MVCA Checks Up on the Watershed
Watershed Report Cards provide a CHECK UP on the current state of many of Ontario’s watersheds in terms of lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater and forest conditions. The report cards report on three resource categories: surface water quality, forest conditions, and groundwater quality. The purpose of the report cards is to inform people living in Ontario about local conditions and to provide a management and evaluation tool for Conservation Authorities and other practitioners to measure environmental change and target programs.
Mississippi Watershed Results
In 2013, the Mississippi Valley Watershed achieved an A grade overall on its report card this cycle. However, there are some areas where there is room for improvement. While our forest conditions received an excellent grade the surface water and riparian (forested shoreline) categories rated B’s overall with some subwatersheds showing C grades.
These lower water quality and riparian grades can be linked as surface water quality is dependent somewhat on the filtering properties of a well -vegetated shoreline. Topography does play a role in the forest and riparian conditions of the eastern part of the watershed as it is a more agriculture-rich and residential area while the western region is situated on the Canadian Shield and less populated. The good thing about these scores is that they can be improved upon through relatively simple actions such as riparian tree and shrub plantings that can done on a small scale on private land. MVCA is reaching out to private landowners to help them play a role in improving the health of the watershed through a free shoreline plating program, lake stewardship planning help, and community based shoreline stewardship initiatives.
Why CAs monitor their watersheds
Conservation Authorities have been monitoring and assessing local conditions across Ontario for years and these report cards bring that information to the general public in a very user-friendly, informative way which we hope will help all of us make good decisions about how to protect important water and land resources that we rely on every day.
The report cards specifically look at how water and land resources are connected to each other and how our actions impact the health of those resources.
Watershed reporting helps to communicate baseline information on watershed health, to identify local and regional differences, and to show us where to target our efforts for the most impact.
Examples of activities that Conservation Authorities, landowners and their partners do to improve conditions in local watersheds include:
- watershed planning
- stewardship initiatives such as tree planting
- rural water quality activities,
- water conservation programs
- flood and erosion control
- stormwater management
- green infrastructure
Local Solutions for Local Challenges
Ontario’s water and land resources provide important ecological, economic and societal benefits and should be protected. Forests, lakes, rivers, natural spaces, wetlands, soils, plants and animals are all necessary for clean air, safe drinking water, sustainable water supplies, food, fuel, energy and most important, healthy bodies and minds.
Challenges such as urbanization and climate change significantly impact the health and resiliency of our watersheds which we need in order to adapt to changing global and local conditions. In order to plan how to protect these important resources, it’s critical to monitor conditions and then analyze them in order to find out what it’s telling us about changing conditions in local watersheds.