skip to main content


There can be too little water during periods of drought or low water: Low Water Advisories

There can be too much water during periods of high water or flooding: Flood Messages

Over the years, Ausable Bayfield Conservation has implemented a number of water quality initiatives to help fulfill the community's mission and vision to create healthy watersheds.

Research and Data Gathering

The Board of Directors in 1982 initiated the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority's first water quality study that assessed potential water quality problems from manure handling and storage systems. This was a first step in developing a method for identifying livestock operations with a potential to degrade water quality.

During the 1980s and 90s other research included manure and nutrient management storage and handling practices, E. coli (Escherichia coli) survival in the streams and sediment, the connection between liquid manure application practices and tile drains, rapid E. coli detection in recreational waters, and pollution source identification using antibiotic resistance.

We are entering a fourth decade of conducting research, collecting data and participating in programs that will lead to monitoring, maintaining and improving water quality. Click on the Publications and Downloads tab at the top of the page or contact info(at) for a list of the various Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) reports and studies available for viewing in our library or to purchase a copy.

Provincial Surface Water Quality Monitoring Network

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority participates in the Provincial Surface Water Quality Monitoring Network by taking water samples at designated locations on a monthly basis. Surface water chemistry is monitored at eight (8) sites which were part of the original surface water quality monitoring program initiated in the 1960s by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE). Up until 1996, the MOE provided funding to ABCA to collect the samples but in 1996, this funding was cancelled and the program was discontinued. In 2000, ABCA and MOE staff agreed to the present sampling locations and the program was restarted. ABCA pays for the costs associated with sampling and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) pays for shipping and lab costs.

Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network

In 2000 the Ontario Ministry of Environment announced that it would partner with conservation authorities and their member municipalities to start a groundwater monitoring network. The network is currently being developed with an objective to establish an effective water management strategy in order to ensure sustainable water resources.

Benthic Monitoring

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority began a Benthic Monitoring Program in 2000. Benthic macroinvertebrates are living organisms that inhabit the bottom substrates of watercourses. These insects are good indicators of aquatic ecosystem health since they incorporate the effects of their chemical and physical environment.

Drain Classification Authorization Process

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority has been collecting data for the Southwestern Ontario Municipal Drain Classification Project. This information will lead to self-regulation for municipal drainage superintendents under the Class Authorization Process' for maintenance procedures on municipal drains.

The data collected by Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority will determine the type of aquatic ecosystem present in a particular drain. Water temperatures and habitat assessments are conducted which will identify the few coldwater fisheries located in the ABCA watersheds. Proper drain classifications will guide future maintenance activities and provide protection for valuable fish habitat.

Fish Habitat Management Plan

In April 2001, Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority completed a Fish Habitat Management Plan for the watersheds of Ausable, Bayfield, Parkhill and Gullies leading into Lake Huron. The current status of fish habitat and possible management strategies to improve aquatic resources were reviewed for 14 sub-basins within the ABCA jurisdiction. The 14 sub-basins were further prioritized for protection, maintenance and improvement based on current habitat potential, current land use stress, sensitivity of the resource, and fishing level.

Rural Stormwater Management Model Project

The Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) has entered a partnership with other conservation authorities and agencies to develop a Rural Stormwater Management Model.  Further information on this unique initiative is located on the Healthy Lake Huron - Clean Water, Clean Beaches website or the website.