Contributing to local data
Since 1997, the PWA has been monitoring water quality throughout the Petitcodiac watershed to gauge the health of our local ecosystem. Over the years, we also started evaluating the presence of various flora and fauna, either at-risk or invasive. We have our own in-house lab where we process our samples and those of other monitoring groups.
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) and since then the PWA has expanded to monitor 21 sites 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. The dataset is available to view or download on the Atlantic Datastream website.
While we do take monthly water temperature datapoints at all of our monitoring sites, we also have hourly datapoints for temperature in 17 sites in urban streams around Greater Moncton. See that dataset here.
We also monitor 6 Swim Guide sites around the watershed for recreational use.
Flora and Fauna Monitoring
7Freshwater Mussels and Local Species-At-Risk
The PWA started assessing freshwater mussel populations throughout the Petitcodiac watershed in 2018. Habitat changes, degraded water quality, and altered food webs have been driving population declines for over 50 years. Using a semi-qualitative survey approach, the PWA has found 7 different mussel species across many of the 66 sites identified by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. These species include Eastern Pearlshell, Dwarf Wedgemussel, Triangle Floater, Alewife Floater, Eastern Elliptio, Eastern Floater, and Brook Floater. The Brook Floater is of special interest, as it has been identified as a species of concern. Freshwater mussels act as an indicator of environmental health, and play a vital role in the health of our river ecosystems as they help improve water quality by filtration. They are also an important component within their food webs and provide food for New Brunswick’s wildlife such as raccoons and muskrats. The PWA monitors freshwater mussel populations, assesses and reduces threats related to land use practices, and implements habitat improvement projects.
The brook floater (Alasmidonta varicosa), a species of concern under the Canadian Species-at-Risk Act (SARA)
The invasive subspecies of Common Reed (Phragmites australis subsp. australis) has become an increasingly familiar sight across New Brunswick, particularly in our area. While a native variant exists, non-native Phragmites establish rapidly and get a head start on native varieties by emerging earlier in the season. Supported by its complex underground rhizome structures, the aggressive invader grows to form tall, dense thickets that outcompete native species for water, light and nutrients. Starting in 2020, the PWA has worked to map and identify Phragmites infestations as the first step towards preventing further spread and minimizing the threat to our vital local ecosytems.
For more information, visit the New Brunswick Invasive Species Council
Common reed, Phragmites australis subsp. australis, tends to form very tall colonies in our saltmarshes and other wetlands.