On a crisp, bright afternoon in November, Halya Petzold, the Raisin Region Conservation Authority (RRCA)’s Resource Specialist, travels to sites across the RRCA’s watershed jurisdiction. She stops at nine different locations by the Raisin, Baudette, Garry, and Delisle rivers, where, armed with a state-of-the-art water quality probe, she harvests select data before capturing a water sample.
The RRCA repeats this process every month, from spring to fall, and has been doing so for nearly 50 years. “Regular monitoring is an invaluable tool to assess long-term changes in water quality,” says Petzold.
Since 1976, the RRCA has been a participant in Ontario’s Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network, which gathers surface water quality information from strategic locations across Ontario. Most of this data is collected by Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities, whose jurisdictions are organized on a watershed basis. This provides an advantage in coordinating the effort and complements other Conservation Authority monitoring programs.
At the nine riverside sites monitored by the RRCA, Petzold uses the submerged probe to measure oxygen levels, temperature, turbidity, and water conductivity. The collected water samples are sent to a lab for analysis.
“Consistently monitoring these sites helps us to better understand environmental trends in our watershed. This helps the RRCA to focus actions where they are needed the most,” says Matthew Levac, the RRCA’s Acting Watershed Planner.
Levac compares it to observing a person’s vital signs. “By consistently keeping our finger on the pulse of the watershed, from surface and ground water quality to forest conditions, we are able to use science to inform our decisions when offering programs and services such as sustainable development support, drinking water source protection, and landowner stewardship partnership initiatives.”
Water quality results from Ontario’s Provincial Water Quality Network are accessible to everyone through an online, interactive map. A link to the map and the RRCA’s Watershed Report Cards can be found at rrca.on.ca.
The RRCA is one of Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities, working to protect and restore the local environment, protect people and property from natural hazards, and support sustainable development activities throughout its watershed jurisdiction in Eastern Ontario.