Canada Water Act annual report for 2019 to 2020: chapter 3

3 Freshwater monitoring

ECCC in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments and others conduct three types of monitoring in fresh water across Canada to obtain information on:

3.1 Water quantity monitoring

The National Hydrometric Program (NHP), a partnership between federal, provincial and territorial governments, is responsible for providing critical hydrometric data, information, and knowledge that Canadians and their institutions need to make informed water management decisions to protect and provide stewardship of fresh water in Canada. These data are available on ECCC’s Wateroffice website. The Water Survey of Canada, which is part of ECCC’s National Hydrological Service (NHS), is the federal partner and primary operator of the NHP network in Canada.

The NHP is co-managed by the National Administrators Table (NAT) and the NHP Coordinators’ Committee, both consisting of members responsible for the administration of hydrometric monitoring agreements in each province or territory and one national administrator designated by Canada. Both groups met regularly throughout 2019-2020 to discuss program issues. Regular input from both groups and an annual survey of NAT partner satisfaction provide valuable input on program operations, documentation and dissemination practices, and available training resources for the NHP.

ECCC has hydrometric agreements with nine provinces, Yukon and Northwest Territories, and with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada for Nunavut for the collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of water quantity data. These agreements have been administered cooperatively since 1975 and, with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Saskatchewan, have been renewed since 2008. In addition, NHS is a co-signee of an annual Memorandum of Agreement on Water with the province of Prince Edward Island. The intent of the Agreement is to coordinate the efforts of the provincial and federal governments to monitor the health of aquatic ecosystems, including water quantity, on PEI to ensure that the sustainability of the province’s water resources is maintained for environmental, social and economic benefit.

Agreements for specific water programs require participating governments to specify the amount of funding each will pay and the information and expertise they will provide, in agreed ratios. For ongoing activities such as the hydrometric monitoring agreements with each provincial and territorial government, cost-sharing is in accordance with each party’s need for the data.

3.1.1 National hydrometric monitoring network

During 2019-2020, the national hydrometric monitoring network of the NHP in Canada consisted of 2865 hydrometric monitoring stations (see Table 1 and Figure 1). During this period, ECCC operated 2220 of these hydrometric stations. Of the ECCC-operated stations, 1156 were fully or partially federally funded. The remaining stations were operated by ECCC on behalf of provincial and territorial governments or a third-party interest, and cost-sharing was based on specific needs and requirements (see Table 1). In Quebec, the Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change operated 227 stations, some funded in whole or in part by the Government of Canada.

Table 1: Stations within the National Hydrometric Monitoring Network

Table 1: Stations within the National Hydrometric Monitoring Network
ECCC-operated (by cost arrangement)
Province/Territorya Federal Cost-sharedb Province/ Territory Third party Non-ECCC-operated (various cost arrangements) Total by province or territory
Alberta 77 159 160 34 55 485
British Columbia 48 181 209 0 6 444
Manitoba 26 83 108 0 179 396
New Brunswick 14 17 24 1 0 56
Newfoundland & Labrador 15 32 70 0 0 117
Nova Scotia 10 6 12 3 0 31
Northwest Territories 43 23 20 17 0 103
Nunavut 7 2 13 3 0 25
Ontario 127 68 341 9 43 588
Prince Edward Island 0 5 1 4 0 10
Quebec 17 0 0 0 227 244
Saskatchewan 97 50 13 0 135 295
Yukon 9 26 26 10 0 71
Total 490 652 997 81 645 2865

a Hydrometric monitoring stations located within the boundaries of each province, no matter which office operates them.

b Cost-shared stations are those that are partially funded by the federal government, provincial/territorial governments, and third parties. The cost-share ratio varies by station.

Note: The network also includes a small number of designated International Gauging Stations located in the United States that are not included here as they support International Joint Commission activities not covered under the CWA.

There were no significant changes to the size of the national hydrometric monitoring network in 2019-2020 although the network did undergo a number of small adjustments.

Figure 1. National Hydrometric Monitoring Network
Figure 1. National Hydrometric Monitoring Network
Long description

Figure 1 is a map of Canada indicating the location of 2865 hydrometric monitoring stations. (See Table 1)

In 2019-2020, more than 50 of the 336 cableways were addressed either by repairing, repurposing or replacing the cableways through renewal investment. With last year’s repair of 40 cableways, a total of 25% of the cableways have been repaired in the last two years. Several cableways have been replaced with alternative technologies.

