Glendon Riverbank Project: Riverbank Failure

Partner: Awais Nasir

In our assigned Glendon riverbank area, there was no evidence of reinforcements made to combat riverbank failure. Riverbank failure is very much dependent on the degree and extent of erosion and on the location of the riverbank. Habitat fragmentation and buildings built too close to the bank of the river weights the bank and cause slumping (such as parking lots and driveways in our case). This happens as the weight of the building or structure surpasses the weight of the riverbank. Water saturation also increases failure of the riverbank as it reduces soils strength thus causing soil erosion. The presence of driveways in the region further weakens the bank by targeting runoff water directly into the riverbank.

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Soil erosion:

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While deep-rooted vegetation can increase the strength of river banks. The increased constant exposure to water has led to a specific type of erosion in this case called toe erosion. This can be seen in the pictures where roots of deep-rooted plants are left exposed and hanging.

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Riverbank overhang can be observed in the following pictures which has resulted in slumping.

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Overall, the pictures show evidence of erosion and slumping and it can be seen that no past reinforcements were noticed in the assigned riverbank area and the possible restoration goals should include installation of riprap blankets and windrow revetments. These two restoration methods will help in controlling slumping and overhang bank and help reduce riverbank erosion in long-term.

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Riprap blankets: They are made up of rocks and are arranged by the riverbank to inhibit soil erosion.

Windrow revetments: Stones put strategically either partially buried or on the ground level alongside an eroding bank.

The following picture is an example of a riverbank with the riprap and windrow revetment.

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Ancient Ayurveda herb: Withania somnifera

Withania somnifera is an Indian herb commonly known as Indian ginseng or Ashwagandha. It has been used in Ayurveda for more than 3000 years and is one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing.

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It helps reduce stress and anxiety by reducing cortisol levels. Moreover, it is an adaptogen and helps promote relaxation. It has been noted that continuous use of Withania somnifera also helps reduce brain-cell degeneration and progresses one’s learning and memory capabilities. Ashwagandha is also rich in antioxidants and the berries and roots of the plant are used as a topical ointment in the healing of burns, skin sores, and joint pains. The traditional use of Withania somnifera is to maintain agility in the body and to boost the immune system but it is also a potential anti-cancer agent as it suppresses the growth of tumors, carbuncles and ulcers. The plant is native to northern regions of India, North Africa, and the Middle East and dry climatic conditions are needed for its cultivation.

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Stop and Smell the Flowers… While You Still Can?

Ever wondered how bees find their pollinating flowers from so far away? How do they know where to go?

Flowers produce a mixture of scents that attract pollinators, allowing for the plant-insect interaction. This scent has the ability to travel long distances, and sensed by pollinators from over 900 metres away! However, this scent is quite volatile/unstable, and therefore can easily react with compounds such as the pollutants in the air (i.e. ozone, nitrate/hydroxyl radicals). Such reactions are unfavourable due to the fact that they cause the degradation of the scent, making it more difficult for pollinators to find the flowering plants.

The Fuentes et al. study looked at the how this chemical reaction between the scent and air pollutants would affect the pollinators ability to find the plant/in what capacity. This was done using a computer simulation that tracked bee foraging movements and the concentrations of the scent in the areas, keeping in mind the wind speeds and the amounts of air pollution.

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It was observed that the as the amount of air pollution increases, the lifetime of this needed scent decreases. This chemical change hindered the bees’ ability to detect the flowers in a certain timeframe. It increased their foraging time and decreased the amount of food collected.

Not only does this finding indicate a contributing factor to bee decline, but also suggests a decline in crop yield.

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This, amongst other reasons, has caused substantial declines in honeybee populations across the world, declining in 44% only in the last year (2015-2016).

References:

Jose D. Fuentes, Marcelo Chamecki, T’ai Roulston, Bicheng Chen, Kenneth R. Pratt. Air pollutants degrade floral scents and increase insect foraging times. Atmospheric Environment, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.07.002

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Glendon River Bank Restoration Project

Picture This: An absolutely perfect fall day….. The leaves on the trees are just changing colours, and Glendon looks absolutely picturesque. As Liron and I took in our surroundings, we realized this was going to be a great afternoon. With our stomachs full of coffee and bagels, we set out to find our stretch of the river bank.

