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Be Part of the Solution If we all work together, we can make a difference in the health of our watershed. Imagine the cumulative effect of over 71,000 people in our region making wise environmental choices! Improving the health of the watershed means balancing environmental concerns with everyday life. Some examples of good environmental stewardship activities that you can do include: Plant trees – planting trees increases wildlife habitat and improves water quality. Trees can reduce heating and cooling costs, increase property values, filter pollutants, reduce erosion and stabilize shorelines. Ask about our tree seedling program, which offers high quality native tree seedling stock to the public at a reasonable price.

Lower Trent Conservation

Watershed Report Card 2007 A Report on the Ecosystem Health of the Region

Do you ever wonder if the Trent River is healthy? How about the Bay of Quinte? Lower Trent Conservation is dedicated to the protection of the region’s natural features and functions. In order for us to protect it, we need to constantly monitor it for change. This Watershed Report Card is a summary of what our monitoring programs are telling us about the health of the watershed region. It will be used as a framework for future Report Cards to identify trends and to help focus conservation efforts. This Report Card will also identify data that needs to be collected for a more complete picture. It is the first in a series that will be produced every five years.

Maintain septic systems – a failed septic system can be a significant health threat by contaminating rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater. Perform regular maintenance checks on your septic system to ensure that it is functioning properly. Eliminate use of lawn & garden fertilizers/pesticides – rain and lawn watering carry chemicals directly into our storm drains, streams and rivers. Plant native trees, shrubs and wildflowers to allow for lower maintenance lawns and gardens.

What is a Watershed?

Conserve water – available drinking water is a very precious resource and should not be taken for granted. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Turn off your tap while brushing your teeth or washing dishes. Water your plants and lawn at appropriate times. Be aware of your daily household consumption of water.

Grading the Watershed The watershed report card grades were calculated based on provincial standards established by Conservation Ontario. Conservation Ontario is the umbrella organization that represents all of Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities. Each grade is described as follows: A Very healthy watershed conditions. Protection may be required to maintain conditions and some enhancement may be necessary. B Healthy watershed conditions. Some enhancement may be required. C Watershed conditions require enhancement. D Poor watershed conditions that need to be improved. F Degraded ecosystem conditions that need considerable improvement.

Watershed Index 1 Squires Creek

2 Rawdon Creek 3 Trout Creek 4 Trent River Corridor Tributaries 5 Rice Lake Tributaries 6 Percy/Burnley Creek 7 Salt Creek 8 Cold Creek 9 Barnum House/Shelter Valley Creeks 10 Lake Iroquois Plain Tributaries 11 Mayhew Creek 12 Bay of Quinte Tributaries



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Talk to us! Staff at Lower Trent Conservation are here to help.  We can offer suggestions about how to make your property more environmentally friendly, and guide you to available funding opportunities. If you are planning projects on your property, we will let you know whether special permits are required. This can save you from making costly mistakes.

The Lower Trent watershed area is composed of 12 subwatersheds. Some form part of the Trent River drainage basin; the rest include streams flowing directly into Lake Ontario or the Bay of Quinte.

Detailed summaries of individual subwatersheds within Lower Trent Conservation’s watershed region are available.

Lower Trent Conservation helps to manage the natural resources of this watershed region. As watersheds are not defined by political boundaries, communities need to work together to protect watershed resources.

Our Watershed Municipal Partners: Township of Alnwick / Haldimand Municipality of Brighton Municipality of Centre Hastings Township of Cramahe City of Quinte West Township of Stirling–Rawdon Municipality of Trent Hills

What Does This Report Card Measure? Surface Water is the water that flows through our rivers, lakes and streams. Surface water quality is determined by measuring water chemistry and benthic invertebrates (tiny bugs that live at the bottom of streams).

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A watershed is an area of land that drains into a river or stream. A drop of water that falls anywhere within the watershed region will eventually end up at the mouth of the Trent River, or will flow into the Bay of Quinte or Lake Ontario.

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For more information: Lower Trent Conservation 714 Murray Street, R.R. 1 Trenton, Ontario K8V 5P4 Tel.: 613-394-4829 Email: Website:

Groundwater is the water found below the earth’s surface. Groundwater quality is determined by measuring chloride, nitrates and nitrites.

Forests are critical to the health of our watershed region. The total forested area within the region and the amount of forest fragmentation impact how well they are able to clean our air and water, and support wildlife.

