Summer Employment at GRCA – Maintaining our Watershed

My name is Mitchell Dwyer and I am a Fleming College student who has just completed my summer internship at the Ganaraska Region Conservation Authority (GRCA) as an Assistant Water Resource Technician. My internship at the GRCA provided me with a vast amount of knowledge, skill and self-confidence as I worked with many different people on a wide variety of tasks.

As an Assistant Water Resource Technician, I was tasked with monitoring projects in the watershed, the main jobs being; data collection from stream gauging, baseflow, wetlands and groundwater aquifers. Other tasks that were completed were rain gauge calibration, maintenance, and installation of new monitoring equipment. I was also lucky enough to do invasive species roadside surveying in Hamilton Township.

The main objectives for this summer were to collect data for steam gauging every week and to gather baseflow data during the driest parts of the summer. Stream gauging is done to determine the flow rate of the main streams in the watershed. The data that is collected is used to compare with past years and to give insight into the flows coming through the watershed each week. On the other hand there is base-flow; this data is gathered the same way as in stream gauging and through culverts around the watershed. Baseflows can only be monitored during low flows with no rain, so this summer only afforded a few brief opportunities for this to be done.

Our Wetland monitoring is done in two veins of the watershed; where Graham and Wilmot Creek enter Lake Ontario in Newcastle. This is a great way to spend a morning as we are on the water collecting samples at three separate areas of the stream. The purpose of this is to determine the turbidity, conductivity and total dissolved solids in the water downstream, mid-stream and upstream. The groundwater monitoring is done throughout the watershed and shows at what depth the aquifers are storing water. It was very interesting to see the changes this rainy summer had on both of our monitoring projects.

This summer has been a great learning experience for me and I am forever grateful to everyone at GRCA for all they have done for me. I highly recommend that anyone interested to stop by the office and learn more about the environment around the community and for any students looking for summer employment in the environmental field to apply, you will not be disappointed.