Gilbert Creek Study
Tiny streams affect bigger rivers and eventually the lakes they drain into. The way we use the land in the drainage areas of little streams has a cumulative effect on the whole Grand River watershed and ultimately on our own health and well-being.
To help us understand how we affect watershed health, subwatershed studies are carried out on the drainage areas of smaller tributaries of the Grand. This is an important ecosystem-based approach to community planning. All aspects of the subwatershed system are studied, including the geology of the land, the streams, wetlands, forests, groundwater resources, and the present land uses. Many growing communities use subwatershed study information to make important decisions on future development and the protection of natural resources within their jurisdictions.
Gilbert Creek is a small, cold-water tributary of the Grand River near Paris, with a drainage basin of about 456 ha. Although most of the area is agricultural, some areas in the Town of Paris may be developed for residential use in the future. Gilbert Creek subwatershed was identified as environmentally sensitive and worth protecting. Before more development could take place, a study was needed to ensure that the existing natural features could be protected.
The study showed that this small watershed contains some remarkable features, including a healthy brook trout population, which is a rarity in southwestern Ontario. Other special features include a Provincially Significant Wetland, remnant oak savanna habitats, hardwood forests and numerous groundwater discharge areas. One shallow groundwater system supplies approximately 70% of the drinking water for the Town of Paris.
The Gilbert Creek subwatershed study is now complete and a management plan is being developed by Planning and Engineering Initiatives Ltd., Kitchener. Other partners in the study were the GRCA and Kelly Brant Homes, Ltd., of Brantford, the major funding partner.
Public input was an important part of the study, with comments solicited from residents of the area and also from review agencies like the GRCA, the Ministry of the Environment and the County of Brant. The work that was undertaken for Gilbert Creek is one small but vital part of the big picture of protecting and improving the health of the whole Grand River watershed.