In 2019-2020, 160 of the 560 stations with creosote stilling well sites were decommissioned. Environmental checklists and best management practices have been prepared to ensure environmental compliance with all construction and decommissioning projects.

3.1.2 Data dissemination

After-hour support was provided during the 2019 spring freshet to ensure real-time hydrometric data were available 24/7 during high water periods.

In autumn 2019, NHS began to disseminate provisional daily water level and discharge to the real-time graphic and tabular page of the Wateroffice website. Provincial and territorial partners can now view daily values online the next day. Previously, provincial and territorial partners would have received provisional daily water level and discharge via email if needed or they would have waited for the final approved data package, which NHS releases on a quarterly basis. By making provisional daily water level and discharge data available online, NHS is providing partners with data in a more timely fashion to conduct important hydrological analysis.

The data dissemination systems were modified substantially as the NHS moved the production system to the Aquarius Next Generation (NG) Cloud-based delivery. This was a major transition for the program, with no impact on data dissemination.

Development was ongoing to automate the uploading process of the approved daily data from the data production system to the National Archive Hydrometric Database. The offline historical databases in the National Archive were released four times: April 2019, July 2019, October 2019, and January 2020.

3.2 Freshwater quality monitoring

Freshwater quality monitoring has been a core ECCC program since the Department’s inception in the early 1970s. The Department’s monitoring and surveillance activities are critical for assessing and reporting on water quality status and trends, in addition to fulfilling federal domestic and international commitments and legislative obligations. Data are also used to support the water quality indicator in the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (see Section 4).

Much of the program’s monitoring is carried out through federal-provincial/territorial agreements, ensuring cost-effective and non-duplicative program delivery. ECCC has water quality monitoring agreements with British Columbia, Yukon, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Quebec.

The objectives of the federal-provincial/territorial water quality monitoring agreements are to:

The Long-Term Freshwater Quality Monitoring Network consists of 171 federal, federal-provincial and federal-territorial sampling sites across Canada (see Figure 2). The map also displays 35 sites that are monitored in Canada-US Transboundary Waters, as well as the location of sites monitored at various times under the Federal Great Lakes Program. Water quality samples are routinely collected at these sites for physical and chemical water quality parameters such as temperature, pH, alkalinity, turbidity, major ions, nutrients and metals. Pesticides, bacteria and additional parameters of concern are also monitored where site-specific water quality issues exist. The National Long-Term Water Quality Monitoring Data are published online.

Figure 2: Long-term water quality monitoring sites
Figure 2: Long-term water quality monitoring sites
Long description

Figure 2 is a map of Canada indicating the location of long-term water quality monitoring sites. The long-term freshwater quality monitoring network consists of federal, federal-provincial and federal-territorial sampling sites across Canada. They are situated in the following ocean drainage areas: Arctic Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, Hudson Bay and Pacific Ocean.

Since 2010, ECCC’s Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Division has utilized the Risk Based Adaptive Management Framework (RBAMF) to optimize its monitoring activities. The RBAMF is defined through a set of established pillars that guide its various components. These pillars include defining monitoring responsibilities, identifying risks to water quality at monitoring sites and across Canada’s drainage basins, optimizing monitoring operations, and ensuring data quality and data access, all of which improves reporting outcomes.

Existing long-term monitoring sites (Figure 2) have been classified under a series of national scale networks, namely Large Rivers, Large Lakes Priority, Transboundary Rivers, Reference, and High Stress where each network included a set of specific national monitoring objectives. Each network was developed to improve comparability of monitoring data.

ECCC’s Freshwater Quality Monitoring Program is aligned with Canada’s major watersheds (Pacific, Arctic/Athabasca, Hudson Bay and Atlantic watersheds). This program promotes robust water resource management across Canada.

For more information, please consult the ECCC Freshwater Quality Monitoring website.

3.3 Biological monitoring

In addition to the physical-chemical water quality monitoring detailed above, ECCC also undertakes biological monitoring using benthic macroinvertebrate communities to assess the health of aquatic ecosystems.

The Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) is a component of the Freshwater Quality Monitoring Program for assessing the biological condition of freshwater ecosystems in Canada using standardized data collection and analysis methods. This component, based on decades of research and development in many countries, has been adopted by multiple organizations across Canada. The continued success of CABIN is a direct result of collaboration and data sharing. It is led by ECCC’s National CABIN Team, which provides online data management, assessment tools and models, field and laboratory analysis protocols, certification and training, and ecological research and development. Network partners share their observations within the national database. CABIN partners include federal, provincial and territorial government departments, industry, academia, Indigenous communities, and non‑governmental organizations such as community watershed groups. The CABIN Science Team, consisting of ECCC and external scientists with expertise in large-scale ecological monitoring, provides science advice and recommendations.

