Over the course of the year, Saugeen Conservation undertakes a number of water quality monitoring programs in order to stay informed about the condition of our local waterways.
As your local conservation authority, SVCA makes every attempt to keep you, the watershed residents, up to date on our latest research, developments and conclusions with respect to the health of the local watercourses.
Staff collect surface water chemistry samples 8 times a year on a monthly basis during ice-free periods, as part of a monitoring partnership with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).
The samples come from 29 stations located in all of the major subwatersheds of the Saugeen River, including both major tributaries and smaller waterways. In addition, staff also sample lake-fringe watercourses that empty directly into Lake Huron.
Some water quality parameters are measured in the field when samples are taken, such as temperature, conductivity and dissolved oxygen, while other parameters such as nitrates, phosphorus and E. coli are analyzed at the MOECC or private laboratories.
Information gained assists in determining long-term trends in the quality of surface water. It also assists in detecting general causes of water quality impairment and in evaluating the effectiveness of various conservation efforts.
Saugeen Conservation also has an in-depth biological monitoring program, the goal of which is to assess aquatic ecosystems using 'benthic macroinvertebrates' or aquatic organisms as indicators of water quality.
Benthic macroinvertebrates are large, bottom dwelling insects such as crustaceans, worms, mollusks and related organisms that live in the water. They are good indicators of water quality as they respond to changes in water quality (e.g., water pollution), after a relatively short exposure. Sampling of macroinvertebrates is being conducted using the Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network: Protocol Manual. Saugeen Conservation currently identifies specimens to the “Family” taxonomic level.
A network of groundwater monitoring wells has been established across the watershed to monitor the quality and quantity of the groundwater resources in the region.
Data from these wells is being used to make informed decisions about water testing and treatment of private wells, water allocation (under the MOECC's Permit To-Take-Water program), drinking water source protection planning and potential climate change impacts.
The data is also going to be used in the future as a low water response indicator for various stages of drought. Results from water quality sampling areas are used to inform municipalities of any exceedences of the Ontario Drinking Water Standards that might occur in aquifers within their jurisdiction.
The 17 wells established by the SVCA are part of the Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network (PGMN), and monitor 23 different aquifers.
The establishment of this province-wide network is a partnership between Conservation Authorities and the Ontario and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.
Rain gauges have also been added into the network at various well sites in order to gain a better understanding of the correlations between precipitation and groundwater levels.
Watershed Report Cards are excellent tools for both Conservation Authorities and watershed residents in that they present vast amounts of research and technical data into an easy-to-read format which allows everyone to view the same snapshot of local environmental health!
Monitoring Helps Us To:
* Identify current issues and possibly future ones;
* Focus management or stewardship programs;
* Track progress over time.
Due to the size of the Saugeen Conservation jurisdiction, the area was divided up into 10 subwatersheds.