2018 Watershed Report Card
- PDF (5.6mb)


2013 Watershed Report Card
- PDF (5.2MB)

Watershed Report Card - Protecting Our Watersheds
- issued 2007
- PDF ( 2.9mb)


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About the Watershed Report Card

In In 2007, using the 2003 Conservation Ontario guidelines for Watershed Reporting, Central Lake Ontario Conservation embarked on producing a Watershed Report Card called Protecting our Watershed (pdf) as a means of reporting watershed health through the use of environmental indicators. PDF of old Report Card. The report card in turn allowed us and our partners to better target programs and measure environmental change.  You are likely well aware that it is the strong and resilient natural ecosystems that help us to adapt to the many different challenges including the impacts of climate change, rapid urbanization, stressed biodiversity and increased pollution. 

While we were satisfied with the report card we produced in 2007, and received positive feedback from our partners and stakeholders, we recognized that with 36 Conservation Authorities across the province, there was a need to collaborate better and produce a standard report card that captured watershed health across Ontario. 

In 2009, we met with our Conservation Authority colleagues and technical and communication experts from Conservation Ontario to create a standard report card template and revise the technical guidelines created in 2003. It is this Guide to Developing Conservation Authority Watershed Report Cards that formed the foundation of the 2013 Watershed Report Card for Central Lake Ontario Conservation watersheds.   We now bring you the third in the series of Watershed Report Cards, the 2018 Watershed Report Card taking data collected during the period of 2012 to 2016. 


How do we measure watershed health?

There are four primary indicators measured in the Watershed Report Card to provide a snapshot of land and water resource health.  They are forests, wetlands, surface water and groundwater.  Central Lake Ontario Conservation (CLOCA) staff are responsible for monitoring watershed conditions throughout our jurisdiction, targeting these specific environmental indicators.  Quality and quantity of surface water, groundwater, forest cover and interior forest habitat conditions, riparian and wetland cover are used to help assess change and watershed health today, providing a point of reference for future comparisons.  

Our Forests

We know that trees clean our air and water, prevent erosion, reduce flooding and provide important habitat for wildlife.  From our own observations and extensive research by others, the more forested a watershed is, the healthier it will be and the higher the grade. 

Our Wetlands - Durham Region Coastal Wetland Monitoring Project

Durham Region supports a concentration of several coastal wetlands on the north shore of Lake Ontario. These wetlands provide unique ecological functions including flood control, sediment and nutrient filtration, shoreline protection and habitat for wildlife. The Durham Region Coastal Wetland Monitoring Project (DRCWMP) is a long-term monitoring program that uses biological and physical indicators to assess the condition of these coastal wetlands. 

Our Surface Water

As water travels over land, it picks up contaminants like salt and oil from our roadways and fertilizer or pesticide from our lawns.  The aquatic organisms that live within our creeks, ponds and wetlands that receive this polluted water, are sensitive to the resulting changing conditions.  By their presence or absence, they tell us a lot about the quality and health of that water and where we can make improvements.

Our Groundwater

Surprise! Not all water travels over land.  A great deal of it is absorbed by the ground trapping rain and snow and releasing it slowly, back into our creeks and wells, cleaning it and contributing to a reduced risk of flooding and erosion.  It acts like a giant reservoir and large pockets of water under the ground are appropriately called aquifers.  But even under the ground, covered by sand, gravel, rock and soil, it can be polluted.  This not only presents huge risks to rural communities that rely on water from their wells for drinking, but that same water eventually makes its way downstream as surface water.  It may end up in a creek where you fish or in Lake Ontario where we get our drinking water.  By monitoring the quality and quantity of groundwater, reducing the risks of contamination through improved human actions, we can ensure a healthier sustainable water supply, now and in the future.


So How Are We Doing?

Conservation Authority watershed report cards show an average grade of ‘C’ for surface water quality and ‘C’ for forest conditions. Groundwater appears to be in better shape, however it is much more difficult to assess on a watershed-wide basis.
The first set of Conservation Authority watershed report cards released in 2013 and showed similar results. The main challenges to healthy watersheds continue to be the impacts of urbanization and climate change.
Concentrations of nitrate and chloride concentrations in our groundwater are better than the drinking water guidelines in 9 out of 11 wells which received an A grade. While there has been an improvement in surface water quality in the Bowmanville Creek, we have seen a decline in the Lynde, Oshawa and Farewell Creek watersheds since the 2013 Watershed Report Card.  

The loss of ash trees in our forests due to the invasive species Emerald Ash-borer are another challenge impacting our watershed forests.  Additional stressors like the building of highways and continued urbanization have contributed significantly to declining forest conditions.  Recent compensation efforts to replace tree loss associated with the 400 highway series, will take 7 to 10 years before our GIS technology can detect the improvements. 

Restoration and enhancement initiatives to improve water quality, vegetation cover, and wildlife habitat will be necessary in our coastal wetlands and their watersheds to improve overall health of these important ecosystems. 

For more information on the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Watershed Report Card, and how you can help us work toward healthy watersheds, please contact:

Patricia Lowe, BLA, OALA, CSLA
Director, Stewardship, Education & Communication
100 Whiting Avenue
Oshawa, Ontario L1H 3T3
Tel 905-579-0411 ext 126 
Fax 905-579-0994
Email –

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"Everything is
connected to
everything else."
- Aldo Leopoid

Healthy Watersheds For Today & Tomrrow
The health of our watersheds, reflects the wellbeing of our mind, body and soul.