’50 in 50′ Series: Watershed Report Card – Even Watersheds get a Report Card (2007)

50in50

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!

Everyone is familiar with school report cards which communicate an assessment of a student’s work, progress, and conduct to parents and guardians. In response to increased public demand for easily understood environmental information, Conservation Ontario undertook a pilot study to develop standardized reporting across watersheds. Similar to a school report card, the Watershed Report Cards are intended to provide an overview on the current state of many of Ontario’s watersheds in terms of lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater, wetlands, and forest cover.

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In 2007, Lower Trent Conservation issued its first Watershed Report Card, using the standardized environmental indicators and grades developed by Conservation Ontario. Sources of information used to evaluate and grade the environmental indicators included: Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network, Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network, Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network, GIS Mapping Data, Southern Ontario Land Resource Information System, and Ontario Base Maps.WRC_2007

Watershed Report Cards help identify environmental problems and issues within local watersheds, identifying specific areas we need to protect, restore, or manage.

Based on the recommendation that Watershed Report Cards be released every five years, on March 22, 2018 Lower Trent Conservation, along with other Conservation Authorities across the Province, released its third Watershed Report Card.

With each report card, Lower Trent Conservation has gained a greater understanding of the state of the watershed region. Forest conditions within the Lower Trent watershed region generally ranked from good to fair, or Grade “B” to “C”. While the percentage of total forest cover across the entire watershed is above the minimum target set by Environment Canada, or Grade “B”, the amount of forest interior (larger forested areas) and riparian forest cover (forested shorelines on lakes, rivers, and streams) falls short.

Surface water quality grades, ranging from good to fair, were only assigned for 5 of 12 watersheds across the region. The assignment of grades for surface water quality, as well as groundwater quality and wetlands, was limited due to insufficient data.

The lack of data to fully evaluate and grade our entire watershed for all the indicators has been the consistent theme in our Watershed Report Cards over the last decade. Some monitoring programs had to be completely abandoned in the late 1990s/early 2000s when deep funding cuts from the provincial government gutted many Conservation Authority programs.

WRC_2013_cover

The good news is that, starting in 2018, nine new sampling sites will be added to the surface water monitoring program along with expanded water sample analysis. This means that Lower Trent Conservation will have sufficient data to fully grade surface water across the entire watershed region for the next Watershed Report Card in five years.

As Lower Trent Conservation continues to build on our knowledge and understanding of our watershed region and how it is changing, it is our hope that the next Watershed Report Card, in 5 years’ time, will provide an even better picture of the state of the Lower Trent watershed region.

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