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Our Section of the Riverbank

Our journey began with us becoming very lost, very quickly. We somehow had to figure out how we could access the Bayview segment of the river. We decided to walk along Bayview Avenue, and managed to get some wonderful bird’s eye view photos of the riverbank. The first thing that caught our attention were the stabilization structures implemented. At the first part of the river segment there were sheet piling walls, and an eroding mattress gabion. However these structures did not extend very far past the bridge, so they did not contain or help revitalize the majority of our river segment. When we travelled closer to the river, we could see that other parts of our segment had signs of slumping and erosion, with debris all along the bank. Also, right across from the bridge was a sewer pipe, and its waste was being directed straight into the river. Moreover, the majority of the bank that was photographed did not have any other stabilization structures in place as well.  All of these descriptions can be seen in the slide show below.

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Riverbank Structure (adapted from Li et al. 2002)

The majority of slumping and erosion that were seen along the riverbank were the sides of the Toe and Splash zone as illustrated above. Moreover, the first segment of the river facing Bayview Avenue had a lot of sedimentation along the toe zone as well.

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Now the first question Liron and I thought to ourselves, was why the riverbank was eroding in those places observed to begin with?

According to a study by Nichols (2009), when the city of Toronto underwent urbanization changes were made to the river. This included altering the river to be straighter in order to reduce spring flooding, however by doing so this created a lot of ecological problems (Nichols 2009). By channeling the river, this causes increased velocity of the water which can increase erosion and loss of biodiversity (Li & Eddleman, 2002). This occurs because soil erosion and sedimentation damages soil quality, and thus promotes loss of biodiversity of plant species along the river bank (Li & Eddleman, 2002).

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Stream Channelization Effects on Bank Stabilization and Biodiversity (Li et al. 2002)

Other factors that contribute to the erosion observed, include drainage into the river via a sewer pipe, which retains waste water and salt run off, that also contributes to further erosion of the soil from the riverbank (Cardini et al. 1978).

What can Glendon Do?

In terms of stabilizing the riverbank, there are many stabilization techniques that can be implemented. The first step that can be taken to reduce waste and pollution into the river would be to re-direct sewage and run off drainage into the river. This would help stabilize the river, as well as keeping it cleaner for the species that live and depend on the water.

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Shrubs used in Bioengineering to stabilize Riverbank 

Glendon can also implement Bioengineering methods such as live fascines, or planting shrubs and vegetation along the river bed, in order to stabilize and strengthen the quality of the soil, and to prevent and combat further slumping and erosion of the riverbank edges (Montgomery 1997 and Petry 2003). This is also beneficial because it helps promote more greenery and vegetation into the environment and can help increase the overall aesthetic and biodiversity of the riverbank (Montgomery 1997).

Therefore there are many ways Glendon can help stabilize and improve the riverbank, so that students and the community can continue to enjoy a historic part of Toronto’s nature!

References:

Image: https://www.bluestem.ca/willows-stabilization.htm

Cardini, D. B. and L. (1978). Toronto Field Naturalists Ravine Survey: Study Number Eight.

Li, M.-H., & Eddleman, K. E. (2002). Biotechnical engineering as an alternative to traditional engineering methods: A biotechnical streambank stabilization design approach. Landscape and Urban Planning, 60(4), 225–242. JOUR. http://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0169-2046(02)00057-9

Montgomery, D. R. (1997). River management:  What’s best on the banks? Nature, 388(6640), 328–329. JOUR.

Paul L. Nichols, « Constructing connections: urban forestry and toronto’s west don lands revitalization », Environnement Urbain / Urban Environment [En ligne], Volume 3 | 2009, mis en ligne le 09 septembre 2009, consulté le 15 décembre 2016. URL : http://eue.revues.org/981

Petry, S. (2003). Alternatives for Bank Stabilization- Literature Review.

