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ABCA issues report card on World Water Day

The cover of the updated 2023 Ausable Bayfield Watershed Report Card.


Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority updates on local state of forests, wetlands, and water 

Every five years, Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) updates a report card on the state of local forests, wetlands and water. The conservation authority has announced it will release the latest Watershed Report Card (WRC) in time for World Water Day, March 22, 2023.

ABCA staff introduced the 2023 Watershed Report Card at the Partner Appreciation Evening and Conservationist of the Year Awards Night held at Ironwood Golf Club on March 16, 2023. The ABCA area has five main watersheds: Ausable River, Bayfield River, Parkhill Creek; Mud Creek; and Lakeshore Watersheds The 2023 report card provides grades for forest and wetland conditions and surface water  and groundwater quality.

Grades for surface water quality, in the report card, range from A to D. Most watersheds received a C grade indicating ‘fair’ surface water quality and D grades for ‘poor’ forest conditions. The WRC reports wetland cover as very low in the ABCA area. Groundwater quality is generally very good in the ABCA area, according to Mari Veliz, Healthy Watersheds Manager with ABCA, but some monitoring wells received a ‘less than A’ grade. Local conditions may make wells more vulnerable. Everyone is reminded to monitor their own well.  

The report card recommends actions people, community groups, and agencies can take to improve their local environment. 

There have been some improvements, for some indicators in some places, since local monitoring began in 2002, Mari said. 

It may not be practical to turn D grades into C grades or C grades into B grades, Mari said. In some cases, tree planting and wetland enhancement are needed simply to maintain forest and wetland cover to compensate for loss of forests and wetlands as demand for land grows. Still, people can protect and enhance their local area through positive actions that help to protect needed forests and wetlands and water quality.

“Our latest Watershed Report Card provides practical ideas and next steps people can consider as they work to protect and enhance their local environment,” Mari said. 

People ask what they can do to protect water and biodiversity. “Your own backyard creek is a great place to start,” she said. “We thank watershed residents who have already shown, through tree planting and other positive actions such as planting cover crops or installing wetlands, that they understand the value of nature.” 

To learn more visit the Watershed Report Card web page.

Many of Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities plan to release Watershed Report Cards on World Water Day. Conservation Ontario created standards for WRC reporting across Ontario. Conservation Ontario represents Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities. Conservation authorities are mandated to ensure the conservation, restoration and responsible management of Ontario’s water, land and natural habitats. They do this through stewardship and education programs and policies that balance environmental and human needs.

World Water Day is held on March 22, 2023. The United Nations holds this observance day each year to highlight the importance of fresh water

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