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Surface Water Quality

As part of CLOCA’s long-term watershed health monitoring, water quality is assessed through both chemical and biological sampling. In general, sampling for chemical and physical parameters measures stressors (i.e., environmental contamination), whereas biological sampling measures ecological effects.

The Ministry of Environment operates the Provincial Surface Water Quality Monitoring Network (PWQMN) across the province. CLOCA assists in this program by collecting the samples on monthly intervals from April through November.

Surface Water Quality
Sampling at Black Creek Photo: CLOCA

The samples are analysed for a range of water quality indicators including temperature, pH, conductivitiy, turbidity, suspended solids, major ions, nutrients, metals and pesticides in order to screen overall water quality.

CLOCA currently collects water samples at the following sites;

Map of Surface Water Quality Locations (PDF - 496 K)

Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network

Biological surveys involve sampling creatures, such as benthic macroinvertebrates and fish, found living within the aquatic environment. Benthic macroinvertebrates, “aquatic bugs? make good health indicators of aquatic ecosystems for a number of reasons:

  • they generally have limited mobility that makes them vulnerable to many creek stresses that may occur;
  • they have short life cycles;
  • they are easily collected and identified;
  • and they exist pretty much everywhere.

Consistent with other types of biological sampling, certain species of invertebrates have specific tolerances to various stresses and are referred to as indicator species. Therefore, the presence or absence of these indicator species can be related to the quality of the water.

In order to coordinate long-term monitoring efforts CLOCA has joined the Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network (OBBN). This provincial network will allow practioners to follow a standardized methodology, share resources and receive technical support.

OBBN - Developing Aquatic Biomonitoring Partnerships in Ontario


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