Update on Ecological Monitoring

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Check Your Watershed Day




The Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol

Check Your Watershed Day (CYWD) is a one-day monitoring event during “summer low flow.” Historically, “summer low flow” takes place during the last two to three weeks of July. Because water levels are naturally low at this time, the water flowing in streams (i.e., baseflow) can be directly attributed to groundwater discharge. This new community-led monitoring initiative generates low flow data that over time can contribute to watershed plans, water budgets and water conservation plans required by the ORMCP.

CYWD was piloted on Saturday, July 22, 2006 in the Wilmot Creek watershed. Twenty-two volunteers evaluated the water condition of small streams (<3m) at 78 stream crossings using easy techniques from the Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol. In addition to the MTM project partners, other partners for this event included the Community Stream Steward Program, Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority, Durham Land Stewardship Council, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
Overall, sampling revealed a high degree of variability in the flow conditions of Wilmot Creek. Thirty-three sites were dry and 45 sites had flowing water.

Three subwatersheds were identified as major contributors of stream discharge, two of which are on the Oak Ridges Moraine. In contrast, many sites in the mid-eastern zones of Wilmot Creek were dry, including Stalker Creek and the eastern tributaries of Orono Creek. These findings are consistent with those of an earlier study by the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), providing additional support that this approach can reliably identify major sources and sinks of groundwater in a watershed.


Photo: Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority

The next step is to identify the causes of the variability in flow conditions to determine if they are natural or not. Also, because the CYWD data is comparable to the GSC data, it can be used to obtain baseline data on water flow within watersheds. This will be useful information to more fully understand the moraine’s hydrogeology – a necessary step to protect the hydrological integrity of the Oak Ridges Moraine.

On Saturday, July 21, 2007, CYWD was expanded to the Duffins Creek, Oshawa Creek, and Ganaraska River watersheds. In total, 184 people monitored these watersheds, covering 529 sites. Results from 2007 will be presented in the 2008 Status Report.


The Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol (OSAP) is a module-based series of standardized methods for evaluating physical and biological properties of wadeable streams.4 Modules are available for various types of indicators that vary according to the effort and equipment required. In this way, users can select an appropriate module to match their study needs. A growing list of stakeholders, including conservation authorities, provincial and federal agencies, universities and colleges, consultants and citizen scientists trained by non-government organizations (NGOs) are using this method. The Check Your Watershed Day (CYWD) protocol is based on a number of existing techniques found in OSAP and includes advice on both the study design and interpretation of the results. It was improved considerably following the pilot project in 2006. The OSAP database has been updated to enable the CYWD data to be managed from within this platform. In brief, the protocol describes how to document site locations, measure stream channel dimensions (when wet and dry), quantify the amount of water flowing at each site (discharge) if applicable, and measure the height of any perched culverts (important measure of barriers in a watershed). This protocol was developed to provide a means for conducting a point-in-time inventory of flow conditions within a watershed for the purpose of developing a water budget and, as such, is ideally suited for a citizen scientist survey.

4 Stanfield, L. 2005. Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol, Version 7. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

About the Monitoring the Moraine Project

Monitoring the Moraine (MTM) is a collaborative project between Citizens’ Environment Watch (CEW), STORM Coalition (Save the Oak Ridges Moraine), and Centre for Community Mapping (COMAP). It is designed to engage and sustain community volunteers in science, stewardship, monitoring and decision-making on the Oak Ridges Moraine. Through ecological and policy monitoring, MTM participants will help determine the effectiveness of the ORMCP and measure changes to the moraine landscape as a result.
The MTM project benefits communities across the moraine in numerous ways. It provides the necessary education, training and support to carry out monitoring projects and helps to ensure that the data generated by participating volunteers is valuable and scientifically defensible. This enables community members to raise and act upon environmental concerns in a timely fashion. Community empowerment will lead to wider community involvement and ensure that those who live, work and play on the moraine will be informed, engaged and well positioned to protect this unique landscape for years to come.
For more information, visit www.monitoringthemoraine.ca


Project Partners
Technical Support

Citizens’ Environment Watch empowers people in Ontario to pay attention to their local environment. CEW provides education, equipment and support to monitor local ecosystem health, and opportunities to participate in informed community decision-making and active stewardship. CEW has experience working with volunteers who are keen to undertake community based environmental monitoring as part of their efforts to protect and restore the environmental integrity of the Oak Ridges Moraine.

For more information, visit www.citizensenvironmentwatch.org


Save The Oak Ridges Moraine Coalition (STORM) is focused on protecting the ecological integrity of the Oak Ridges Moraine. Since 1989, STORM has been working at the local and regional levels to ensure that municipalities make good planning decisions that respect the environmental significance of the moraine and that take into account its ecological and hydrological functions. STORM’s years of experience in policy and planning advocacy on the Oak Ridges Moraine and its well-developed network of local and regional contacts were critical to the campaign that saved (legislatively) the Oak Ridges Moraine.

For more information, visit www.stormcoalition.org


The Centre for Community Mapping is an assembly of designers and researchers, whose goal is to provide accessible and affordable informatics tools and support to community-based organizations. COMAP’s main focus is to enable communities to communicate information through a sustainable, shared infrastructure, a common map platform for visual exploration and contribution of community information. The common map will have natural and cultural heritage applications, as well as land use management policy monitoring applications, serving communities that care for the Oak Ridges Moraine.

For more information, visit

MTM Project Funders
MTM is made possible by generous funding from:
support logos
For more information, or find out how to get involved, email info@monitoringthemoraine.ca, call 647-258-3280 or visit www.monitoringthemoraine.ca
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