Water Quality Testing
Staff from Saugeen Conservation collect samples from a number of different waterways in the watershed.
An important program of the authority, ongoing sampling and data analysis is required to provide staff with an accurate picture of local water quality issues.
Surface Water Monitoring
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.
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 waterways within SVCA jurisdiction that empty directly into Lake Huron. Some water quality parameters are measured in the field when samples are taken, such as temperature and dissolved oxygen, while other parameters, such as nitrates, phosphorus and E. coli are measured at the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) 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.
SVCA participates in an ongoing nutrient monitoring program through the MOE. The program, initiated in 2004, was developed to examine the impact of farming practices on the streams dominated by agricultural use.
Two streams in the Saugeen watershed are included in this study with samples collected 15 - 20 times / year for chemistry as well as stream flow measurements.
A long-term goal of this project is to examine trends in water quality in relation to changing agricultural practices. a report on this study, to-date, is to be released by the MOE in 2012.
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 Ministry of the Environment'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 across Ontario and the Ministry of the Environment.
Rain gauges have also been added into the network at various well sites for a better understanding of the correlations between precipitation and groundwater levels.
Monitoring Program Results