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Innovations in Watershed Stewardship

Innovations in Water Management
In December 2001, the Ministry of the Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources and Conservation Ontario formed a partnership to develop a series of watershed-based pilot projects. Phase I, completed in 2003, included six pilot projects that focused on new and innovative approaches to watershed stewardship. Phase II, completed in 2005, included four pilot projects that focused on objectives to develop, implement and demonstrate place-based environmental management approaches for the anticipated watershed-based drinking water source protection that will be undertaken in Ontario. For more information...

An Evaluation of Water Resource Monitoring Efforts in Support of Agricultural Stewardship in Watersheds of the Great Lakes
As part of a commitment to restore, protect and conserve watersheds in the Great Lakes basin, Conservation Ontario partnered with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) to conduct a workshop and do research around water resource monitoring. There was clear support for improved communication and data sharing that meets a variety of needs in order to support the goal of Healthy Great Lake watersheds. The FULL REPORT and EXECUTIVE SUMMARY are available on our Great Lakes page.

Cost Benefit Analysis of Agricultural Source Water Protection Beneficial Management Practices
Farming has a long and successful history in Ontario . Agricultural Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) such as crop rotation, plant buffers, soil testing and crop covers are used by farmers today to protect the quality and supply of our water in lakes, rivers, streams and groundwater. These important actions act as barriers for surface and groundwater sources to prevent or decrease contamination of water by nutrients, pesticides and pathogens.

The George Morris Centre, a Canada-wide, nonprofit think tank based in Guelph, Ontario, teamed up with Conservation Ontario, the St. Clair Conservation Authority and a number of economic and science experts to conduct a cost benefit analysis of source water BMPs that can be used as alternatives to costly construction projects. The case study looks at the building of a pipeline from Lake Huron to the Town of Strathroy-Cardoc and whether or not BMPs could have achieved the same results with lower costs. Results from this study can be used to make assessments on future similar projects. FACT SHEET ENGLISH. FACT SHEET FRENCH. FULL REPORT. PRESENTATION

A similar study focused on the Region of Waterloo considering agricultural BMPs to address contributions of nitrogen to the groundwater within a wellhead protection area.

The purpose of this study was to examine the agronomic and environmental effectiveness, and the economic efficiency of beneficial management practices (BMPs) used to protect groundwater resources by reducing the amount of nitrogen potentially available to leach into groundwater, based on the 1980-2008 time step. To do so, a nitrogen mass balance model (MBM) was developed and the results from nitrogen (N) budgets developed from actual cropping practices within the capture zone of a production well in Waterloo Region were used to estimate long-term potentially leachable nitrogen (Npl). Five BMP scenarios were compared to determine: i) their potential effectiveness in reducing the amount of nitrogen available to leach from agricultural fields into groundwater and ii) their relative potential for ensuring groundwater obtained in the future at a production well in the Waterloo Region will meet the Ontario Drinking Water Standard (ODWS) for nitrogen (10 mg/L). Finally, the economic costs associated with the alternative BMPs were assessed.


Ecosystem Goods and Services
Our natural ecosystems encompass forests, wetlands, water sources, plants and animals, and provide multiple goods and services that contribute to a healthy economy, environment and people.

Every day, we rely on ecosystem goods and services - they connect us to our environment. Provides clean water, food and fuel and helps us to adapt to climate change impacts.

Economically, our environment helps to produce energy, supplies water to industry and individual households, contributes to tourism, timber, fisheries and recreation sectors, provides food and much, much more. 

Conservation Authorities deliver practical, cost effective programs that ensure healthy ecosystems which enable them to generate and maintain valuable goods and services, often preventing the need for costly technological solutions to environmental problems.

Conservation Authorities have a long history in working with landowners and others in the planning and delivery of watershed stewardship initiatives.

Examples of Goods

  • Fresh water
  • Food and Fuel
  • valuable green space

Examples of Services or Benefits

  • Flood and erosion prevention and control
  • Climate regulation
  • Water purification
  • Drought management
  • Crop pollination
  • Water recharge and cycling
  • Carbon emission storage
  • Recreational activities
  • Spiritual values

Currency of Ecology E-Bulletin (November 2011)
Conservation Ontario produced and circulated an E-Bulletin entitled the Currency of Ecology providing an introduction to Ecosystem Goods and Services, profiling how Conservation Authority business and services support the protection, restoration and provision of Ecosystems and associated goods and services.