Gail Martin, Independent Editor
A recent study conducted in the Canagagigue Creek, as it winds through the Chemtura property, shows a healthy variety of fish species.
Ryan Park, an aquatic ecologist at Stantec, the engineering firm that conducted the study, said that the fish population at Chemtura has remained steady, at around 25 different species, for the last number of years.
“It’s actually one of the best places we have to go to,” said Park. “The diversity is really large.”
Park said that his fellow biologists at Stantec actually vie for the chance to do the bi-annual fish monitoring study at Chemtura.
The work was conducted earlier this month, over the course of two days. Five Stantec biologists were on site on May 15 and 16, conducting the study using the Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol, a standard method used for studying and assessing creek populations.
During the study, biologists tallied the variety of fish found in the creek, and took sediment samples of the creek and collected benthic invertebrates, for additional laboratory study.
“We are looking for an overall change in conditions in the creek,” said Park.
The benthic invertebrates — the crab-like creatures that live at the bottom of creeks — are good indicators at the overall long-term water quality in the creek.
The sediment samples are also tested for their nutrient content — not for signs of contamination from historic waste disposal practices on the Chemtura site, said Park.
The study is conducted in two parts, with sampling taking place in the spring and in the summer (mid- to late August), looking at differences in temperature and water levels, and how this impacts the local fish population.
Park noted that this year’s study might show few differences between spring and summer, since the water levels in the Canagagigue area already unseasonably low.
The study will be presented, in its entirety, at a future Chemtura Public Advisory Committee. The next CPAC meeting is set for this Thursday, May 31, starting at 6 p.m.