Ontario's 36 Conservation Authorities monitor the health of natural resources in their watersheds because it helps to provide a better understanding of local environmental issues, focus actions where they are needed the most and track progress over time.
In 2012, Conservation Authorities completed development of the Conservation Authority Watershed Report Card Guidelines to assist Conservation Authorities in developing a set of standardized watershed report cards which starting in 2013, are released every five years.
Ontario’s lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater, forests, wetlands and other natural ecosystems contribute to our own health and well-being. They provide safe drinking water sources, filter pollutants, improve air quality and prevent flooding and erosion.
The main challenges to healthy watersheds continue to be the impacts of urbanization and climate change.
Through their watershed report cards, Conservation Authorities monitor three resource categories: surface water quality, forest conditions and groundwater quality. The next set of report cards will be released in 2023.
What are we finding in Ontario’s watersheds?
The 2018 Conservation Authority watershed report cards reveal that Ontario’s watersheds are at about a C to C+ level for both water quality and forest conditions. Groundwater appears to be in better shape, however it is much more difficult to assess on a watershed-wide basis. This is very similar to what Conservation Authorities found five years ago when they released their 2013 report cards.
What are Conservation Authorities doing about it?
Conservation Authority watershed management programs can be used to help improve conditions, or at least prevent them from getting any worse.
Conservation Authorities can use the report cards to target actions to specifically address issues. However, this requires a collaborative effort among many different partners – all levels of government, other agencies, landowners and residents.
Through their monitoring programs, Conservation Authorities will continue to track and report on conditions once every five years.