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2018 Watershed Report Card provides a look at the environmental health of the local watershed

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Conservation Halton today released its 2018 Watershed Report Card as part of a province wide release of watershed report cards by conservation authorities on World Water Day. The report card has grades on local environmental health on four key measurements:

  • Forest Conditions,
  • Groundwater Quality,
  • Impervious Land Cover
  • and Surface Water Quality.

Pollution of streams in the watershed is one of the key issues noted in the Watershed Report Card. Pollutants and soils run off fields, roads and yards during rain or snowmelt, entering streams or being absorbed into groundwater. This has been an ongoing issue in Conservation Halton’s watershed based on several factors, including the amount of impervious land cover in urban areas.

Watershed Report Cards are produced by Ontario’s Conservation Authorities every five years and provide an overview of the health of the watershed. Patterns in Conservation Halton’s watershed have stayed close to the same as what they were in the 2013 Watershed Report Card. More information, including a copy of Conservation Halton’s Watershed Report Card can be found online at www.conservationhalton.ca/watershed-report-card, where you can also find a Watershed Report Card Story Map with more detail and information.

Measuring helps to identify healthy and ecologically important areas which require protection or enhancement. The grading scale is as follows, A - Excellent; B - Good; C - Fair; D - Poor; and F - Very Poor. Here is some more detail on the four areas of measurement:

  • Forest Condition scores ranged from A to F with mostly D grades. The majority of forest cover is found above the Niagara Escarpment away from urban areas and where agricultural activities are limited.
  • Conservation Halton monitored 10 Groundwater wells across the watershed for chloride and nitrate. The grades ranged from A to F, with mostly A grades.
  • Impervious Land Cover grades ranged from A to F with areas near or above the Niagara Escarpment, which have more natural cover, scoring higher, while urban areas, particularly older areas, scored lower.
  • Surface Water Quality scores in the watershed ranged from B to F. Subwatersheds with lower scores tend to be in agricultural or urban areas, whereas subwatersheds with higher scores tend to be in areas with more natural cover, including higher amounts of forest cover.

“The Watershed Report Card provides a look at the state of our watershed so residents are aware of their local conditions and also so that informed decisions can be made to ensure the sustainability of our water and land resources,” said Chief Administrative Officer Hassaan Basit. “There are a number of initiatives already being done in partnership with our local municipal partners and community to help maintain or improve the health of our environment. Conservation Halton participated in more than 130 environmental partnership initiatives in 2017, including a major restoration undertaking at Courtcliffe Park in Hamilton as well as other projects, such as Bayview Park in Burlington, Drumquin Park in Milton and Glenorchy in Oakville, to name a few.”

“Challenges such as urbanization and climate change significantly impact the health and resilience of the Conservation Halton watershed. Given the urban nature of parts of our watershed, there are a number of steps we can take to help offset the impacts of development and pollution in our streams, such as low impact development and seeking alternatives to road salt,” added Associate Director Science and Partnerships Kim Barrett. “Some fantastic work is being done in our watershed. Conservation Halton completed 37 floodplain, wetland and watercourse restoration activities in 2017 in collaboration with community partners.”

About Conservation Halton’s Watershed
Conservation Halton’s Watershed is made up of the smaller watersheds of all the streams which enter Lake Ontario, from Grindstone Creek in the west to Joshua’s Creek in the east. Conservation Halton’s watershed management efforts cover the entire area, and are focused within three main watersheds (Grindstone Creek, Bronte Creek, Sixteen Mile Creek), and numerous smaller urban creeks. The watershed includes most of Halton Region and portions of the City of Hamilton, Puslinch Township and the City of Mississauga.

About Watershed Report Cards
Watershed Report Cards are a reporting process which gets scientific information to local decision-makers in watersheds across Ontario. The data generated by monitoring helps us plan for environmental protection and enhancement, both through policies and through better stewardship and community involvement.

The release of Conservation Halton’s Watershed Report Card is part of a wider launch across much of the province. In conjunction with Canada Water Week (March 19 to 23), Ontario’s Conservation Authorities have started to release a new series of Watershed Report Cards that provide a CHECK UP on the current state of many of Ontario’s watersheds in terms of lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater and forest conditions. To take a look at the provincial picture:

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. We need a healthy environment because it provides safe drinking water, clean air, sustainable water supplies, and a foundation for Ontario’s economy.