Meet the Expert – Amanjot Singh
CVC’s Amanjot Singh is a Senior Engineer of Water and Climate Change Science. His job is to analyze water quality data and create tools and models to help us understand potential threats to water quality.
What motivates you to do this work?
Water has always fascinated me – it supports all life on Earth. Water is used for drinking and for recreation, it provides habitats, like rivers and wetlands, for aquatic life, and it supports the agriculture that feeds us. Linking these pieces of the puzzle is what I like the most about my job. Our climate is changing and there is pressure from urbanization. I want to understand how these stressors might threaten access to clean and safe water resources for plants and animals in our watershed. My team and I are building state-of-the-art real-time monitoring network and modeling tools to further our understanding.
What is real-time monitoring?
Usually when we talk about water quality monitoring, we mean going into a river or lake, filling up a bottle with a water sample and sending it to a lab to be analyzed. We call this a grab sample. Real-time monitoring, however, allows us to collect measurements of key water quality parameters like temperature, dissolved oxygen and turbidity once every 15 minutes using sensors stationed throughout the Credit River Watershed. These sensors are connected through the cellular network and automatically upload data to our database so we can view them in “real-time” without ever leaving the office. This data is also available on our website.
Why is it important to monitor water quality in real-time?
Real-time data are measured continuously so they capture changes in key water quality indicator parameters that happen quickly. This is important when big storm events come through or if there is a spill. Monitoring such events is important for protecting drinking water sources. Without real-time data it would be very difficult to measure the water quality impacts of these events.
We use grab sampling to complement our real-time monitoring by analyzing parameters like nutrients and metals that cannot be measured with sensors. Together this gives us a more complete understanding of water quality conditions.
How does CVC use this data?
Real-time monitoring is helping us to develop a water quality model. This model will help us predict how water quality might be impacted by climate change and land-use change up to 50 years into the future.
The first step is to make sure that the model can accurately reflect today’s water quality conditions. We do this by comparing model results to our real-time water quality data to make sure they match up.
We will use the water quality model results to inform CVC’s Watershed Plan. The Watershed Plan is a tool that helps us understand the past and help us make better management decisions to build resiliency in our watershed. It identifies current and future water quality, health, and environmental problems and proposes solutions.
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Does your data gathering include seasonal and year-over-year measurements of the water table? I live on a semi rural property near Georgetown and have monitored the water level in my well on a random basis for the 30+ years I have lived here. This year it seems that in Spring the water table was lower than usual and has dropped faster than other years. Also, I have a sump pump in my basement and for the first time in 30+ years the pump never came on this Spring.
Hi David, thanks for reaching out. CVC maintains a long-term groundwater monitoring network that is composed of 19 wells, at 14 sites. One of these sites, consisting of 2 nested wells (a shallow and a deep) is located in Georgetown, Ontario. An analysis of the groundwater level plots during the period of May 2001 to May 2022 at the deeper of the 2 nested wells was performed. The analysis confirmed a downward trend over this period, which suggests lower recharge to the monitored aquifer and/ or greater rates of water taking from the aquifer over time. The lowest water level in the record was observed in September 2021.
The Credit River watershed is currently experiencing low water conditions due to below average winter and spring precipitation, which may be exacerbating the observed lower than normal groundwater levels. Increased monitoring of groundwater levels will be carried out for the remainder of the summer and into the fall of 2022. Thanks again for your question.