Quinte Conservation is involved in several monitoring programs that collect scientific data to understand the changes affecting our natural areas and watercourses. We use the information collected to assess the ecological health of our watershed, track trends, and alert us to potential issues.

Water Quality Monitoring

Quinte Conservation is part of several provincial water monitoring programs that study the water quality and quantity in our in our watershed. These include:

The Ontario Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network (PWQMN)

The PWQMN collects monthly water quality information from rivers and streams at strategic locations throughout Ontario. We have been participating in this program for more than 50 years and continue to monitor water quality in the Moira River, Napanee Region, and the Prince Edward Region watersheds. The water samples we collect are sent to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) where they are analyzed for various general chemistry parameters such as, but not limited to:

  • metals
  • biochemical oxygen demand
  • mercury
  • suspended solids
  • dissolved and total nutrients
  • turbidity

Water quality data is regularly added to the MECP's Provincial (Stream) Water Quality Monitoring Network database. The information represents the wealth of historic and current surface water quality information, and allows individuals to view and search water quality data.

The Ontario Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network (PGMN)

The PGMN is a network of almost 400 wells across 38 Ontario watersheds. The Groundwater quality and quantity data collected assists in determining groundwater quality, aquifer extents, and ambient groundwater conditions across the province. Quinte Conservation tests samples from over 30 wells for pesticides, metals, volatile organics, and general chemistry. The goal is to assure safe drinking water supplies, while adding to our knowledge of groundwater studies.

The network also provides an early warning system for changes in water levels caused by climate conditions or human activities, and information on regional trends in groundwater quality. The groundwater level readings are taken hourly and are stored in a datalogger for either manual or remote automated download. The Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network information is maintained by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks and is made available for use by the partner conservation authorities.

The Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network (OBBN)

The OBBN is an environmental tool designed to use benthic (bottom-dwelling) organisms as indicators of stream health. These bottom-dwellers can be seen with the naked eye (macro) and are without backbones (invertebrates). Benthic macroinvertebrates are sensitive to environmental impacts and that is why their community structures are significant in determining the ecological health of aquatic ecosystems.

Other indicators of stream quality that are monitored through this program include:

  • Dissolved oxygen (mg/L)
  • pH level
  • conductivity (m S/cm)
  • Temperature

Quinte Conservation participates in this program by sampling streams in our watershed. The data gathered helps identify conditions of the stream. By tracking these sites long-term, we can later determine the conditions of various watersheds and sub-watersheds and detect changes like declines or increases in the water quality.

This Provincial program was co-operatively developed by:

  • Environment Canada Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN)
  • Environment Canada National Water Research Institute (NWRI)
  • Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation, and Parks (MOE)

We use the information gathered from these programs to check the conditions throughout the QC watersheds. Every five years we produce a Watershed Report Card, which is a summary on the state of our forests, surface water, and groundwater resources. Conservation authorities across Ontario develop the report cards to ensure consistent reporting across the province and to provide watershed residents with information on how to protect, enhance, and improve the precious resources that surround us.

Wetland monitoring and restoration

Coastal wetlands provide important habitat for fish, wetland dependent birds, amphibians, and other wildlife species.  Monitoring these systems result in valuable data collection used for rehabilitation, management, conservation, and protection measures.  Quinte Conservation recognizes the importance of monitoring and restoration of our Coastal wetlands. We currently monitor two Provincially Significant Wetlands (PSW) in the Bay of Quinte and they are Sawguin and Big Island.

The following describes what we've been doing to protect these natural resources.

Coastal wetland monitoring

Quinte Conservation along with the Bay of Quinte Remedial Action Plan (BQRAP) has been monitoring 15 coastal wetlands in the Bay of Quinte since 2006, following the Durham Region Coastal Wetland Protocol , we sample:

  • Bird and amphibian communities
  • Water quality
  • Aquatic macro-invertebrate communities
  • Submerged aquatic vegetation
  • Wetland fish communities

We use this information to monitor the health of our wetlands and to compare to other monitoring programs in the Great Lakes. The Bay of Quinte Wetland Monitoring Program provides valuable information for future management and protection of coastal wetlands and it is important to continue this research.    

Coastal wetland restoration

The diverse and fertile fish habitats in the Bay of Quinte coastal wetlands are notable. However, they have seen a decline due to factors like water level guidelines and nutrient runoff. This has encouraged the growth of solid cattail stands, which can have negative impacts on wetland health, like hydrological function, choking out native plants that feed wetland-dependent species, and reducing fish passage and habitat. Quinte Conservation has been involved in two large coastal wetland restoration projects in Sawguin Provincially Significant Wetland (PSW) and Big Island Provincially Significant Wetland.