There will soon be much more known about the quality of freshwater in the Corner Brook area.
In partnership with ACAP Humber Arm and a network of community organizations, a community based water monitoring initiative known as CURA (Community-University Research Alliance) H2O is being conducted.
Sheldon Peddle, executive director of ACAP Humber Arm, said the initiative is an evolution of the organization’s involvement with marine and coastal water monitoring. The freshwater streams and rivers are being monitored throughout the week with water monitoring field kits.
Peddle said the main objective is to make the equipment — which once trained to utilize would become property of the community partner after the initiative concludes in 2015 — available to other organizations for research.
Although not all sites have been selected yet, the group had been testing areas around Grenfell Campus, Bell’s Brook and in the York Harbour and Lark Harbour areas Tuesday.
“We will be looking at areas where there is fisheries activity and also some areas where there are some recreational use,” Peddle said. “We will also factor in whether there is any residential or industrial impact to the neighbouring tributary.”
There are no obvious water quality concerns in the area, Peddle said, but this establishes baseline data for future reference. Flooding and changes to brooks and streams as a result of increased runoff have been commonplace in this area.
“We can look at the trends over time — changes in pH, temperature and things that could effect some of the fish species,” he said. “It would be a good indicator as to whether we are seeing changes in the stream over time, and then work with the appropriate authorities to see what is causing it and what can be done to reverse or remediate it.”
Meanwhile, Oliver Woods, the CURA H2O/Wet Pro liaison with Saint Mary’s University, said the five year-project is meant to standardize the way in which community groups are collecting water quality data. Temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH and conductivity are some of the things tested and used to determined the suitability of the stream or river for aquatic organisms.
In year four of this project, the alliance has commonly worked with groups such as salmon organizations throughout the Maritimes.
“In some cases, they do move on with some restoration work to restore fish habitat and things like that,” Woods said. “There is definitely benefits to the ecosystem if there are issues identified that need to be improved or changed.”