Community Water Quality Monitoring

Prince Edward Island is often described using words like: picturesque, scenic, pastoral, and serene – and one might think based on these descriptors that PEI is more or less unaffected by things like pollution, waste, land degradation, ecological decay, species extinctions, poor air quality, and water shortages; unfortunately that is not the case.  Since the time of early settlers on PEI in the 1700s, the Island’s landscape has changed dramatically.  Acadian forests were cleared for agriculture resulting in increased use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals to spray crops, farmlands have gotten exponentially larger with the removal of buffers, hedgerows and the merger of croplands, cottages and other coastal developments have been turning up all around our shorelines and development of our fisheries and aquaculture industries have been growing.

While some of these changes have benefited society, many changes have had, and continue to have, significant implications to the environment and water quality throughout our watersheds.  Red river events, fish kills, fracking, nitrates, deepwater wells, and the Gulf oil & gas exploration interests are serious issues that make the news on a regular basis.

SEA’s Community Water Quality Monitoring Program is comprised of 3 main activities:

  • SWQM: Surface Water Quality Monitoring – Chemical Monitoring
  • CABIN: Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network – Biological monitoring
  • CAMP: Community Aquatic Monitoring Program – Estuary monitoring

Each of these activities is an important component to the overall picture of water quality in the SEA Region.  Most work is carried out over the spring, summer and fall seasons usually starting sometime in May and continuing into December –weather permitting.

In 2014-15, SEA expanded its Water Quality Monitoring Program by adding fourteen additional SWQM sites across the region for a total of 23.  Sites visits were conducted on a weekly and bi-weekly basis and parameters such as pH, DO (dissolved oxygen), Temperature, SPC (specific conductivity), Salinity, Nitrates, and TDS (total dissolved solids) were recorded.   SEA also established four additional CABIN sites for a total of seven – one in each of seven major rivers. The last component of SEA’s WQ Monitoring Program is CAMP, an estuary monitoring program lead by the Dept of Fisheries & Oceans but carried out by the watershed group.  Eighteen sites are monitored in the following three regions: Montague-Brudenell, Murray River and Pinette River.