Chignecto Watershed Committee

EOS Eco-Energy, located in southeast New Brunswick, established the Chignecto Watersheds Committee (CWC) in 2017 to provide advice on the creation and ongoing implementation of a long-term water quality monitoring program in the Tantramar region. At the time, EOS was looking to help fill knowledge and data gaps because there had never been a water quality monitoring in the region. EOS knew that climate change could impact water quality and quantity but there was no local data which could make addressing climate impacts more challenging. It seemed like a natural progression for EOS (known for addressing other climate issues in the region) to help fill this gap. The CWC is an advisory committee of volunteer scientists dedicated to advising EOS staff as they monitor, assess, and educate the public about watersheds in the region. The CWC is made up of a wide range of local and regional groups and experts dedicated to the health of local watersheds and assisting EOS staff to prepare communities for the combined impacts of climate and land use change by promoting watershed awareness through public education, conducting long-term inland water monitoring, habitat assessments, riparian assessments and eventually performing subsequent restoration and protection activities. EOS’ watershed monitoring work has been funded by the New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund and the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund so far.

The initial goals of the CWC were to help EOS staff in developing a framework to begin long-term water monitoring in the Inner Bay of Fundy and Cape Tormentine Peninsula Watersheds by identifying sampling and monitoring methodology, establish water quality baselines, and to engage in public outreach and education on the importance of watershed health and the ecosystem services they provide. Over the course of EOS’ water quality monitoring program, these goals have expanded to include additional watersheds, more detailed monitoring metrics, and increased outreach and workshop opportunities. EOS also performs riparian and habitat assessments of local waterways to learn more about the watersheds and state of the waterways.

Entering its fifth year of water quality monitoring, EOS staff, under guidance by the CWC has collected baseline water quality data across the region, participated in and hosted numerous capacity-building and education workshops, and has identified a host of actions to maintain and increase watershed health that both community members and government can engage in.

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

Healthy watersheds are a vital component of healthy, vibrant communities and critical to the overall health and sustainability of New Brunswick. Water quality faces threats from climate change across the province, and the Tantramar region is among one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change impacts due to its low-lying coastal location. Water monitoring is an essential step in managing and protecting regional water resources in the face of climate change.

The monitoring region covers 30 sites across four sub-watersheds located within the Chignecto Isthmus: Cape Tormentine Peninsula, Tantramar River, Misaquash, and Johnson Creek (see figure below). Sites were chosen with the goal of monitoring a variety of different land uses. Because of the large territory and large number of sites, EOS staff visit one region per year. Because of provincial border restrictions due to COVID-19 and ongoing uncertainty during the pandemic, they have not yet monitored the Misaquash watershed which lies on the border between NS and NB.

In-situ measurements, consisting of pH, temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, total dissolved solids, and salinity are taken from May to October. Water samples are also collected and brought to the RPC Laboratory (New Brunswick’s provincial research organization) in Moncton for further in-depth analysis of 59 parameters. For the first time, EOS also measured Chlorophyll-a from June to September 2021 and analyzed results in the ACME laboratory at Mount Allison University.

Additionally, two community ‘Water Sampling Blitzes’ for E.coli were undertaken with the help of citizen scientists in the Cape Tormentine Watershed Composite to establish baselines within this watershed to better inform the monitoring process, and to engage the local community on the importance of watershed health. A total of 95 samples, across 54 fresh and saltwater sites were collected over the two events. The participation feedback received from community members highlights the amount of community interest in water quality and the power of community-based monitoring to sample large geographical areas. Citizen scientists have also helped EOS monitor for E.coli in Silver Lake in Sackville, NB.


A map of the Chigencto Watershed displaying the four watersheds where monitoring is taking place.

Image of a sustainable urban rainwater management project in the City of Vancouver. The schematic includes incorporation of greenscaping as a way of not only beautifying the streetscape, but also to provide functional purposes such as rainwater management and small areas of habitat refugia. The image shows the integration of sustainable design with climate adaptation actions. Specific foci are on the inclusion of more city street trees, native plants, areas for pollinators, rain gardens, and the creation of common spaces for gathering.

Identifying Actions

The New Brunswick Water Strategy (2017), as well as local sustainability, climate change adaptation, and emissions reduction plans (all funded by the NB ETF) include the need to monitor water quality and maintain healthy aquatic environments within the Tantramar region.

The CWC, a technical advisory committee with a wide range of expertise in the region, was established in 2017 to help EOS staff address climate change impacts on water quality and quantity within the Inner Bay of Fundy Composite and part of the Cape Tormentine Composite Watersheds. This mandate was later expanded to include the Maringouin Peninsula and Dorchester area in 2020.

The scarcity of existing data of local watershed health supported the need for EOS, along with its watershed committee, to collect baseline data and the establishment of a long-term monitoring program in the region. From the analysis of preliminary data, EOS staff and the CWC members identified initial sampling sites, priority areas, and gaps in knowledge that needed to be addressed.

