Watershed Monitoring (2014/2015)
In 1993 Eastern Charlotte Waterways was established and as its first project the group assessed the freshwater quality of eastern Charlotte County. The organization’s members visited two sites in each of ten watersheds every month, monitoring those sites for temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen (DO) and turbidity. In April of 1997 the results of this study were published in a document entitled “The Watersheds of Eastern Charlotte: Environmental quality assessment.”
Now twenty years later, with the support of the provincial and federal governments, ECW has returned to those same monitoring sites and completed the first of a two year reassessment in an effort to identify any changes in water quality. By utilizing a baseline established twenty years previous, this project will enhance the ability of all stakeholders in eastern Charlotte County to identify and respond to environmental change in the area’s freshwater resources.
St. George Marsh (2014)
In 2014-2015 the Government of Canada launched the National Wetland Conservation Fund and in response, Eastern Charlotte Waterways began a project to improve the ecological health and recreational value of the St. George Marsh. Between Lepreau and the St. Croix the St. George Marsh is the most visible wetland. Bisected by the four-lane Trans-Canada Highway, the marsh is simultaneously a study in ecological connectivity, and a rallying point for a rural community that is prepared to redefine itself based on its natural value.
ECW has built a partnership with local group the Friends of the St. George Marsh, the Town of St. George, J.D. Irving, and Silk Stevens to install new interpretive signage, make walking trail improvements, and produce a short video highlighting the marsh. As well, invasive species have been removed, osprey platforms have been installed, and there have been numerous wildlife surveys conducted.
Magaguadavic Real-Time Monitoring (2014)
The Magaguadavic River is New Brunswick’s fifth largest river. It drains a watershed that measures 1,812 square kilometers. Since 2010 it has been subject to numerous flooding events. In the past it has been served by an Environment Canada monitoring station at Elmcroft. In 2014-2015 Eastern Charlotte Waterways added a second monitoring station on the river, above the Elmcroft station. This second station provides real time data over the internet for water temperature, water level and flow rate, and also features a rainfall gauge.
This second station allows stakeholders to increase their predictive ability, this includes landowners who must take protective measures during heavy rain events to ensure their health and homes are secure, as well as industrial partners including J.D. Irving, the proprietor of St. George Power, which operates a hydroelectric dam at the mouth of the Magaguadavic. Improving the predictive capacity for flooding events will help to prevent the type of damage and risk to human life that has characterized the recent flooding events, increasing the resilience to climate change of this community.
Magaguadavic Habitat Restoration (2013)
In 2010, Eastern Charlotte Waterways conducted a habitat assessment of the Magaguadavic River. The Magaguadavic River is the second largest contributor to the Bay of Fundy’s Passamaquoddy Estuary, meandering 129 km from York County to the Town of St. George. This project included water quality analysis, a survey of landowners, and a visual bank characterization. The project report revealed that, “there is considerable room for improvement with respect to educating landowners about the benefits derived from healthy riparian zones, and facilitating opportunities for them to incorporate these areas into their properties.” The project report also noted that the issue was particularly acute in the lower 30 kilometers of the river.
In response, ECW created the ‘Habitat Squad’. The Squad was made up of four local high school students who were responsible for the replanting of vulnerable riparian zones in the lower Magaguadavic. The Squad worked with ECW staff to identify and plant native tree species in areas where the riparian zone was damaged during the 2010 flooding events on the Magaguadavic. They also conducted stream enhancement initiatives, and cleaned up illegal dumps sites in the village of Blacks Harbour. The Habitat Squad was part of the ECW team for six weeks, planting over 2,000 trees. To learn more about the members of the Squad and read their weekly blog posts, visit: http://www.ecwinc.org/squad/.
Wetland Habitat Delineations (2013)
This project was designed to enhance wetland conservation efforts by assisting provincial wetland managers in developing a long term wetland strategy. It was undertaken in collaboration with the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Environment and Local Government, and the Miramichi River Environmental Assessment Committee (MREAC). The goal was to improve decision making processes for the protection of wetlands by ground-truthing habitat correlations and associations that were developed elsewhere into a New Brunswick context. This would evaluate the appropriateness of habitat distributions made by GIS modelling.
Using provincial datasets and GIS modelling, provided by the provincial departments of Environment and Local Government and Natural Resources, Eastern Charlotte Waterways and MREAC chose a series of wetlands to ground-truth in the Magaguadavic Watershed and the Cains sub-Watershed respectively. In the field, with the help of a provincially recognized wetland delineator, wetlands were characterized against predictions made by the habitat models. GIS polygons were used to confirm existing wetland boundaries as expressed in the available provincial wetland maps and the provincial wetland classification system. The project provided analysis of the viability of current datasets being able to predict habitat types on a watershed scale, and analyzed the transferability of habitat associations developed elsewhere to the New Brunswick context.
Lake Monitoring (2011-2013)
This summer ECW has once again undertaken a lake water quality monitoring program in Eastern Charlotte County. Thanks to the support of the Province of New Brunswick’s Environmental Trust Fund, water quality parameters and phytoplankton populations were monitored in Lake Chamcook, Lake Digdeguash, and Lake Utopia.
In late spring, and through the summer and autumn, ECW rotated a data logger between the three lakes, monitoring the dissolved oxygen content, pH, temperature, conductivity, and the presence of blue-green algae. Once in July, and again in August, staff travelled to the lakes to collect Secchi depth values, along with chlorophyll a, nitrogen, and phosphorous levels. A sample was analysed for phytoplankton diversity and abundance.
Results of these activities are being shared with all stakeholders, including the provincial Department of Environment and Local Government, the Town of St. Andrews, the Chamcook Watershed Landowners’ Association, and the Lake Utopia Preservation Society.
Lake Utopia Rainbow Smelt (2012/2013)
This past spring, ECW visited the spawning streams of the Lake Utopia Rainbow Smelt pair to conduct environmental monitoring. The Rainbow Smelt populations of Lake Utopia are unique, consisting of two behaviourally and genetically distinct types.
In order to protect this unique sympatric pair, ECW monitored five known spawning streams during the spawning season, evaluating water quality, water levels, and other obstructions to fish passage. It was discovered that the streams have high water quality, but that water levels are unpredictable.
The project was financially supported by the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund and the Habitat Stewardship Program.