Water quality and fish populations of the Welland River, Ontario /
Steele, Peter Owen.
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The water quality and fish populations of the Welland River were observed to decline with distance downstream. This coincided with increased agricultural , domestic and industrial waste loadings. The river upstream of the City of Welland received considerable loadings from agricultural sources. Centrarchids, sciaenids, ictalurids, cyprinids and esocids characterized this upper section of the river. Most of these species were tolerant of low dissolved oxygen concentrations and the high turbidity which prevailed there . The river near Port Robinson receives many industrial and domestic wastes as evidenced by the water quality data. The fish in this section were less abundant and the observed population was comprised almost solely of cyprinids. Further downstream, near Montrose, the Welland River received shock loads of chemical wastes that exceeded a specific conductance of ISiOOO ;umhos/cm. Few fish were captured at this site and those that were captured were considered to be transients. A review of the literature revealed that none of the common indices of water quality in use today could adequately predict the observed distributions. In addition to the above, the long-term trend (l3 yrs) of water quality of the lower Welland River revealed a gradual improvement. The major factor thought to be responsible for this improvement was the operation of the Welland Sewage Treatment Plant. The construction of the New Welland Ship Canal coincided with large fluctuations of the total solids and other parameters downstream. These conditions prevailed for a maximum of three years (1972- 1975)' Furthermore, spawning times and temperatures, geographic distributions, length-weight regressions and many other descriptive aspects of the ecology of some 26 species/ taxa of fish were obtained. Several of these species are rare or new to southern Ontario.