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Watershed Report Card

Ontario’s Conservation Authorities issue reports on watershed conditions every five years, in the form of Watershed Report Cards. Presenting a snapshot of watershed conditions using a consistent set of indicators and a standardized grading system helps the Conservation Authority, watershed residents, businesses, municipalities and other local decision-makers understand and respond to the needs and of the region.

More information about Watershed Report Cards, along with results for other regions, can be found on Conservation Ontario’s Watershed Checkup website.

2023 Watershed Report Card

Read the 2023 Long Point Region Watershed Report Card.

Summary of Results

The 2023 Long Point Region Watershed Report Card leverages data from 2017-2021, with the exception of groundwater which uses up to 20 years of available data.

In the Long Point Region watershed:

    • Surface water quality grades range from C to D.
    • Forest condition grades range from B to D.
    • Groundwater quality ranges from A to F. All reported wells received A grades for nitrate/nitrite concentrations. All reported wells received A grades for Chloride concentrations except for one which received an F grade.
    • Wetland cover grades range from B to F.

Data Sources

Data used for the 2023 Watershed Report Card was available thanks to LPRCA staff, partnerships with MECP and data made publicly available by the MNRF.

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and Program Partners do not assume any liability for any discrepancies, inaccuracies or gaps that may be present within the data. The data is considered to be Join Intellectual Property between the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and the Program Partner.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Program Partners do not assume any liability for any inaccuracies or gaps that may be present within the data.

More about Watershed Report Cards

Scale

A watershed is an area of land that drains to a river, lake or stream. Similar to the branches of a tree, streams are connected, with each draining into a larger branch until the stream system finally reaches a connection with a lake or other large body of water. Boundaries of a watershed are based on elevation or natural contours of the land, rather than municipal boundaries. Subwatersheds are areas drained by smaller branches of larger systems. Watershed Report Cards present data at a subwatershed level. Long Point Region Conservation Authority has divided the Long Point Region watershed into six major subwatersheds:

    • Big Otter Creek
    • South Otter – Clear Creek
    • Big Creek
    • Dedrick-Young – Hay Creek
    • Lynn River – Black Creek
    • Nanticoke – Sandusk – Stoney Creek

Grading System

A standardized grading system for the Watershed Report Card was developed to ensure consistency across the province. The grading system ranges from A to F. This is particularly beneficial for municipalities that cross watershed boundaries. While the grading system is helpful, it needs to be acknowledged that each watershed has its own unique challenges, especially in instances like directly comparing highly urbanized watersheds with rural ones.

Grades
A Excellent
B Good
C Fair
D Poor
F Very Poor

 

Indicators

Watershed indicators are measures that provide specific information on the environmental condition of a watershed and provide a means to assess progress towards an objective or target. These categories relate to two key Conservation Authority business functions: protecting and enhancing water quality, and preserving and managing natural areas.

Indicators Data Collected
Surface Water Quality Total Phosphorus Benthic Macroinvertebrates
Forest Conditions % Forest Cover % Forest Interior % Riparian Zone Forested
Groundwater Quality Nitrate + Nitrite Chloride
Wetland Cover % Wetland Cover
Measuring Surface Water Quality

Surface water includes any water collecting on the ground or in a stream, river, lake or wetland. Clean surface water is an important component of a healthy watershed. It helps support diverse aquatic habitat, adds to the aesthetic appreciation of the natural environment and enhances recreational potential which improves the well-being of those who use it. This resource is in high demand as a large portion of domestic, agricultural and industrial water requirements come from surface water.

Two indicators have been used to assess surface water quality at the subwatershed scale: Total Phosphorus and Benthic Macroinvertebrates. These indicators reflect key issues related to surface water quality across the province: nutrients, waste and aquatic health. A grade point average is calculated for each indicator and weighted equally to determine the overall surface water quality grade.

