify ecological impacts throughout the entire river. The IERM relies on many data sources including bathymetry, hydrodynamics, biological data and substrate and vegetation characterization. The lower St Marys has a start on most of the required data to build an IERM. However, no known substrate or vegetation classification data are available. This project is to collect side scan sonar imagery and sufficient surficial grab samples over selected portions of the lower St Marys River to help with substrate and habitat classification. Areas will be selected to coincide with locations in the river that have complete enough data (except for substrate and vegetation classification) to build an IERM, as well as locations that make sense from an ecological perspective.