It’s World Water Day and Ontario’s Conservation Authorities have begun releasing their 2018 Watershed Report Cards. Not surprisingly, we see that our watersheds – particularly in the southern part of the province – are stressed.
Conservation Authority Watershed Report Cards show an average grade of ‘C’ for surface water quality and ‘C’ for forest conditions. Groundwater appears to be in better shape, however it is much more difficult to assess on a watershed-wide basis.
If you look, you’ll see there aren’t a lot of ‘watershed’ report cards to find out there and for good reason – they’re tough to do and you open yourself to criticism because everyone wants to report differently.
Back in 2013, Conservation Authorities took a risk – they stepped out on the ledge and provided Ontarians with the best information they had about conditions around surface water quality, forest conditions and water quality.
Rather than doing nothing Conservation Authorities decided it’s more important to collect the best information we have, report on the results, target actions for protection and improvement, and work towards improving data collection and analysis.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an end date to this work. You can’t just put the tools back in the truck, dust your hands off and ride into the sunset knowing that things have improved and you’re done. Instead, it’s an ongoing challenge but it’s one that Conservation Authorities are made for – they are persistent, they value collaborations and they are committed to continuing to improve the science. And, they have a lot of supporters within all levels of government, other agencies and landowners who are willing to work with them.
So, with this next set of Watershed Report Cards, we’d like to celebrate and thank all our partners and residents for not giving up – for continuing to support and contribute to our work. Our lakes, rivers, streams, forests, wetlands, bees, birds and wildlife need you!
Jane Lewington has been working with Conservation Ontario as the Marketing & Communications Specialist since 2001. Conservation Ontario is the umbrella organization that represents Ontario’s 36 Conservation Authorities. Conservation Ontario and the Conservation Authorities developed the initial Guide to Developing Conservation Authority Watershed Report Cards in 2012. The first set of report cards were released in March 2013.