Back in 2013, Conservation Authorities took a risk – they stepped out on the ledge and provided Ontarians with the best information they had about conditions around surface water quality, groundwater quality, and forest conditions. NBMCA collected the best information we have, reported on the results, targeted actions for protection and improvement, and is working towards improving data collection and analysis.

The purpose of the Watershed Report Card is to report on the health of watersheds through the use of key environmental indicators. They are a management and evaluation tool, which:

  • benchmark conditions
  • measure environmental change
  • identify issues and target watershed programs
  • track progress of actions
  • inform decision-makers

Watershed report cards are a successful way to deliver a vast amount of technical information in a readily understandable and interesting way every five years.  NBMCA issued a watershed report card in 2013 and 2018.  

Report Card Categories

NBMCA's Watershed Report Card reports on five resource categories: Surface Water Quality, Groundwater Quality, Lake Water Quality as well as Forest Conditions and Wetland Cover based on a set of indicators for each category. 

These resource categories relate to two key Conservation Authority business functions: protecting and enhancing water quality and preserving and managing natural areas. While Conservation Authorities across the province consistently report on Stream Water Quality and Surface Water Quality, NBMCA chose to report on Lake Water Quality as well given the significance of lakes within our watershed.

Surface Water Quality — Surface water is the water that makes up our rivers, lakes and streams. Conservation Authorities assess the quality of these water bodies by measuring water chemistry (phosphorus, oxygen) and organisms that live in the sediment at the bottom of streams and rivers. 

Groundwater Quality — Groundwater is the water found beneath the earth's surface, in water-bearing layers known as aquifers. Groundwater is difficult if not impossible to clean once contaminated, so it is critical to protecting areas of groundwater recharge. Conservation Authorities monitor water chemistry (nutrients, metals, chloride & nitrates)

Forest Conditions - Forests provide habitat and shade; they help to clean our air and water and they protect the soil which promotes water infiltration and reduces both erosion and flooding. Forests also help to cool the land and air – nature's air conditioner! Conservation Authorities assess the area of their watersheds covered by forest, and the amount of forest "interior" (areas that are more than 100 meters from the forest edge which provides critical habitat for many species including songbirds.)

Data for the report card was obtained from NBMCA's water quality sampling program, Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks' Lake Partner Program database and Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network database as well as the Land Information Ontario database.

At NBMCA watershed monitoring and reporting is an important part of the Integrated Watershed Management (IWM) Process.  Learn more about IWM at the IWM Section of the website.

To view Watershed Report Cards issued by conservation authorities across the province, visit