Since the early development of nationally standardized biological monitoring programs in the 1990s, data from over 10 000 locations across the country are represented in the CABIN database. In 2019-2020, data were collected at 956 sites in several sub-basins across the country by ECCC and its collaborators (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: CABIN monitoring sites
Figure 3: CABIN monitoring sites
Long description

Figure 3 is a map of Canada that shows the location of the CABIN monitoring sites across the country. In 2019-2020, data were collected at 956 sites in several sub-basins across the country by Environment and Climate Change Canada and its collaborators.

3.4 Monitoring information by region

Summaries of the monitoring conducted in the various regions across Canada are discussed below on a region by region basis (with Yukon overlapping both the Pacific Coast and Northern Canada regions), as follows:

3.4.1 Pacific coast

Pacific coast water quantity monitoring

In British Columbia during the April 2019 to March 2020 period, annual streamflow volumes ranged from below to near normal (relative to the 1980-2019 time period, using 21 indicator stations in various hydrologic zones). Spring snowmelt-runoff was generally below normal due to below normal winter snowpack. Summer and fall streamflow was below normal on the coast and near to above normal in interior British Columbia.

The water quantity monitoring network in British Columbia (444 stations) was adjusted as follows:

Pacific coast water quality monitoring

Water quality monitoring was conducted in the Pacific watershed (which includes parts of British Columbia and Yukon) under the Canada-British Columbia Water Quality Monitoring Agreement and under the Canada-Yukon Agreement on Water Quality and Ecosystem Monitoring.

In the area of Yukon that drains westward to the Pacific Ocean, two sites on the Alsek and Dezadeash Rivers were monitored in collaboration with Environment Yukon. The other water quality monitoring sites in Yukon, which drain to the Bering Sea and were previously assigned as part of the Pacific drainage basin, are included in the report section on Northern Canada (see Section 3.4.2).

In British Columbia, ECCC conducted joint monitoring with the provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy at 40 sites in total, which includes 3 automated stations (described in more detail below). The sites include 38 river sites and 2 lake sites.

Finally, in 2019-2020, ECCC, in cooperation with Parks Canada, operated five long-term water quality monitoring sites in the Glacier, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks in British Columbia and Kluane National Park in Yukon. These relatively pristine sites provide important reference information for comparison with sites influenced by human activities. Many of these sites are also located in key areas for assessing climate change.

Pacific coast CABIN monitoring

In British Columbia, CABIN monitoring is jointly conducted under the Canada-British Columbia Water Quality Monitoring Agreement. Under the Agreement, ECCC and the provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy continued to collaborate on data collection for reference model maintenance as well as development and site assessment.

In 2019-2020, ECCC collected CABIN data from 37 stream and river sites in British Columbia: 21 sites for reference model maintenance and development, and 16 sites for assessment of biological condition, co-located at long-term physical-chemical monitoring sites.

The nine reference models available to all CABIN users to conduct biological assessments in watersheds in British Columbia were developed collaboratively by federal and provincial agencies (i.e. ECCC, Parks Canada, British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy). Models are available for the Fraser River, Skagit River Basin, Okanagan Basin, British Columbia Central/North Coast, Northeastern British Columbia, Peace Basin and Rocky Mountains national parks. There are two preliminary models for the British Columbia South Coast and the Columbia and Okanagan Basins which are currently being revised.

3.4.2 Northern Canada

Northern Canada water quantity monitoring

Spring break up in the western portion of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon were uncommon, in that mechanical break-ups of ice cover were not widely experienced, and thermal break-up events were predominant (which is rare), resulting in unseasonably low water levels during the break up period. Post break up, water levels in the north were within normal levels during 2019-2020, with the exception of Kluane Lake. Kluane Lake continues to experience significantly lower peak water levels as a result of a 2016 river piracy event, where the Slims River, which drains into Kluane Lake, had its flow diverted as a result of the retreat of the Kaskawulsh Glacier. To better describe and capture the change in flow characteristics, the Kluane River at the outlet of Kluane Lake was re-established as an annual discharge station, with operating costs being shared between the Yukon Government and the Water Survey of Canada.

