The North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority relies on a network of monitoring sites to track hydrological, meteorological, snowpack, water quality, aquatic biology and groundwater conditions within its jurisdiction.
Data is generated to satisfy both short- and long-term interests for watershed management, flood forecasting and program planning. Monitoring is undertaken using electronic gauges which collect data frequently and support real-time monitoring needs. Data is also collected weekly or biweekly through field sampling usually undertaken on a seasonal basis.
NBMCA relies on timely access to data so it can issue advisories and warnings when water levels, streamflows and weather conditions raise concerns for the safety of people and property. New monitoring and research are now mandated under the Drinking Water Source Protection Plan in the Callander Bay basin. Data is also archived to serve comprehensive watershed management interests and support of the goals of NBMCA's Integrated Watershed Management Strategy.
Watershed monitoring is needed to identify watershed health issues and stresses that are impacting the aquatic environment. This information can then be used to shape our other programs.
An adequate water supply is critical for all life. NBMCA monitors and reports on water quality and quantity throughout our watershed in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
One of our main goals is to reduce the threat of loss of life and property damage from flooding. We do this through flood warnings, flood forecasting and the operation and maintenance of flood control structures. Flood Forecasting Program. Changes in flow regimes and water quantity can impact human and aquatic health and economic activity.
NBMCA assesses water quantity through review and/or monitoring of surface water levels and flows, groundwater levels, snow depth and water equivalence, and precipitation. We do this in partnership with Environment Canada and Nipissing University.
Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network (PWQMN)
The PWQMN collects water quality information from rivers and streams at locations throughout Ontario. The water samples are analyzed for approximately 40 general chemistry parameters such as metals, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. NBMCA samples at eight PWQMN stations. Samples are collected eight times a year on a monthly basis during the ice-free period (generally April to November) with some additional sampling during the winter at select sites. (Map) Ontario Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network
Integrated Watershed Management Stream Water Quality Monitoring
In 2018, eleven new stream water quality sites were established to supplement the existing monitoring conducted through the PWQMN, expanding coverage through NBMCA’s subwatersheds. These watercourses are sampled for total phosphorus, temperature, pH, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity on a monthly basis, from April through November, each year.
Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network (PGMN)
The PGMN is a network of almost 400 wells located across Ontario that monitors groundwater levels and groundwater quality. The groundwater level readings are taken hourly and are stored in a data logger for either manual or remote automated download. The downloaded data is maintained by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation & Parks. This data is made available for use by partner conservation authorities. Groundwater quality samples are collected annually in the fall and sent to the Laboratory Services Branch of the Ministry of Environment where they are analyzed for general chemistry and metals. Groundwater quality samples are taken annually in the fall. Wells are visited twice a year to check batteries, determine static level, and download data. The NBMCA has developed and maintained a groundwater monitoring network that consists of 6 wells located across the watershed. Well site information is summarized below. (Map) (Results) Ontario Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network
Lake Monitoring Program
NBMCA monitors the water quality of local lakes as a Science Partner in the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) Lake Partner Program. Four priority lakes – Trout Lake, Lake Nosbonsing, Callander Bay, and Wasi Lake – are sampled regularly throughout the ice-free season every year; other lakes are monitored semi-annually, on a rotating basis. Lake water quality is characterized by measuring total phosphorus, temperature, pH, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, and algal and cyanobacterial pigments. Total phosphorus concentration is determined at the Dorset Environmental Science Center, an MECP research facility; other parameters are determined in the field using a Secchi disc and Hydrolab HL7 sonde. Monitoring of Trout Lake is conducted in partnership with the City of North Bay. Ontario Lake Partner Program.
Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network (OBBN)
Benthic macroinvertebrates are sensitive to environmental impacts such as pollution and habitat degradation, and are an important part of aquatic food webs (e.g., supporting fish production). In this way, benthic community structures are significant in determining the ecological health of aquatic ecosystems. Benthic sampling is conducted by NBMCA each spring at several locations within the Chippewa Creek subwatershed, and semi-annually on streams within other subwatersheds. Taxonomic identification is completed by microscopy to the Family level, and the data are used to quantify ecosystem health. (Map) Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network
Every five years, NBMCA issues a Watershed Report Card (WRC) for its 20 subwatersheds. Based on a set of indicators established by the technical and scientific staff of Ontario's 36 Conservation Authorities, the WRC reports on five resource categories: surface water quality, groundwater quality, lake water quality as well as forest conditions and wetland cover. For more information, visit the Watershed Report Card section of the website.