For the summer of 2017 I was lucky enough to work for the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) as an assistant to the Water Resource Technician. This opportunity offered valuable skills and experience that I can take with myself for the rest of my academic career. The position put me in many fun and interesting environments and gave a perspective on environmental work that you do not receive from working with textbooks and scientific articles. While working in the field, you could feel the importance of the sampling and monitoring data that was collected and how it could be used to assess the current conditions of the watershed in addition to reviewing long term trends.
Some of the main tasks of the position included stream gauging at various sites, which involved taking manual measurements of how much water was flowing through the site at the time, provincial water quality monitoring, wetland turbidity monitoring, groundwater monitoring and base flow monitoring at many sites throughout the watershed. These monitoring initiatives main purpose was to help assess the current watershed conditions and collect data to add to the Conservation Authority`s database to help see long term trends. In addition to the main tasks of the position, I assisted in fish monitoring efforts, weather station maintenance and calibration, and stream monitoring site installations. With a smaller Conservation Authority, I had the opportunity to work on multiple projects, in different divisions of the CA. This diversity of projects ensured that there was always something interesting to work on.
The weather events of the summer were also very interesting, with record amounts of rainfall and many high intensity events. These conditions had a huge impact on the types of tasks that were available to complete on a day-to-day basis. High intensity precipitation events made for unsafe conditions in certain streams to collect data. The high frequency of rainfall also hampered base flow monitoring, which needs conditions where there is no runoff supply in the streams, when they are solely relying on aquifer/groundwater for their flow. These conditions offered a stark contrast to the previous summer of 2016 where the watershed was in constant drought and base flow monitoring efforts of that year were 3-4 times that of 2017. 2016-17 were the two hottest summers on record with two very different climatic events that the Ganaraska region experienced. As the climate changes further, I feel that the environmental work done at Conservation Authority’s, government agencies and other companies will be critical in helping to map future trends and create a sustainable management plan for years to come.
Written By: Josh Kreuklevin, GRCA Summer Student