The water quantity monitoring network in this region was adjusted as follows:

Note: Within Nunavut, 25 hydrometric stations are run by ECCC in accordance with the established cost-share agreement. Operational funds are apportioned in accordance with a specific cost-share arrangement between ECCC, CIRNAC, Parks Canada Agency and the City of Iqaluit.

Northern Canada water quality monitoring

ECCC monitored 52 sites within the Arctic watershed and across the North: 22 in the Northwest Territories, 14 in Nunavut, 13 in Yukon and 3 in Northern Alberta. Most of these sites were operated under agreement with Parks Canada and included 7 national parks (Auyittuq, Quttinirpaaq, Ukkusiksalik, Aulavik, Ivvavik, Tuktut Nogait, and Nahanni). Many of these sites were co-located with ECCC’s gauge stations.

In the Yukon, 13 river sites were monitored in collaboration with Environment Yukon, including one automated site.

Many of the High Arctic sites are considered relatively pristine and provide an important baseline and reference for comparison with respect to long-range transport of atmospheric pollutants to high-latitude areas, as well as for any potential future influences from human activities in the North. ECCC also operates water quality sites on major rivers in the North, some associated with transboundary basins (e.g. Mackenzie River, Slave River, Liard River, Yukon River) or are significant northern watersheds (e.g. Coppermine River, Thelon River, Great Bear Lake/River).

Northern Canada CABIN monitoring

In 2019-2020, ECCC collected CABIN data from five stream and river sites co-located at long-term physical-chemical monitoring sites in the Yukon. Northern bioassessment models are available for site assessment of these CABIN samples collected in the Yukon River Basin and also available to other government organizations conducting biomonitoring programs (i.e. Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Yukon Territory Government). A bioassessment model is also available in the South Nahanni Basin in the Northwest Territories, which is primarily used by Parks Canada.

3.4.3 Prairie region

Prairie region water quantity monitoring

In June, July, and August, steady rain events in the north west and central parts of the province resulted in higher than average flows in the North Saskatchewan and Athabasca River Basins compared to the average over the past five years. Higher than average water levels persisted for several weeks into July and August.

Peace River and Grande Prairie areas encountered early spring conditions with ice break up one or two weeks earlier than normal. Rivers in the area had high water events at the end of June 2019 with some highest water levels on record in the past 30 years. Water levels stayed higher than normal until mid-September for most of these rivers.

Prairie region water quality monitoring
Athabasca Watershed

ECCC Monitored 12 stations in the Athabasca Watershed in Alberta. All but two of these stations are monitored under the Oil Sands Monitoring Program in partnership with Alberta Environment and Parks. The monitoring work done under this plan was designed to track the cumulative effects of oil sands development in air, water, wildlife, and biodiversity to help inform government and industry decision-making processes.

Hudson Bay watershed

As part of the National Long-Term Freshwater Quality Monitoring Network and in support of the Prairie Provinces Water Board Master Agreement on Apportionment, ECCC monitored 12 sites along the main rivers crossing between the Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba provincial boundaries. This work supported annual reporting on water quality objectives for nutrient, metal, major ion, and pesticide parameters established by Canada, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The water quality data and information obtained was also used to support the Lake Winnipeg Basin Program. Water quality data are routinely shared with partners and collaborators involved in the Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium, including the Manitoba government, other federal departments, universities and institutes working on Lake Winnipeg.

ECCC worked with Manitoba Sustainable Development under the Science Subsidiary Arrangement made pursuant to the Canada-Manitoba Memorandum of Understanding Respecting Lake Winnipeg and the Lake Winnipeg Basin. The agreement, signed in 2012, supports the development of science-related data, indicators, and nutrient targets. Other key transboundary monitoring sites are located on the Red River, Pembina River, Winnipeg River, and Souris River. The Red River and Souris River, in particular, have encountered many water quality issues over time (nutrients, metals, pesticides, salinity). Water quality and water quantity issues on these rivers are addressed formally through the International Red River Board and International Souris River Board under the International Joint Commission (IJC). Regular monitoring updates were provided to these boards and to a number of institutional partners in 2019-2020.