 

 

 

 

 

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IMPACTS OF FLOODING IN TORONTO DUE TO CLIMATE CHANGE

There has been a lot of flooding in Canada in the past 50 years where 70% of it occurred after 1959, and of these 62% is related to snowmelt runoff, storm rainfall or a combination of the two (Gaur 2013). With climate change getting worse, “small and large watersheds are at high risks of flooding due to severe summer storms, extended periods of wet weather or snowmelt” (Canada Climate forum 2015). Flood-related water damage has also replaced fires as the number one cause of household insurance claims in Ontario (Moghal & Peddle 2016). Precipitation extremes are to increase significantly over Centural and Eastern NA (Aldrain et al. 2013). Climate change will significantly impact the community infrastructure like sanitation, energy supply, transportation, and telecommunication, while also impacting health services and environmental and ecosystem services (Revi et al. 2014). In the last 10 years, 31% of respondents of 481 Canadian municipalities showed that flooding resulted in significant damage to public and private property, and 40% noted that high rainfall also causes damages (Moghal & Peddle 2016). With that said, the current plans for flood risk are through stormwater infrastructure, berms, dykes, flood studies, development planning and emergency management (Moghal & Peddle 2016).

The couple of great papers that I found that would be useful for this project are the following:

Workikng group 1 contribution to the IPCC fifth assessment report climate change 2013: The physical science basis: http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/uploads/WGIAR5_WGI-12Doc2b_FinalDraft_Chapter14.pdf

Climate Change impact on Flood Hazard in the Grand River Basin, Ontario, Canada: http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2592&context=etd

At the Front Line of Flood: How Prepared are Ontario Communities? https://uwaterloo.ca/partners-for-action/sites/ca.partners-for-action/files/uploads/files/p4a_front_lines_of_the_flood_04jul16.pdf

The Impact of Climate Change on Canadian Municipalities and Infrastructure: http://www.climateforum.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/CCF-CCMunicipalities-PSD-April2015-FINAL.pdf

ECONOMICAL IMPLICATIONS

As a result of the widespread destruction and loss of habitat flooding in the major city will have, there are also various major economical implications. The current infrastructure of the major has demonstrated its lack of preparedness for the extreme weather that may be heading its way. As the looming threat of more severe floods continues to approach the city of Toronto will have to take action to ensure that the city remains functional. Many climate change programs have already begun collaborating with city officials to propose new changes in infrastructure and   flood management to mitigate the issue. Some proposed solutions include the construction of dams, channels, and reservoirs to provide relief with increased precipitation throughout the city. Many climatologists believe solutions like this will be enough to significantly reduce the risk to human lives and prevent any serious tragedies.

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This figure shows major infrastructure damage as a result of flooding in Toronto

While these solutions may sound promising, it will come at a major economical cost to the city of Toronto. Major infrastructure changes such as the building of dams comes at no small feat to the pocket. The building of an artificial dam to protect the city can cost in the billions, and is ultimately an expense the city may not be prepared to pay. Furthermore funding a project of this magnitude is sure to result in a need for greater public funding. This therefore means that is this method is pursued Torontonians can expect a major jump in taxes While an increase in taxes is never the answer to the working-class, it is clear that something must be done in Toronto to avoid the looming tragedy. Once a viable solution is reached that balances both safety and economical strain, the city of Toronto can hope by a dryer flood-free future.

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This figure shows one of the already existing dams in the city of toronto

References:

http://munkschool.utoronto.ca/imfg/uploads/334/imfg_perspectives_no11_costoverruns_matti_siemiatycki.pdf

http://www.climateforum.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/CCF-CCMunicipalities-PSD-April2015-FINAL.pdf

https://trca.ca/conservation/flood-risk-management/

http://www.blogto.com/city/2013/07/a_soggy_timeline_of_rain_and_flooding_in_toronto/

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5th blog Summary of Toronto’s Floods Since 2000

 

Applied Plant Ecology
Biol 4095
Glendon Assignment
Professor Dawn Bazely
By Bahar Afzalian Naeini
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Summary of Toronto’s Floods Since 2000

Since the year 2000, Toronto has been affected by a variety of significant flooding events. Many of these events have caused significant property damage and contributed to potential public health threats. In this blog post, I summarize Toronto’s flooding events since the year 2000 and comment on the current efforts by the city to improve flood responses.

In May of 2000, major flooding affected parts of Toronto after a soggy May in which 67.8 MMs of rain fell on the city (Bateman). 90 power outages were reported during the flood, along with 457 motor vehicle collisions, illustrating the extensive impact of the damage for residents (Bateman). The flooding witnessed during this storm was identified as ‘extreme’ by city authorities, and used as the basis to help inform planning and protection efforts for future flooding events (City of Toronto, Expansion of the Basement Flooding Protection Program, 1). Next, in August of 2005, a tornado outbreak led to major storms and flooding in many neighbourhoods across the city (Bateman). During the heavy period of flooding, the portion of Black Creek underlying Finch Avenue West flooded, causing a huge crater and millions of dollars in damages (Jane-Finch.com).