Phosphorus is essential to the growth and survival of organisms. High concentrations of this nutrient can lead to fluctuations in oxygen levels, excessive algae blooms, and impaired aesthetics. Levels are increased by the addition of products such as detergents, sewage, and fertilizers, and are further elevated through soil erosion. Phosphorus data is collected by staff through stream water samples as part of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network program. The Watershed Report Card grading system is guided by The Provincial Water Quality Objective’s recommended concentrations for phosphorus. Grades are calculated using the 75th percentile to reflect the tendency of collected data to be dry weather biased.

Benthic macroinvertebrates are organisms without backbones, which are visible to the eye without the aid of a microscope. They live on, under, and around rocks and sediment on the bottoms of lakes, rivers, and streams. Benthics are an ideal biomonitoring indicator because they are abundant, easy to sample and store, well known, and sensitive to environmental issues. Long Point Region Conservation Authority staff collects benthics following the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change’s Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network protocol. The Watershed Report Card grading is calculated using the modified Hilsenhoff Family Biotic Index. The index is used to produce a grade using the type and number of bugs and its tolerance value to pollutants.

Surface Water Quality Grading Guidelines

Overall Grade
Total Phosphorus (mg/L) Benthic Invertebrates* Point Score Grade Final Points Final Grade
<0.020 0.00 – 4.25 5 A >4.4 A
0.020 – 0.030 4.26 – 5.00 4 B 3.5 – 4.4 B
0.031 – 0.060 5.01 – 5.75 3 C 2.5 – 3.4 C
0.061 – 0.180 5.76 – 6.50 2 D 1.5 – 2.4 D
>0.180 6.51 -10.00 1 F <1.5 F

*Modified Family Biotic Index – based on New York State tolerance values

Measuring Forest Conditions

Trees and buffers provide many great benefits including improved air quality, providing climate moderation, intercepting water (which decreases soil erosion, provides groundwater recharge and reduces storm runoff to help prevent flooding), supply great habitat for wildlife, and offer recreational and economic opportunities. Forests and buffers face ongoing pressures such as degradation and fragmentation due to poor management, and habitat loss due to development and expanding agricultural activities.

The Long Point Region Conservation Authority assists private landowners and groups in the tree planting initiatives to expand forest cover and buffers and also provide technical advice to ensure their survival. These projects are completed with partners through cost-sharing programs. Staff also monitors and reports on the survival rate of planting sites to learn what works and how to create sustainable restoration sites. The Conservation Authority also owns its own large forest tracts and is committed to sustainable management practices by developing and following management plans.

Report card grading for forest conditions within the watershed reflects the percent of forest cover, forest interior and forested riparian buffers that occur within each subwatershed area. Grades are calculated using Geographic Information Systems with the most recent available data. The 2023 Long Point Region Watershed Report Card utilized Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry data, Southern Ontario Land Information System habitat loss mapping, and internal resources to calculate the final grades. Grading is guided by Environment Canada’s habitat recommendations.

Forest cover is the percentage of the watershed that is forested.

Forest interior is the portion of a woodlot that remains when a 100 m buffer is removed from the perimeter of a woodlot. Forest interior refers to the protected core area found inside a woodlot that some species require to nest and breed successfully. The outer 100m perimeter of a woodlot is considered ‘edge’ habitat and is more prone to predation, environmental damage, and invasive species.

Riparian cover is the percentage of trees, shrubs and grasses that run along a watercourse. Grading is based on the percent of land adjacent to an open watercourse with a minimum swath of land that is forested 30m wide on either side.

Forest Conditions Grading Guidelines

Overall Grade
% Forest Cover % Forest Interior % Riparian Zone Forested Points Grade Final Points Final Grade
>35.0 >11.5 >57.5 5 A >4.4 A
25.1 – 35.0 8.6 – 11.5 42.6 – 57.5 4 B 3.5 – 4.4 B
15.1 – 25.0 5.6 – 8.5 27.6 – 42.5 3 C 2.5 – 3.4 C
5.0 -15.0 2.5 – 5.5 12.5 – 27.5 2 D 1.5 – 2.4 D
<5.0 <2.5 <12.5 1 F <1.5 F

 

Past Watershed Report Cards