Government of New Brunswick

This series of fact sheets presents details on water quality and other information on various New Brunswick watersheds.

The fact sheets are designed for use by anyone interested in the province's rivers and streams. Additional fact sheets will be added as they become available.

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Each information poster contains the following sections as described below:

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Location 

This section shows where the watershed is located in New Brunswick and provides information on its size.

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Physical setting and Climate 

This section shows a map of the watershed in relation to provincial ecoregions. A brief summary of climatic conditions is also provided. The climate data presented for each watershed can be compared to results for other sites and areas of the province through this Environment Canada web site.

Ecoregions are large areas of land that have similar environmental conditions, vegetation and wildlife. The nature of an ecoregion is determined by its location, topography, underlying rocks and soils, and climate.

 

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Fish community

This section provides information on the main species of fish that are known to be found. The information presented is based on available survey information and other species may be found in addition to those listed.

Land Use

This section shows a map that provides information on land use for the watershed, in major categories such as forested, wetland, occupied or agriculture. The proportion of land use in each category is also presented in the form of a pie chart.

 

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Geology

Since a watershed is influenced by the underlying bedrock, this section shows a geology map and provides information for the major bedrock types found in the watershed.

Sedimentary rocks in New Brunswick are usually sandstones, siltstones or shales. Igneous rocks in the province are mostly granitic or volcanic.

Sedimentary rocks containing carbonate minerals are also mapped. Generally, carbonate-rich and sedimentary bedrock is associated with less acidic surface waters (higher pH level), whereas rivers on igneous bedrock may be more acidic (lower pH level).

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Water Quality Survey

This section shows the results of water quality sampling. The period of sampling varies between watersheds, but the results are usually based on at least 3-5 years of data.

Results are presented using the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Water Quality Index which is widely used across Canada. The index is based on measurements of 14 different substances. The results are mapped, summarizing average water quality for the period of the survey.

New Brunswick Watersheds - Key indicators, Bassins hydrographiques du Nouveau Brunswick - Indicateurs clés

Dissolved oxygen or DO

DO is essential for fish and many other forms of aquatic life. DO varies with temperature, tending to be higher when the water temperature is low. DO can be measured in milligrams of oxygen per liter of water, or as oxygen saturation given as a percentage.

E. coli

E. coli is short for Escherichia coli, a type of bacteria. E. coli live primarily in the intestines of mammals and usually do not live long in the environment. The presence of E.coli is therefore used as an indicator of recent contamination by fecal matter, which may be of human or animal origin. Typical sources include wildlife, farm animals, and malfunctioning sewage systems (domestic or municipal). The presence of E.coli usually has little effect on the health of aquatic life, but may affect the suitability of the water for recreational use (such as swimming). This is why the results are compared to recreational use guidelines. Most E.coli is not itself hazardous to humans (with the exception of some less common strains) but the presence of E.coli indicates an increased risk that other more harmful pathogens may also be present.


Nitrate

Elevated concentrations of nitrate containing compounds can be harmful to aquatic life, and may contribute to excessive growth of algae or other aquatic plants. This may in turn lead to a variety of other adverse impacts including decreased oxygen levels and a reduction in biodiversity. When continued over time, this effect is termed eutrophication, an effect that can seriously affect the ecology and value of a water body. Major sources of excess nitrate in rivers and streams include fertilizer runoff from farm fields or domestic landscaping, runoff from manure piles, seepage from septic systems or malfunctioning sewage systems.

Eutrophication: build up of excessive nutrients which causes a dense growth of plant life, especially algae, which reduces the dissolved oxygen content, and often causes the extinction of other organisms.


pH

pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the water. It affects how much other substances (such as metals) dissolve in the water. Many organisms that live in water are sensitive to changes in pH and may be adversely affected by pH that is either too high or low. The pH varies naturally depending on bedrock, climate and vegetation cover, but may also be affected by industrial or other effluents, the exposure of some kinds of rock (for example during road construction) or drainage from some mining operations.

Acid deposition ("acid rain") remains a concern in New Brunswick and may contribute to pH values exceeding guidelines in some areas. This is most likely to occur in watersheds with large proportions of acid-sensitive bedrock (such as granite) and in the south, where acid deposition is greatest.


Community Involvement

In this section, information is given on community groups or associations that are active in the protection and stewardship of the watershed and lists some of their main interests or accomplishments.

Common recreational and other uses of the watershed are also listed.


Summary

This section provides a summary of comments on the main findings of the water quality survey results. In cases where water quality did not meet all guidelines, information on the probable causes is given, if known.


Additional Information

This final section includes contact information to enable readers to obtain more detail on any item or to ask questions.