Media Releases

Conservation Halton’s Watershed Report Card provides a look at the region’s environmental health

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For Immediate Release
Monday, March 18, 2013

BURLINGTON – Conservation Halton today released its 2013 Watershed Report Card with grades on the health of four key measurements, Forest Conditions (C), Groundwater Quality (A), Impervious Land Cover (D) and Surface Water Quality (C). 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. More information, including a copy of Conservation Halton’s Watershed Report Card can be found online at Here is some more detail on the four areas of measurement:

  • Forest Conditions – Forests provide many ecological functions such as wildlife habitat, air purification, erosion control, and recreational opportunities. The overall forest cover in our watershed is 26.4% or a grade of C. The majority of large forested areas are located above the Niagara Escarpment.
  • Groundwater quality – This varies across the watershed based on geology and land use. Nitrogen and chloride were used to characterize the quality of groundwater within the watershed, receiving an overall grade of A, indicating excellent conditions.
  • Impervious Land Cover – Impervious land cover includes hard surfaces that do not allow water to absorb into the soil, including roads, driveways, parking lots and rooftops. Runoff can carry pollutants as it runs along hard surfaces and can reach local creeks, lakes and aquifers. If 10% of a watershed’s land cover is impervious it can begin to result in the loss of aquatic species. By the time you reach 26 to 30% imperviousness, entire aquatic ecosystems can be permanently damaged. Overall imperviousness in the Halton watershed is 21.4% which is a grade of D.
  • Surface Water quality – This varies in Conservation Halton’s watershed with ranges from a grade of B to F, with an overall average of C. The best water quality is found in the headwater areas where human activities have the least negative impact.

Conservation Halton CAO Ken Phillips said, “The results in the Watershed Report Card are sobering, especially when you see the grades so clearly. However, we do know what to do in order to improve conditions, and we have seen improvements in many areas over the years as a result of our work and that of our municipal and provincial partners. We are currently collaborating with a number of great partners in the community to address issues and concerns. These report cards will help us target our efforts and then track progress based on scientific information.”

Challenges such as urbanization and Climate Change significantly impact the health and resiliency of the Halton watershed. We need to build resilience to adapt to changing global and local conditions. The report cards give 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. This is a reporting process that 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 bigger provincial picture

The release of Conservation Halton’s Watershed Report is part of a wider launch across much of the province. In conjunction with Canada Water Week (March 18 to 22), 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, visit Conservation Ontario’s Watershed Checkup webpage.

“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,” said Dick Hibma, Chair of Conservation Ontario.

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 an important Ontario economy.

Conservation Halton is the community based environmental agency that protects, restores and manages the natural resources in its watershed. The organization has staff that includes ecologists, land use planners, engineers, foresters and educators, along with a network of volunteers, who are guided by a Board of Directors comprised of municipally elected and appointed citizens. Conservation Halton is recognized for its stewardship of creeks, forests and Niagara Escarpment lands through science based programs and services.

Media Contacts:

Hassaan Basit
Director Communications Services
Telephone: 905-336-1158, Ext. 270

Norm Miller
Communications Advisor
Telephone: 905-336-1158, Ext. 233