Streams and rivers are the arteries and veins of the Earth and they are closely linked with the landscape in which they are found. Streams can be distinguished from lakes by their fast flowing water and their input of organic matter from the lands surrounding (drainage basin; Horne and Goldman 1994). Streams consist of mostly fast flowing water (lotic = flowing water vs. lentic = calm water) that flows over rocks and gravel forming riffles. Riffles are areas of shallow water where water moves quickly over rocks or gravel. Pools form in areas of deep, slow-moving water often at a bend in the stream. Streams of the Hamilton Region are considered to be “hard-water” streams because they flow over the limestone sediments of the escarpment (Horne and Goldman 1994). Major threats to streams include the removal of riparian vegetation (vegetation adjacent to the stream) for agricultural/urban development artificially increasing the stream temperature. Cultural eutrophication (the addition of excess phosphorus and nitrogen to an aquatic system) is also a problem in some streams. Excess phosphorus and nitrogen can come from anthropogenic sources such as sewage discharge and excess fertilizers being sent into streams (Horne and Goldman 1994).
What can you do to help?
Join the URBAN team as we sample the local streams. Conserve any existing riparian buffers (vegetation next to drainage ditches/creeks) associated with agricultural fields or plant native species next to streams where the vegetation was once removed. Limit the amount of impervious surfaces (pavement or concrete) on your property because higher amounts of impervious surfaces leads to increased run-off into streams and wetlands (McBean et al. 1996).