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Land use and climate change impact affects health of local watershed

MISSISSAUGA - Land use change and climate change are two major stressors on the Credit River Watershed ecosystem, based on data released in chapters three and four of Credit Valley Conservation’s (CVC) Watershed Health Report.

From 1996 to 2006, the population of the Credit River watershed grew to 758,000 from 573,000. This represents a 32 per cent increase or 185,000 people. Urbanization is highest in the lower watershed (Brampton and Mississauga) where the majority of people live.

“With continued population growth, there is more stress placed on the watershed’s environmental features and functions,” said Loveleen Clayton, acting supervisor of Watershed Monitoring and Reporting. “Urbanization increases the amount of hardened surfaces, like roads, rooftops and parking lots. Hardened surfaces also restrict water from infiltrating into the ground increasing the potential for flooding. As water travels over these hardened surfaces, pollution is picked up along the way and deposited in nearby streams.”

Similar to land use change, climate change is a stressor that can impact the natural balance of the Credit River watershed’s ecosystem. Climate change has been a natural phenomenon during Earth’s history, although over the past few decades there is evidence that human activities are rapidly changing Earth’s climate.

“Climate change models indicate southern Ontario can expect to see hotter and drier summers and warmer and wetter winters into the future,” added Clayton. “These models also indicate severe weather events, such as floods, storms, drought and fire may become more frequent and severe.”

Environment Canada provides long-term climate data in the watershed’s three physiographic zones (upper, middle and lower watershed). Patterns consistent with climate change predictions are beginning to emerge in the watershed. In particular, there is evidence of warmer than normal air temperatures over the last decade.

 To read more about how climate change and land use impact the Credit River watershed, visit www.creditvalleyca.ca/watershedhealthreport. The Integrated Watershed Monitoring Program (IWMP) issupported by CVC’s partners: Region of Halton, Region of Peel, County of Dufferin, County of Wellington, City of Brampton, City of Mississauga, Town of Caledon, Town of Erin, Town of Halton Hills, Town of Mono, Town of Orangeville, Township of Amaranth, Township of East Garafraxa, Environment Canada, Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Natural Resources.

February 22, 2013

 
 

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