Surface Water Quality

Forest Conditions

Groundwater Quality

Surface water quality is determined by measuring levels of chemicals, nutrients and bacteria, and the types of aquatic species and vegetation found in and along streams. The following parameters were used to measure surface water quality:

The following parameters were used to measure groundwater quality: Nitrates and Nitrites are forms of nitrogen that can enter groundwater from land use activities. Sources of nitrates and nitrites include wastewater, septic systems and fertilizers.  High concentrations of nitrates and nitrites in groundwater can make it unsafe for human consumption. Water Sampling Container

Bacteria (E. coli) are found in human and animal waste. Their presence indicates water contamination and the potential for human health risks. Phosphorus is found in products such as soaps, detergents, fertilizers and pesticides. A high concentration of phosphorus contributes to excessive algae and low oxygen levels in streams and lakes. Benthic invertebrates are the small organisms that live at the bottom of streams. Benthic diversity and abundance reflect good, fair, or poor water quality.

Chloride is a form of salt that can enter groundwater from land use activities. Salts used for snow control on roads and water softeners are sources of chloride.  High concentrations of chloride are an indication of human impacts on groundwater.   

Provincial Groundwater Quality Monitoring Network Grade A Grade C Grade F Insufficient Data Hastings

Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network Sites Benthic Macroinvertebrate Sampling Site Grade B Grade C Insufficient Data

In order to characterize forest conditions, both the amount of forest cover and forest interior are determined. Forest cover is simply the total area of the watershed region covered by trees. Forest interior refers to forested areas that are 100 metres from the forest edge, roads or permanent openings. These areas provide sheltered, secluded environments away from the influence of forest edges and open spaces. Forest interior is important for some wildlife species.

Watershed Health–What it Means for You Stirling

Our lives are directly affected by the health of our watershed. Our day-to-day activities have a direct impact on many aspects of the natural environment.


Grade A Grade B Grade C




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Warkworth Roseneath


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Lake Ontario

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Warkworth Roseneath

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Brighton Colborne Grafton

Edible fish:


Brighton Hastings

People living within the watershed region get their drinking water from both groundwater and surface water sources. A healthy watershed means clean, safe water. It’s much easier and cheaper to protect water at the source than to increase treatment once it’s polluted.


Warkworth Roseneath

Safe drinking water:

Lake Ontario

Seven of ten monitoring wells in the region scored an A. The three remaining wells scored much lower grades due to high levels of chloride, nitrates and nitrites. With only a maximum of three years of data taken from the monitoring wells, the results cannot be used to predict trends in groundwater quality or quantity.

Protection and enhancement of wetlands and increasing permanently vegetated buffers along streams can help to improve water quality by reducing the amount of pollutants entering streams.

It is important to note that the grades are only a reflection of the water quality measured within each well and cannot be used to assess groundwater beyond the actual well. Lower Trent Conservation needs to expand monitoring activities in order to gain a better understanding of groundwater quality.

Lower Trent Conservation monitors surface water quality in cooperation with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment through the Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network.

Groundwater is monitored in partnership with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment through the Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network.

Surface water quality data for the watershed region is lacking. Only two subwatersheds have data for all three parameters and were able to be graded.  Monitoring activities need to be expanded to develop a better understanding of surface water quality. 

Colborne Grafton

Lake Ontario

Most fish in our watershed are safe to eat, although there are consumption advisories for some species. Detailed information is contained in the Province of Ontario’s Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish. A healthy watershed means healthy fish that are safe to eat.

Clean beaches: Many issues that affect water quality and watershed health, such as faulty septic systems and urban and agricultural run-off, have a direct impact on our local beaches. Public health units test beaches weekly, and post those that have excessive bacteria levels. Reducing sources of pollution will improve our watershed‘s health and reduce the number of annual beach closings.

The Work Continues... Approximately 34% of the watershed region is covered by forest and almost 7% is classified as forest interior. Although most of the watershed region scores an A or B for forest conditions, the calculated forest interior indicates that much of the existing forest cover is fragmented. Many of the forested areas consist of small woodlots that do not provide interior forest conditions. Loss of forest cover throughout all subwatersheds should be minimized. Reforestation efforts need to focus on creating interior forest by increasing the size of existing woodlots.  Forest condition is determined using data from the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Our ecosystems are dynamic and complex. The status of our surface water, groundwater and forest conditions outlined in this report card each represent different ecological components of our watershed. Each one will respond differently to changes in the environment at different times and in different ways. Lower Trent Conservation needs to continue to build on our knowledge and understanding of our watershed region and how it is changing by expanding our monitoring programs. Watershed monitoring will help us better understand problem areas, focus natural resource management actions to where they are needed most, and track progress over time.

Watershed Report Card  

Lower Trent Conservation has released its first comprehensive report card on the ecosystem health of the Lower Trent watershed region. The r...

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