Low water levels, erosion lead to stagnant water in Peche Island canals

·3 min read
Peche Island as seen in a 2019 file photo.  (Submitted by ERCA - image credit)
Peche Island as seen in a 2019 file photo. (Submitted by ERCA - image credit)

A natural phenomenon at Peche Island has created a buildup of sediment that is disrupting water flow — affecting some wildlife and frequent users of the city-owned park.

Low water levels and sediment in the area, which is likely the result of erosion, have created a "barrier beach" and cut off the channel that pushes water into the island's canals, according to Dan Krutsch. This barrier has caused the water in the island to become more still than usual, he said.

Krustch is part of a team of engineers who are performing restoration work on the island. This is being overseen by the City of Windsor and the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA).

"This condition has occurred many times in the past. It changes the environment, but I'm not sure it's that detrimental," Krutsch said.

In an interview with CBC Radio's Windsor Morning, Krutsch said this sort of situation has happened three other times since 2013.

While it's not unusual for the island, Krustch said this does lead to disruptions for people who want to kayak or canoe in the area.

"I don't think it's creating much of a problem, other than a nuisance that it's causing to some of the users that have enjoyed a different condition in the last couple of years," he said.

ERCA's chief administrative officer and secretary-treasurer Tim Bryne told CBC News the lack of water flow means there's a "high probability of fish impingement, negative impact on amphibians, frogs, turtles, and other species."

"But again some of that is an unfortunate occurrence naturally," Byrne said, adding he's not aware of any long-term studies that have monitored the impact over the years.

In order for this buildup to clear, Krustch said storms usually flush out the sediment, or water levels will need to rise.

LISTEN: Krustch talks about Peche Island's condition 

He said water levels are lower than they have been the past few years, and would need to go up to restore the flow.

The City of Windsor and ERCA are doing restoration work on the island to mitigate ongoing erosion. In particular, the city has started renovations on a bridge.

Some people who use the area thought the restoration work was creating the soil buildup, but Krustch said that wasn't the case.

For now, Bryne said it's a good time to study the area and figure out whether ERCA or the city should intervene, since this is a recurring issue.

"If it's worthy of further study, then certainly we'll be reaching out to GLIER [the University of Windsor's Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research] and others to say, 'maybe we should be taking a peek at this. Maybe we should have more long-term monitoring of it,'" he said.

"To undertake a consistent dredging or excavation of sandbars and sand bridging at a certain location, simply to maintain water in an isolated area, that's not appropriate either, because you start having a negative impact on the island itself, because you're introducing unnatural potential flow."

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