Marsh Creek Water Quality Monitoring

The objective of the Marsh Creek Water Quality Monitoring project in the past was to retrieve and record as much data as possible prior to the ceasing of the raw sewage outfalls. Following the cessation of raw sewage deposition in late 2014, the objectives of the project continue, with a mind toward evaluating the recovery the water quality since this historic Harbour Cleanup milestone. Collecting samples and testing the water take place in five locations in Lower Marsh Creek for four weeks each summer. These tests are performed by summer students from the Chemical Technology programme at the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC).

Six different tests are performed including testing pH and dissolved oxygen in the field, and testing total fecal coliform count, pH, orthophosphates and total suspended solids in the lab at NBCC. Analyses conducted by the ACAP Saint John have indicated substantial improvements to the quality of water in Marsh Creek in 2015. Sampling conducted during 2014 along the lowest 400 m of the creek - which has historically received the greatest volume of untreated municipal wastewater - showed decreases in faecal bacteria counts ranging from 95 to 99% from 2013. Consistent with 2014 data, there were several occurrences where fecal coliforms were within the Canadian guidelines for recreational water at particular sites in 2015. While none of the sites, on average, are below the Canadian guidelines of 200 CFU/100 mL for recreational waters, this year saw a dramatic decrease in fecal coliform counts at two sample sites. Three sites saw a large increase in fecal coliform bacteria which is believed to be due to overflow of municipal systems following a heavy rainfall event. With the results taken after the rainfall removed, the results represent a best case scenario of the water quality in Marsh Creek, demonstrating the positive direct impact of the cessation of raw sewage outfalls on the health of the watercourse.

While the levels of bacteria still remain on average above the federal recreational water safety guidelines of 200 counts/100 ml at all sites tested, the substantial improvements in water quality are very encouraging, suggesting that the City of Saint John’s ongoing efforts toward Harbour Cleanup are beginning to pay dividends. ACAP staff have also noted that, in addition to observed improvements in the clarity of the water in Marsh Creek, there have been no calls received from the public complaining about the offensive odours that have historically plagued this area of the city.


Hazen Creek Fish Passage Improvements

The alterations to Hazen Creek’s stream channels resulted in a degradation of the ecological integrity of the watershed, due in large part to the introduction of numerous culverts that created vertical drops that were impassable to the upstream movement of fish. ACAP Saint John’s watershed management plan for Hazen Creek identified these ‘hanging culverts’ as priority items for remediation. In 2012, the City of Saint John initiated five fish habitat compensation projects in Hazen Creek (that were proposed by ACAP in 2010) including the replacement [elimination] of two hanging culverts, the back flooding of one culvert via rock weirs, 30 m of bank stabilisation, and the insertion of a wing deflector to reduce stream braiding. The scale and scope of these projects, which included the use of large rock, rip-rap and log materials, necessitated the use of heavy equipment and in some cases the removal of existing riparian vegetation. The loss of vegetation and associated potential for erosion was compensated for through Hydroseeding, straw mulch and brush mats.

See some of the results of this amazing restoration project in the video below!


Courtenay Bay Fish Communities Monitoring

The objectives of this study were to expand our understanding of the environmental attributes of Courtenay Bay, the tidal marsh and estuary of the Marsh Creek watershed. Field studies were conducted to ascertain the occurrence of diadromous fishes and migratory birds within the watershed.

This project found that despite a diversity and abundance of aquatic and brackish habitats, there were no anadromous fishes in Marsh Creek upstream of the tide gates on the Courtenay Bay Causeway, whereas American eels were found to be ubiquitous throughout all subdrainages of the watershed. The report did not ascertain the reason for the lack of anadromous fishes; however, the occurrence of five flapper-style tide gates is considered a likely contributing factor. In 2015, one year after Harbour Cleanup was completed, Alewifes were caught for the first time by ACAP Saint John in Courtenay Bay below the tide gates.