Here at the PWA, we talk endlessly about water quality. But what does this mean? The health of a water body is determined by a complex list of biological, chemical, and physical properties. For the most part, healthy ecosystems have self-regulating and self-sustaining strategies that help maintain relatively stable conditions conducive to the species that rely on them to enhance biodiversity. All living things within an ecosystem contribute to its health, so changes in nutrient content, temperature, macroinvertebrate biodiversity, pollutants, and more can prove harmful as it they stress the system and alter important food web dynamics. An imbalance in the properties mentioned above can promote toxic algae blooms like blue-green algae, or increase bacteria such as E.coli, which is harmful to humans and animals.
While so much has changed over the course of PWA’s 25 years, one thing remains the same—our passion for water quality monitoring. Declining water quality has significant implications for native species and can also pose serious threats to human health. In the beginning, water quality was monitored on 7 sites by using 3 parameters (dissolved oxygen, E. coli, temperature),
since then, the PWA has expanded to cover 21 sites across the watershed with 11 parameters from May to October. These parameters include water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, turbidity, salinity, total dissolved solids, nitrates, phosphates, total coliform, and E. coli bacteria. For a full list of our water quality locations and results, you can find it on our website.
There are significant short and long-term benefits associated with water quality monitoring. In the short term, water quality data can help alert the community to any pressing issues that may threaten human or aquatic health. For example, our swim guide sites provide awareness of the safety of several local swimming spots based on the levels of E. coli we measure. In the long term, this data can be used to help paint a picture regarding aquatic health and to help us assess the ways in which water bodies are changing over time and space. In the wake of environmental change, it can be extremely important to not only understand present conditions, but past ones, to understand changes in environmental health, and revise management strategies.
To enter our giveaway, take a picture at Mapleton Park in Moncton (which is one of our monitoring sites), tag us, and use #25watershedmoments!
To learn more about water quality and testing, click on the links below:
Denchak, M. (2023). Water Pollution Definition—Types, Causes, Effects. NRDC.
Government of New Brunswick, C. (2011). Water Quality and Testing.
Government of Canada, S. C. (2022). Quality of life indicator: Water quality in