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Our watershed monitoring network involves collecting different types of information to assess environmental health. We maintain a base level of monitoring, and enhance the network when additional information is needed, such as for the development of specific lake and subwatershed management plans.

With established benchmarks, we can detect emerging issues, including threats to surface and ground water resources, while measuring the effectiveness of best management practices on the landscape and current planning and development practices.

The information gathered is used internally within our different programs and services, and provided to government and partner agencies, and educational and community groups. Visit our subwatershed pages to see grades and other information by clicking the subwatersheds on the map below or visiting the watershed page.

We regularly partner with various organizations to collect the environmental information. Some of these organizations include the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF), local volunteer groups, Fleming College, Trent University, local high schools, and agencies such as the Conservation Authorities Moraine Coalition - a grouping of nine conservation authorities.

Urban Streams Benthic Macroinvertebrate Monitoring: What is it and why does it matter?


Urban Streams Benthic Macroinvertebrate Monitoring

Active monitoring sites

Water qualityWater Quality|GroundwaterGroundwater|Aquatics - Stream TemperatureAquatics - Stream Temperature|Aquatics - FishAquatics - Fish|
Aquatics - BenthicsAquatics - Benthics|Water QuantityWater Quantity|PrecipitationPrecipitation

  • Water Quality
  • Groundwater
  • Aquatics
  • Water Quantity
  • Precipitation

Water Quality

Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network

We carry out monthly water quality sampling as a member of the Provincial Water Quality Monitoring Network (PWQMN). This program is administered by the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).

There are currently 30 conservation authorities sampling approximately 390 sites across Ontario. We collect water samples and readings of water quality at 11 designated monitoring locations throughout our watershed using portable, hand-held equipment. MECP then analyses, interprets, and manages the data.

The standard set of water quality indicators monitored at each station includes chloride, nutrients, suspended solids, trace metals, and other general chemistry parameters. The sampling takes place 8 months a year from April until November.

Lake and Environmental Management Planning

As part of the research and monitoring for developing lake and environmental management plans, as well as monitoring the progress of plan implementation, water quality is sampled at various locations on lakes and tributaries. This enhanced monitoring network, beyond the PWQMN, helps us refine our understanding of water quality threats, potential stressors, and hotspots, and monitor the outcomes of best management practices and other actions. Monitoring through Kawartha Water Watch also contributes to this programming.

Kawartha Water Watch

Kawartha Water Watch (KWW) is a volunteer-based water quality program that is partially funded by community groups. At all sites, volunteers test the water for pH, alkalinity, and turbidity. They collect three specific samples for total phosphorus, nitrates, and nitrites that are then shipped to an accredited laboratory for analysis. They also perform a secchi disk test to monitor water clarity, and benthic macro-invertebrate sampling at some locations. Click here for more about this program.


As part of the Provincial Groundwater Monitoring Network (PGMN), we monitor 14 groundwater wells in our watershed area. These wells record water levels on a daily basis, providing valuable information on our groundwater resources. Water chemistry is also sampled, supplying additional information on the quality of water. The information collected serves the critical need for baseline groundwater data in the region. This data is used in a variety of ways including:

  • Carrying out drought assessment and contingency planning
  • Define emerging issues, trends towards water shortages and contamination
  • Meet demands of the public and business concerns for data on groundwater supply and quality
  • Provide scientific data to guide water taking and land use policy
  • Support integrated development planning.


Coldwater Stream Monitoring

Fishes and other aquatic organisms, such as benthic macroinvertebrates, have preferred water temperatures. Any changes in coldwater habitat can have a big impact on sensitive coldwater life, which depends on the clean, cold water from groundwater springs, along with high levels of dissolved oxygen and other conditions. By measuring water temperature, we can get a good idea of the types of resident fishes and aquatic life that might be present, as well as determine how sensitive certain watercourses may be to land use impacts.

The primary objective of this monitoring is to identify the thermal regime of all known coldwater streams within our watershed. We do this by collecting water temperature data at multiple locations within these streams, and evaluating whether or not typical summer water temperatures can support coldwater fishes.

South-Central Ontario Biocriteria Project

As part of this 5-year project, we are monitoring stream-dwelling bugs (benthic macroinvertebrates) throughout the Kawartha Lakes region. The objective is to characterize the "normal" biological community structure in southern Ontario streams.

Sampling involves "kicking-and-sweeping" the stream bottom to dislodge the bottom-dwelling organisms into a net. The bugs are identified and counted to obtain a representation of the biological community within the stream. This information is then pooled with the other sites to provide us with a good idea of the types of bugs we can expect to find within our streams. From this, we can determine how healthy or unhealthy our streams are.

This project is a multi-partner initiative, involving the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and several Conservation Authorities.

Lindsay Urban Streams Monitoring Project

In partnership with Fleming College, Environmental Technician students are sampling stream bugs, along with water chemistry and flow conditions, from Jennings Creek, Sucker Creek, and Albert St. Ditch. This provides an opportunity for students to learn industry-standard techniques for sampling, while contributing valuable data. This project has taken place every summer since 2010.

Characterization Reports for Lake Management Planning

As part of the science and research for lake management plans across the Kawarthas, we are sampling fishes at sites that were sampled in the 1970s by the Province. This will help us determine if there have been any major shifts or changes to fish communities over this time.

Water temperature monitoring is taking place to determine different types of streams, and stream bug sampling is helping us assess water quality.

Water Quantity

We monitor water levels (the height of the water surface in lakes and rivers) and flow (quantity of water) throughout the watershed. This involves maintaining five water level stations that are accessible in real-time, and seven locations where water level information is recorded by data loggers. Ontario Waterways, operated by Parks Canada, monitors lake water levels at four locations within our watershed.

Flow data represents how much water flows through a channel during a specific time period (seconds, hours, years). In order to convert water level data into flow data, we undertake additional measurements and calculations.

Water level information is vital for our Flood Forecasting and Warning Program and Low Water Response Program. Flow data supports a variety of programs including lake and watershed management planning, water budgets development, and other programs and services.


Precipitation monitoring is an important part of our monitoring network. Currently, we monitor precipitation (rain and snow) at eight locations around the watershed. Three of the stations are automated and real time accessible. Two additional stations maintained by Environment Canada provide rain and snow data.

Snow cover is monitored at four locations as part of the provincial flood forecasting and warning monitoring network. The depth of snow and its water content is measured every two weeks and reported to the Ministry of the Natural Resources and Forestry. Daily snow measurements are carried out at our Administrative Centre in Ken Reid Conservation Area.

Precipitation data is used to assess potential flooding in our local rivers and lakes, as well as for other program and services including the Low Water Response Program, lake and watershed management planning, and water budget development. 

Programs and Services


 Flood Forecasting and Warning

24/7 monitoring and warning about the potential for flooding


Sturgeon Lake shoreline

 Lake and Environmental Management Planning

Science-based plans for protecting lakes and watersheds


Lindsay water tower

 Drinking Water Source Protection

Maintaining a clean supply of water to municipal drinking water systems


Monitoring water flow

 Watershed Monitoring

Scientific research and monitoring of water quality and quantity, and related natural features


2013 Watershed Report Card

 Watershed Report Cards

Assessments of watershed health based on various environmental indicators