Community-Based Water Monitoring: a Case Study of the Oak Ridges Moraine, Ontario, Canada
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The existence of community-based ecosystem monitoring activities is a relatively new concept that has been on the rise in past years for several reasons, including decreased governmental funding and capacity for monitoring, a growing awareness of environmental issues and a desire to participate in environmental planning and protection (Au et al., 2000; Bliss et al., 2001; Sharpe and Conrad, 2006; Sharpe et al., 2000). Water quality monitoring has become one of the most widespread types of community monitoring (Devlin, 2011). This research project is part of a larger initiative called the CURA H2O Project, based out of St. Mary’s University, Nova Scotia, Canada. CURA H2O looks at streamlining community-based water monitoring and resource management, with a focus on Nova Scotia. The province currently lacks a comprehensive policy water management framework (Sharpe and Conrad, 2006), but has very active community groups monitoring water resources to fill in the governance gap. This research project relates to one of CURA H2O’s objectives to review the state of CBM in Canada: the purpose of this research project is to investigate the state of community-based water monitoring in Southern Ontario, Canada, focusing on the Oak Ridges Moraine (ORM) landscape north of the Greater Toronto Area as a case study. The ORM was chosen for its ecological and hydrological significance, as well as the history of environmental activism and its water governance framework. The qualitative methods used to obtain this data included a literature review, in-depth interviews and a workshop with relevant stakeholders, as well as a document analysis of grey literature related to CBM. The main findings from the research project can be summarized as follows: 1.Water governance in Ontario involves multiple stakeholders. 2.CBM on the ORM takes the form of water quality and quantity, as well as policy monitoring. 3.Government agencies are involved in CBM initiatives, although it is not officially recognized. 4. CBM groups face many barriers which inhibit their ability to impact decision-making. 5.Participation in CBM is likely to increase in the future. 6.CBM programs in Nova Scotia and the ORM have some similarities and differences.