In June of 2012, flooding would strike Toronto again when the Union subway station was flooded following a period of heavy rains (Bateman). Heavy rains eventually caused the sewer system to exceed capacity, resulting in floods and the temporary closure of the station (Bateman). In May of 2013, the floods would return when the Don Valley flooded following heavy rains concentrated in a short period of time (Bateman). After more than 60 MMs of rain fell in a short time, the Don River south of Bloor experienced flooding, resulting in temporary closures to local transit systems (Bateman).

On July 8, 2013, major floods would again strike Toronto (City of Toronto, Impact of July, 8, 2013 Storm, 1). Following a period of thunderstorms and heavy rains, a number of different parts of the city experienced flooding, resulting in widespread property damage, along with causing power outages which affected residents and businesses (City of Toronto, Impact of July, 8, 2013 Storm, 1). This storm on July 8 further reinforced the need for the City to establish a strong plan to increase awareness of the potential for flooding risk, while also increasing their efforts aimed at preventing floods (Kellershohn).

The city’s current strategy to address water courses affecting private property involves sharing costs between private and public operators, as well as initiatives to transfer areas affected by flooding to public control when possible (Kellershohn). In addition, as a matter of policy, the city prioritizes efforts to clean up potential health and safety risks as soon as possible following flooding events to protect the public health (Kellershohn). The city has also developed an inspection program for the sewer system to ensure that blockages and potential problems can be identified before flooding events occur (Kellershohn). The significant number of major flooding events, along with the extensive damage seen since 2000 has prompted the city to establish a program aimed at reducing the risk of floods, combining education, awareness initiatives, and a variety of practical solutions aimed at lessening the risks associated with flooding.

References

Bateman, C. “A soggy timeline of rain and flooding in Toronto.” 9 July 2013. Blog To. <http://www.blogto.com/city/2013/07/a_soggy_timeline_of_rain_and_flooding_in_toronto/&gt;.

City of Toronto. “Expansion of the Basement Flooding Protection Program’s Priority Study Areas.” 30 October 2013. City of Toronto. <http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/ex/bgrd/backgroundfile-63918.pdf&gt;.

—. “Impact of July 8, 2013 storm on the City’s Sewer and Stormwater Systems.” September 2013. City of Toronto. <http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2013/pw/bgrd/backgroundfile-61363.pdf&gt;.

Jane-Finch.com. “Finch Flood – August 19, 2005.” 19 August 2005. Jane-Finch.com. <http://www.jane-finch.com/pictures/flood2005.htm&gt;.

Kellershohn, D. “Reducing Flood Risk in Toronto.” 19 February 2016. Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. <https://www.iclr.org/images/Kellerhson_ICLR_Presentation_160218_dk.pdf&gt;.

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Technology & Twitter In The Classroom

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For my final blog post I’ve decided to summarize how technology, mainly twitter and blog posts have enlightened my academic career.

Early into my secondary education we were always told to avoid using twitter and Facebook in classrooms, whether it was for social reasons or looking up information. Although that was possibly the right choice at the time for high school students, university is much more different.

If you’ve been lucky enough to take a class with Dr.Bazely you know how much she LOVES technology in the classroom, and for good reason.

Most of us consider twitter, blog posting and facebook platforms for socializing and recreational purposes, however when you begin to use these platforms for learning, general and mundane topics instantly become more interesting.

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For example, the use of technology can enhance education and make learning more fun and interesting through online discussions and the hunt for new and upcoming live information.

By being well versed in technology, student teacher relationships may also be enhanced with online credibility built between teachers and students. Twitter can overall help enhance student-student communication and student-teacher interactions.

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Shy students can especially benefit from twitter, blogposts and Facebook as some individuals would rather voice their ideas and opinions in a written form. This in turn may also create a collaborative learning environment.

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How to search for fast information on twitter:

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Using hashtags (#) can help you find information fast or add you into a collaborative group of others tweeting the same topics as you, its always best to double check all information found on twitter for accuracy!

Finding fast information:

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instant results!

If you have never tried twitter, facebook or reading blogs to find information on classroom topics or personal knowledge try it today!

Thank you for reading my final blog post for #Biol4095!

 

@AprilrumsBio

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