Monitoring will provide EOS and members of its CWC with the data necessary to gain a better understanding of Chignecto Watersheds and could lead to the undertaking of any necessary restoration or protection activities, ultimately ensuring healthy watersheds, sustainable ecosystems, and resilient communities. Advice and guidance from the CWC has been a vital part of EOS’ successful water monitoring program to date.

In addition to monitoring, EOS has previously undertaken a variety of projects that include capacity building and community engagement as part of their key tenets. Educating the public on the importance of watershed health in the face of a changing climate can enhance watershed health and contribute to increasing climate resilience in these communities. These activities have included free workshops for both youth and adults, school visits, brochures, information booths, and a webpage with reports, resources, monitoring results, interactive maps, and more.


The creation of the CWC included a host of actions to build capacity and better inform the monitoring process within the watershed. The CWC identified six focus areas for actions throughout the first year of the project:

  • A lack of existing data
  • Where to focus water monitoring in the watershed
  • Sampling methodology
  • Sample analysis
  • Public education and outreach
  • Community engagement and action

EOS hired a watershed coordinator to conduct research on existing watersheds, as well as to engage with local and regional actors to better understand collection and operating procedures, and methodologies around watershed management. The EOS watershed coordinator reached out to key resource people and local experts to form the CWC to strengthen the scientific foundation of the water monitoring program she was tasked with creating and to provide continued guidance and advice. The watershed coordinator also created partnerships to share resources and acquire sampling equipment. The Community Based Environmental Monitoring network was one such group that provided sampling equipment, resource materials, and access to their online Wet-Pro Water Quality Monitoring Certification Course for EOS staff and sampling volunteers to get certified.

EOS staff and some members of the CWC participated in a variety of workshops, webinars, conferences, and meetings to build organizational capacity and to inform how best to monitor water quality within the watershed and perform habitat and riparian assessments.

While water quality monitoring has been undertaken since the outset of the project, education and outreach actions have taken a variety of forms:

Capacity building within the CWC has been advanced throughout the course of the project. CWC members and volunteers continue to take part in educational workshops and learning opportunities, including continued Wet-Pro certification, and leadership training.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

Overall, EOS staff, under the guidance of the CWC, has been very successful in monitoring, assessments, outreach, data sharing, and public education. Data collection is ongoing, and water quality results are being compared against provincial water quality guidelines, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic health, Health Canada Guidelines for Recreational Activities, and baseline results established in 2018. This data will be used by EOS, the CWC members and regional partners to identify trends in water quality and to develop a better understanding of maintaining and improving water quality, as well as understanding how climate change can affect water quality in the future. Further, it is hoped that the continued collection of baseline watershed data across the Chignecto Watersheds will be used to develop a watershed management plan to ensure long-term, sustainable water resources which are essential for the resilience of the Tantramar Region.

Given the success of watershed monitoring, outreach, and education activities, the program has been funded in each subsequent year by the NB ETF and habitat assessments of various rivers and brooks by the New Brunswick Water Trust Fund. This has allowed EOS to expand monitoring and assessment projects into other watersheds such as Maringouin Peninsula and Dorchester area, while continuing to engage local partners and increase environmental awareness of the importance of watershed health in the region.

Building on the success and momentum of the program, in 2021 alone, EOS staff facilitated over 20 events and were able to reach over 1500 people over 58 hours of local programming. Notable events included providing “Clean, Drain, Dry’ signage at Silver Lake and an invasive species workshop to increase awareness of the spread of invasive species in the region, a ‘Frog Walk’ where participants were educated on local frog and toad species in the region, a ‘Rainwater Harvesting and Ground Water Protection Workshop’, school visits at Port Elgin’s Regional School, and public presentations of the state of the Tantramar River watershed report and a habitat assessment of Joe Brook. The CWC reviews the water quality monitoring and habitat assessment results annually and provides feedback to EOS staff including guidance on next steps such as new project ideas and research opportunities.

Next Steps

EOS hopes to obtain further funding to continue water quality monitoring throughout 2022 and into 2023. The CWC recommends that knowledge gaps in the Chignecto Watersheds continue to be addressed through the long-term monitoring program. The CWC and EOS are hoping to expand knowledge of the watersheds through the collection and integration of Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network data, hydrological data, further riparian health data, and fish and habitat data.

They also recommend that the program return to the Cape Tormentine Peninsula Watershed area in 2022-2023 to obtain a second year of information about the state of water quality within that watershed.

Dependent on funding, EOS staff also plans on further expanding public outreach and educational activities in the area to include bulk well-water testing (for evidence of saltwater intrusion) and a workshop series on how to use rain barrels, groundwater protection, living shorelines, and to create a team of youth ‘Water Rangers’ to assist in recreational water quality testing. EOS staff look forward to the continued guidance and advice of the CWC.