All of the transboundary rivers in the watershed were monitored regularly (8 to 12 times per year). During the 2019-2020 open water season, the Red River was monitored more intensively (biweekly to weekly) to address concerns related to increased water releases from Devils Lake (North Dakota) crossing the Canadian border, and to improve the nutrient loading estimates for Lake Winnipeg. Additionally, ECCC operated an automated station on the Red River at Emerson, Manitoba as a real-time alert system to support water quality and transboundary flood monitoring. Real-time data were used to assess water quality changes and episodic precipitation events. In addition, the Red River was also monitored for a suite of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, carbamates (fungicide) and sulfonyl urea (herbicide) to assess transboundary contamination.

As an international and interprovincial transboundary waterway, Lake of the Woods is relatively unique in the number of jurisdictions and international organizations, such as the IJC, that have a role to play for successful environmental management. Given the continued local and national concerns with noxious and potentially toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms and water quality in Lake of the Woods, ECCC has just completed an intensive four year study involving research and monitoring including the participation of academic partners. Results from the past four years will inform next steps and approaches to managing water quality issues in this basin.

Finally, under a Memoranda of Understanding with Parks Canada, sites in Banff, Jasper, and Waterton National Parks were also sampled by ECCC. These sites provided water quality information to Parks Canada and were used as reference sites as part of ECCC’s Long-Term Water Quality Monitoring Program.

Prairie region CABIN monitoring
Athabasca watershed

In the Athabasca watershed, under the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for the Oil Sands, CABIN sampling was conducted at 64 sites in the tributaries of the Lower Athabasca River in 2019. The plan also included biomonitoring sampling at 10 sites with 5 replicates in the mainstream of the Athabasca River using a modified CABIN approach for large rivers. Sampling sites in the Lower Athabasca River and its tributaries range from within the active oil sands development area (potentially impacted sites) to outside the development area, as well as beyond any natural exposure of the bituminous geologic formations in the region (reference sites). In 2019-2020, CABIN sampling was conducted at 16 sites on tributaries of the Peace River and 16 sites on tributaries on the Christina River as part of an expanded oil sands biomonitoring program. 

In addition to the biomonitoring associated with the Oil Sands program, ECCC collected CABIN data from two river sites in Alberta’s National Parks for assessment of biological condition, co-located at long-term physical-chemical monitoring sites. CABIN is also conducted by Parks Canada at other long term physical-chemical monitoring sites. There is a reference model available to all CABIN users to conduct biological assessments in the Rocky Mountain Parks watersheds developed by Parks Canada which overlaps the British Columbia-Alberta border.

3.4.4 Ontario region

Ontario region water quantity monitoring

There were notable prolonged, very high water events during spring freshet across the entirety of southern Ontario as well as the near north of Ontario. There was notable high water in the Ottawa River, overtopping the maximum high water levels experienced in 2017. There was very high water levels in the Great Lakes contributing to extended periods of shore flooding and in-land flooding. These flooding events led to orders by Transport Canada to limit boating access in the Ottawa and Muskoka areas, together with flooded roads, causing the Trans-Canada Highway to be closed for a period of several days.

Ontario region water quality monitoring

In Ontario, federal-provincial and Canada-United States water quality monitoring is supported through the Canada-Ontario Agreement on Great Lakes Water Quality and Ecosystem Health (for renewal in 2020)and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA) between Canada and the United States.

Monitoring results generated by ECCC contribute to indicators assessing the status of the Great Lakes ecosystem for toxic chemicals in water, sediments and fish as well as indicators on the status of nutrients, water quality and algae. Monitoring activities in Ontario pertain to the Great Lakes and Lake of the Woods.

Ontario region CABIN monitoring

To evaluate current (2019) benthic conditions in the Jackfish Bay (JFB) Area of Concern in Recovery and whether they are improving over time, ECCC sampled 11 CABIN sites using the Open Water Protocol. Four components were, or are, being assessed: sediment physicochemistry, contaminant bioaccumulation, benthic invertebrate community structure, and the toxicological responses of four invertebrates (Hyalella azteca, Chironomus riparius, Hexagenia spp. and Tubifex tubifex) in laboratory sediment toxicity tests. Toxicity tests have been delayed due to COVID-19 and will be completed at a later date. Fifteen reference sites, from locations mostly along the north shore of Lake Superior, were sampled in the same survey. Conditions at test sites are being compared to those at reference sites to determine current levels of degradation in the JFB. Results from the current survey are being compared to those from earlier surveys in 2003 to 2019 to determine if conditions in JFB are improving over time. Interim results indicate that some JFB sites remain degraded due to metal and PCDD and PCB-like dioxins in sediment, PCDD and PCB-like dioxin bioaccumulation in invertebrates, and benthic community impairment. Over time, conditions in JFB have been generally stable.

