’50 in 50′ Series: Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network – Monitoring Local Waterways (1970s)

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Lower Trent Conservation is celebrating its 50th anniversary! To commemorate this milestone occasion, we have released our ’50 in 50′ historical blog series. 

This special series features 50 articles highlighting some of the achievements, milestones and events of the past 50 years. We hope you enjoy them!

Ontario is rich in water resources. Our province borders four of the five Great Lakes, and we have more than a quarter of a million lakes, rivers, and streams. These water resources are the cornerstone of the quality of life that we enjoy in Ontario. Our health, the health of the environment, and our economic prosperity depend on them. They supply our drinking water and are home to many plant and animal communities. They also play a vital role in industry, agriculture, and recreation.

Monitoring our streams and rivers is crucial in order to assess the impact of human activities on surface water quality. Initiated in 1964, the Ontario government established the Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network to measure water quality in rivers and streams across the Province. Today, there are over 400 locations monitored in partnership with Ontario’s Conservation Authorities, participating municipalities, and provincial parks.

Surface Water Monitoring
Monitoring surface water in the Lower Trent Watershed

Within the Lower Trent watershed region, historic water quality records for several watercourses date back to 1964 (see Table 2 below). Most likely, this early water monitoring was conducted out of growing concern about the state of local waterways through the 1950s and 60s. Following its formation in 1968, Lower Trent Conservation joined the provincial monitoring network in the early 1970s.

Water samples are collected on a monthly basis from March through October. The samples are sent to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change laboratory where they are analyzed for general chemistry.

Water temperature monitoring equipment and sample collection bottles

Unfortunately, Lower Trent Conservation was forced to drop the monitoring program in 1999 following a dramatic cut in funding from the provincial government, but was able to rejoin the program in 2002.  Many sampling locations have changed over the years and have primarily focussed on the Trent River (see Tables 1 and 2 below). Over the past decade or so, Lower Trent Conservation has collected water samples at nine locations including the Trent River (3), Cold Creek (2), Mayhew Creek (1), Trout Creek (1), Salt Creek (1), and Percy/Burnley/Mill Creek (1).


Starting in 2018, a new surge of funds and energy will be directed at the monitoring program. Nine new sampling sites for Colborne Creek, Butler Creek, Barnum House Creek, Shelter Valley Creek, Squires Creek, Rawdon Creek, Meyer’s Creek, Burnley (Mill) Creek, and Rice Lake tributaries will be added to allow for a more comprehensive monitoring of watercourses across the entire watershed. As well, testing for E-coli will be carried out in addition to general chemistry for all 18 locations. The additional data will allow the Conservation Authority to provide a full report on surface water quality for the next Watershed Report Card (http://www.ltc.on.ca/watershed/wrc/) which is produced every 5 years to outline the state of surface water quality, along with forest and wetland resources.

Table 1: Active Monitoring Sites

Station No. Name Location First Year Total Years of Data Collection


Trent River Healy Falls Dam 1971 47
17002106802 Trent River Dixon Dr. Trenton 1972 46


Trent River Bridge at Glen Ross Rd. 1980 37
17002104602 Cold Creek CR 33, South Trent Street, Frankford 1971 47


Salt Creek CR 30, S of CR 29 1972 43
17002113302 Cold Creek CR 30, Orland 2002 16
17002112802 Mayhew Creek Front Street, Trenton 2002 16


17002115602 Trout Creek Simpson Street, Campbellford 2011 7
17002115702 Percy Creek Skinkle Road, Trent Hills 2016 2


Table 2: Inactive Monitoring Sites

Station No. Name Location First Year Last Year Total Years of Data Collection
06014100102 Grafton Creek Lakeshore Rd., S of Grafton 1964 1971 8
06014600102 Colborne Creek Lakeport Rd (CR 31), SW of Colborne 1964 1998 35
06014800102 Salem Creek Blyth Park Rd, S of CR 2, SE of Colborne 1964 1983 20
06015100102 Proctors Creek Harbour St, E of Cedar St, S of Brighton 1964 1998 35
06015200102 Smithfield Creek CR 64, E of Lawson Rd, SE of Brighton 1964 1990 27
17002100102 Trent River Dundas St, Reg Rd 2, Trenton 1964 1992 29
17002100202 Trent River At Dam, Campbellford 1964 1998 35
17002100402 Trent River Docks near Wellington St & Front St, Peterborough 1965 1998 34
17002100502 Trent River Dents Cottage Dock, 137m E of Bridge St, Hastings 1965 1993 29
06014200102 Shelter Valley Brook Bridge on Orchard Grove Rd, SE of Grafton 1971 1998 28
17002104502 Trent River Hwy 401 bridge, E of CR 33, N of Trenton 1971 1998 28
17002104702 Rawdon Creek Hastings CR 33, S of Stirling 1971 1998 28
06014200202 Shelter Valley Brook Shelter Valley Rd, N of Hwy 401 (AG-7) 1975 1977 3
17002112902 Mayhew Creek Fraser Rd, Murray Twp, W of Trenton 2002 2010 9
17002113102 Mill Creek Northumberland CR 29, Warkworth 2002 2010 9
17002113202 Mill Creek Banta Rd, Warkworth 2002 2010 9



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