Here at The Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance, we work hard to protect and restore the health of the watersheds flowing into Shepody Bay, in Southeastern New Brunswick. As a project assistant, my main task is to help the project leaders in any way I can. 

Water quality monitoring is done every month and requires a lot of assistance. I traveled with the project leader to our numerous sites and collected samples that we would later test in the lab. To ensure that our results are accurate, I made sure to calibrate the YSI (a portable water-quality multiparameter instrument) before every sampling event. The YSI parameters measured include water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, turbidity, salinity, and total dissolved solids. Subsequent labwork will analyze the total coliform, E. coli, phosphates, and nitrates. Our water quality work helps the community understand if our water is safe or not and assesses the health of our aquatic ecosystems. 

 Kelsey Wilson helping with lab work

For the green infrastructure and Living Cities projects, summer interns are involved in a lot of site assessments and discussions around rain gardens. Rain gardens are an esthetically pleasing way of protecting our water bodies from the impacts of stormwater runoff and flooding. Students help with finding appropriate sites, digging, planting, and organizing. 

Fortunately for our native species, interns might also assist with invasive species removal such as phragmites around the watershed. That kind of work helps native species and bolsters biodiversity. Introduced species in our ecosystems become predators and compete with native species for space, nutrients, water, and light. Moreover, some are parasitic and can carry diseases.

As for our Broken Brooks project, interns might go outside and help with restoring aquatic connectivity by identifying and removing barriers to fish passages. This operation has a big impact on the aquatic organisms including fish that use those paths to migrate. It also improves degraded ecosystems in our watershed. With our new Native Seed Project, students will play a role in planting, digging, and expanding our native plants database.

Some of the most important work we do is public outreach education. Our number one goal is to build climate resilience through education. We do it through presentations, workshops, and by participating in events and festivals to spread information about our work and the importance of our watershed.