70 Years of Science 

A person in a uniform kneeling on the edge of a stream, pouring water from one container into another. 

In celebration of our 70th anniversary, we’re highlighting stories that connect our past with our present through a monthly series. In this article we reflect on our history of watershed science and how it has guided us to protect and restore nature in the Credit River Watershed.

Conservation Matters

A person looking out into the distance with binoculars in the middle of a grassland as the sunrise illuminates the landscape.
CVC staff collecting data for a bird survey early in the morning.

Conservation Authorities were established in Ontario in the 1940s in response to severe flooding and erosion. Credit Valley Conservation’s first Watershed Plan in 1956 described the local ecological conditions and identified environmental stressors impacting the Credit River Watershed, including deforestation, erosion and water pollution. This report provided a framework for land management and conservation in the watershed to address these issues. 

For the past 70 years, we have built upon this foundational report and developed a series of studies, strategies and programs to protect, enhance and restore watershed health. This includes: 

  • Strategic plans 
  • Subwatershed studies 

All of these initiatives work together to address watershed health as environmental stressors and impacts have evolved.  Today urbanization, climate change and invasive species are the most urgent stressors impacting the Credit River Watershed. 

A person standing in knee-deep water surrounded by tall grass vegetation and trees.
Dedicated staff collecting data at Rattray Marsh CA and installing acoustic recording units to monitor wildlife.

We’re highlight two of the initiatives and describe how they help to improve watershed conditions.

Rooted in Science

Two people inspecting a net with a bug in it, while one person is holding water sampling containers.
Staff having fun collecting data on benthic macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects) that are indicators of water quality and stream health.

Twenty- five years ago, we started the Integrated Watershed Monitoring Program (IWMP). This program tracks environmental conditions in streams, groundwater, forests and wetlands over time. Long-term monitoring helps us understand how healthy our watershed is and whether conditions in our ecosystems are improving, deteriorating or stable.   

In combination with our other monitoring and inventory programs, these data enable us to make decisions rooted in science and work with our partners and communities to foster a resilient watershed. Specifically, the knowledge gained helps CVC manage the environment, mitigate the impact of stressors and make recommendations to partner agencies and stakeholders.

Using this data, we can also model scenarios to help predict future conditions and understand how our collective actions are improving the environment for generations to come.

Planning for the Future

Two people in CVC uniforms, surrounded by buckets with various specimens, inspect a small fish in a clear rectangular tank.
CVC staff identify fish species as part of an electrofishing survey to help understand fish community health.

Today, we are learning from the past and updating the Watershed Plan so it can guide our work into the future. Our forthcoming Watershed Plan will continue to build on our large wealth of watershed science and by identifying how stressors such urbanization, invasive species and climate change impact watershed health today and in the future. This will help us to identify what conservation actions we must take, in partnership with municipal partners and watershed residents, to reduce negative impacts to water resources, the natural heritage system and natural hazards.

By using the latest science, we can take steps to manage, maintain and improve the health of the watershed, so it’s resilient over the long-term. This will ensure that it continues to provide a variety of goods and services to communities, such as wood products or fish and critical services ranging from reducing the risks of flooding to cleaning the air we breathe to opportunities for recreational, cultural and spiritual enjoyment.

Tell us why #ConservationMatters to you. Tag us on Instagram, Facebook, X and LinkedIn.

By Kata Bavlric, Program Manager, Watershed Plans and Analytics and Jon Nodwell, Program Manager, Watershed Monitoring

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top