Some of us may take water for granted.
Whether we get it from a well or a municipal pipe, there is a general understanding that our area is blessed with an abundant water supply. But how much is abundant? How many people, industries, farmers, wild life, can this watershed actually support? These questions can be answered through a watershed study that investigates the watershed’s dynamic, from the point of taking underground water and putting it back after its use. Watershed planning applies an understanding of capacity and establishes limits for growth and development in a region.
Since the Walkerton tragedy, water has become one of the most carefully monitored resources in the province. Most of us take comfort in the legislative and regulatory framework that protects our water. Others are less convinced, and see growing threats to this critical resource; not from obviously abusive activities but from small, seemingly unrelated and sometimes irreversible decisions that can have a lasting impact on our water sources that usually relate to land use.
Last week, we heard from a group of experts from our community who have formed Baxter Creek Watershed Alliance (BCWA) to bring their expertise and concerns to our residents. More than 100 people joined them at the Millbrook Legion for an informative presentation from this recently established, non-profit Environmental non-government organization. Its objective is to develop a community conservation vision for the Baxter Creek Watershed, one that preserves and enhances the local watershed environment for future generations of humans and wildlife.
Like most rural settlements in the province, the township’s drinking water comes from groundwater. Whether accessed through municipal wells or private ones, our water is coming from the Baxter Creek watershed. This is a drainage basin sitting almost entirely in Cavan-Monaghan Township that catches rain and snow which seeps into the Otonabee River, connecting via a series of other watersheds into Lake Ontario and beyond.
Watershed boundaries are designed by nature: hills such as the Oak Ridges Moraine separate watersheds by containing the movement of water through air, land, surface and groundwater, affecting the physical nature of the water systems they contain. This movement is known as the “hydrologic cycle”. Simply put, stuff that happens around the watershed can find its way into it, to no good end.
BCWA seeks to engage residents and decision makers in Cavan-Monaghan to support actions that result in a clean, healthy watershed for Baxter Creek. This includes making sustainable land use decisions that are based on environmental science and principles. Good decisions start with good information, so the work begins with fact collecting to establish a baseline of data to ensure decision making is based on evidence. BCWA sees the opportunity to begin a collaborative process that ultimately results in a local watershed plan: one where informed citizens and municipal leaders work together to create a framework for the management of activities that affect land, water and resources within a watershed area in order to protect it for the future.
How can you help? You can join the group and learn more about what they are trying to protect. Residents can also participate in BCWA citizen science monitoring activities, help with local mapping work and encourage our community leaders make planning decisions that protect the watershed. Broad community support will also help the organization attract grants to conduct more research.
We all have an interest in protecting our water and we have a responsibility to recognize and manage our impacts. The Baxter Creek Watershed Alliance is eager to help us do just that. For more information about this organization, visit www.baxtercreekwatershedalliance.org. KG