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Sault Ste. Marie Region Conservation Authority (SSMRCA)
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Watershed Report Card

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
World Water Day, March 22, 2023, the SSMRCA is releasing the Sault Ste. Marie Region 2023 Watershed Report Card.
 
Watershed Report Cards reflect environmental changes underway in Ontario's watershed. They also provide information on environmental indicators that reflect Watershed conditions being impacted by climate change, urbanization, and population growth.  Conservation Authorities across Ontario have prepared similar reports using Conservation Ontario guidelines and standards.  
 

Working in Partnership for the benefit of Everyone

At the SSMRCA we work with local residents and community partners to maintain and improve watershed health through actions to protect and conserve Ontario's natural resources.
 
A healthy watershed with lakes, rivers, forests, wetlands, and wildlife has a significant effect on human health. Healthy watersheds provide safe drinking water sources, provide green spaces for residents to stay active and feel recharged in nature. They help cool air, absorb greenhouse gas emissions, and contribute to food security. A great way to find out about your watershed is by visiting one of Ontario's conservation areas.
 
The 2023 Watershed Report Card for the Sault Ste. Marie Region measures and reports on four categories: Surface Water Quality, Forest Conditions, Groundwater Quality, and Wetland Cover with a set of indicators for each category. Measuring these indicators helps all of us understand our watershed better, target where work is needed, and track progress over time.
 

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. Some Conservation Authorities also measure bacteria.

 

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.

 

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 protect areas of groundwater recharge. Conservation Authorities monitor water chemistry (nutrients, metals, chloride & nitrates).

 

Wetland Cover - Wetlands are essential for a healthy environment. They absorb and filter sediments, pollutants, and excess nutrients; recharge groundwater; maintain stream flows; control runoff; store flood waters; reduce erosion and stabilize shorelines. Wetlands are also an important habitat for many fish, birds, and other wildlife.

 

Conservation Authorities have been monitoring and assessing local conditions across Ontario for years and these report cards bring that information to the general public in a user-friendly, informative way to help identify issues, project future conditions, focus resource management actions where they are needed most, and to track progress over time. 
 

We Can All Be Part of the Solution

Keeping the public and government informed about the state of the watersheds builds a better understanding and support for important actions and programs that protect and ensure healthy ecosystems and a safe, sustainable supply of water in Ontario. Our programs aim to improve water quality, protect biodiversity and help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change, your support is needed to continue to make improvements. Volunteering or making a donation are just two of the many ways you can help make local changes that matter.
 

What Can You Do?

  • Conserve water by using a rain barrel, and water gardens and lawns less frequently.
  • Plant native plant species including flowers, shrubs, and trees.
  • Get active and recharge your batteries – visit a local conservation area at any time of the year and have a picnic, go hiking, go snowshoeing, and just catch the views!
  • Reduce the number of household chemicals you use and store - such as antifreeze, paint, lawn chemicals, detergents, and cleaners.
  • Dispose of hazardous products at the Household Hazardous Waste Depot. 
  • Allow trees and shrubs to grow along the edges of ponds, streams, rivers, and lakes.
  • Don't pour anything down storm drains, everything entering storm drains goes directly to local creeks, streams, and the St. Marys River.
  • Salt responsibly, use less salt during winter months to help reduce the salt entering our surface and groundwater sources.
  • Preserve and protect wetlands to hold flood waters and to filter surface and groundwater quality.
  • Homeowners, municipalities, and companies can use green infrastructure practices such as permeated pavement, urban forests, natural areas, green roofs, green walls, parks, community gardens, constructed wetlands, rain gardens, bioswales, and stormwater ponds to prevent runoff, reduce emissions, cool cities, and keep water on the landscape.
For information on Watershed Report Cards from across Ontario visit watershedcheckup.ca