3.4.5 Quebec region

Quebec region water quantity monitoring
Quebec region water quality monitoring

In 2019-2020, ECCC operated 10 federal sites in the St. Lawrence River Basin. Seven of those sites were sampled monthly for physical parameters and nutrients. Some of those seven stations were also sampled for metals, pesticides, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The other three sites, located at the mouth of tributaries emptying into Lake Saint-Pierre, were sampled during the summer months for nutrients, while one of those sites (Yamaska) was also surveilled for pesticides.

In addition, 39 sites in the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries were monitored by the Province of Quebec according to the Canada-Quebec Water Quality Monitoring Agreement (2017-2022). Those stations were sampled monthly for physical parameters, nutrients, chlorophyll and fecal coliforms. During the summer months, metals were measured monthly at 9 of those stations.

Quebec region CABIN monitoring

In the St. Lawrence River Priority Ecosystem, biomonitoring activities were focused on assessing biological condition of riverine wetlands along the main stem of the river (using the CABIN Wetlands Protocol). Data were collected at 11 long-term wetland sites along the St. Lawrence (Lake St. Louis, Lake St. François, and Lake St. Pierre).

In the La Mauricie National Park, data were collected at three sites in a reference stream (using the CABIN Wadeable Streams Protocol) for analysis of long-term biomonitoring data, in partnership with Parks Canada.

Also, in collaboration with the Nunavik Research Centre (Makivik Corporation) and Nunavik Parks (Kativik Regional Government), ECCC sampled two CABIN reference sites in two streams in Kuujjuaq (Nunavik). Those were the first CABIN samples for Northern Quebec.

3.4.6 Atlantic region

Atlantic region water quantity monitoring
Atlantic region water quality monitoring

In the Atlantic watershed, federal-provincial water quality monitoring is supported through:

In 2019-2020, three federal-provincial and eight provincial sites were monitored under the Canada-Prince Edward Island Memorandum of Agreement, including one real time (automated) site on the Wilmot River. In addition, pesticide surveillance was conducted during the growing season. The sites are distributed across the province, with data available on the Government of Prince Edward Island’s website.

In 2019-2020, ECCC managed 13 federal sites (including two automated sites) in Nova Scotia in support of the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicator pertaining to water quality. Nova Scotia Environment provided support on data collection. The sites are located across the province and cover major watersheds within the Maritime Major Drainage Area, including those flowing into the Bay of Fundy.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, 24 federal-provincial and 56 provincial sites across the major drainage areas were sampled 4 to 8 times in 2019-2020. Data and station information from the sites are available on the Newfoundland and Labrador Water Resources website.

Under the Canada-New Brunswick Water Quality Agreement during 2019-2020, ten federal‑provincial sites were monitored on international and interprovincial transboundary rivers or their tributaries in the Saint John River (Wolastoq) and Restigouche River watersheds. Four additional real-time automated sites in the Saint John River (Wolastoq) watershed were also maintained by ECCC at the borders of the transboundary Big Presque Isle Stream, Aroostook River and Meduxnekeag River, and in the main channel at Gagetown.

The International St. Croix River Watershed Board, under the IJC, plays an important role in managing water levels, water quality, and fisheries between Maine and New Brunswick. The Board works collaboratively with stakeholders within the watershed by preventing and resolving disputes. ECCC monitored water levels at seven stations in the watershed and real time (automated) water quality at two stations and provided input to the Board's 2019 annual report to the IJC.

Atlantic region CABIN monitoring

In the Atlantic Provinces, 146 stream and river sites were monitored by ECCC and certified partners in 2019. Out of this total, 42 were monitored by ECCC, 66 by other federal departments or Parks Canada, 9 by provincial governments, and 29 by non-governmental organizations. This work supported federal-provincial water quality monitoring agreements with New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. The monitoring allowed partners to conduct assessments in transboundary watersheds (i.e. Saint John River [Wolastoq River]) and federal lands (i.e. national parks, Indigenous communities, and the Meaford and Gagetown Canadian Forces Bases).

Research in the use of new techniques for assessing the suitability of aquatic habitat to support aquatic life based on DNA collection, was also conducted as part of a collaborative project with the Genomic Research and Development Initiative. In 2019, 74 sites were sampled: 56 from New Brunswick, 7 from Nova Scotia, and 11 from Prince Edward Island. A reference model using DNA is currently being developed for the Atlantic Region.

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