Quinte waters in the broader context of the Great Lakes

An examination of of some historical and contemporary aspects; shipping and the environment [*]


Pollution continues to pose a problem in the Bay of Quinte, but the diligent actions of "the Big Cleanup" and others have helped to restore the Bay’s health. Phosphorus loads from sewage treatment plants have decreased by 50% from 1986 to 200248. Farming practices have improved at 400 farms in the area, preventing over 16 500 kg of phosphorus from polluting the Bay49. Forty-nine hectares of farmland in sensitive riverside areas have been retired from agricultural use50. PCB concentrations were measured as being 5-10 times less in 1998 than they were in 198051.

water pollution

[click image to enlarge]

The Bay of Quinte was still considered an "area of concern" in 2003, but most goals from "the Big Cleanup" are closer to being realized52. The Clean Water Act came into effect in July 2006, and its legislation was inspired in part by the E. coli drinking water scandal in Walkerton, Ontario. Over 2,300 citizens of Walkerton became ill after drinking water was found to be contaminated with the manure spread of a nearby farm. The Walkerton disaster might have been preventable if the chlorine levels of the water had been monitored daily. The Clean Water Act’s legislation focuses on protecting municipal drinking water supplies. As part of the Clean Water Act, $7 million dollars in funding goes to the Source Protection Program in 2007-2008, where municipal Source Protection Committees are formed to create location-specific water protection plans53. Of the $7 million dollars, $5 million will be used to "support early action to protect municipal drinking water sources such as wellhead protection areas and intake protection zones"54. $2 million will be used for public education on the Clean Water Act. The Ontario Drinking Water Stewardship Program is being funded by $21 million dollars over three years beginning in 2008. The $21 million is allocated to help rural property owners, farmers and small business owners eliminate any threat they provide to their municipality’s drinking water55. The Clean Water Act demonstrates the Ontario Government’s support for water quality initiatives, but it is not guaranteed to solve the pollution problem.


The Bay of Quinte is in better health in 2007 than it was in 1987, or even 1997. But it is still essential to treat all water with respect. Citizens need to be educated about the source of their water and realize that no action, however small is without consequence. Seeing that animals are not defecating near water and returning expired pharmaceuticals to the pharmacy instead of flushing them down the toilet are two simple actions that will help to discourage polluting in the Bay of Quinte. When all citizens work together and demand the necessity of clean water, it will come. If the funding from the Clean Water Act is used appropriately to protect water in the Quinte area and "the Big Cleanup" continues to see positive results, the Bay of Quinte should be de-listed as a Great Lakes "area of concern" in 2010 56.

[Review 2020]     These predictions for the future were great in 2007 but in the past 13 years a lot has changed.

[Review 2020]     For more current information one may wish to reference the new Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (further amendments in 2019), Ontario’s Great Lakes Protection Act (2015), and the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes (the “legislation” that guides federal-provincial action around the GLWQA):


48 [back] The Big Cleanup: Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan. 30 Sep. 2007 http://www.bqrap.ca/progress.htm
51 [back] Peter Kendall, "On the Record," Let’s Talk Green Nov/Dec. 1998: 8-11.
52 [back] Canada’s RAP Progress Report 2003, 20 Sep. 2007 http://www.on.ec.gc.ca/water/raps/report_2003/Bay_e.html
54 [back] Clean Water Act Funding, 2007. 30 Sept. 2007 http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/programs/6332e.php
55 [back] Clean Water Act Funding.
56 [back] Craggs The Intelligencer.

* [back] - This project was developed by Isabel Slone (one of the Society's 2007 "summer students") and was in part funded with a grant from Young Canada Works, in part with a grant from the Municipality of the County of Prince Edward, and in part with this Society's research funds.