The Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) measures freshwater ecosystem health with standardized methods, database, activities map, and training. Changes in biological communities provide a picture of aquatic health and are used in other provincial subwatersheds and across Canada for assessment and watershed reporting. In late September-early October, the RDRWA sampled a total of eleven sites using CABIN techniques to help participate in the development of the CABIN Eastern Slopes Model and assess ambient aquatic ecosystem health in some key Red Deer River tributaries and mainstem river locations for our upcoming State of the Watershed Report.
The RDRWA partnered with a multistakeholder team including the Oldman Watershed Council (OWC), Living Lakes Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Parks Canada, other Watershed Planning Advisory Councils (WPACs), and Environmental Non-Government Organizations (ENGOs) to work on an Eastern Slopes CABIN model. RDRWA identified and sampled four sites using CABIN sampling techniques in the Red Deer River headwaters to contribute data to the Eastern Slopes Model development project. This model development is supported by the Alberta Ecotrust Foundation and in-kind partner contributions.
Ongoing pressures that increase contaminants in our headwaters require quantification and assessment to discern natural (e.g., climate) from local anthropogenic activities (e.g., forestry, OHV, mining) and help set targets and priorities for watershed management. The model creation will also encourage further CABIN monitoring within the basin by our stakeholders and lead to an increased understanding of watershed health conditions, enhancing our ability to measure and manage cumulative effects. This model will allow for the quantification of scientific information in a regional context and aligns with and expedites interpretation for State of the Watershed Assessment and Reporting. RDRWA sampled an additional seven sites that are part of the Alberta Environment and Protected Areas Tributary Monitoring Network, and one mainstem Red Deer River site upstream of the City of Red Deer. The results will be utilized in RDRWA’s State of the Watershed update report. These projects directly support our Watershed Planning Advisory Council’s Mandate and Roles work to assess and evaluate ecosystem health for biodiversity and source water protection goals.
RDRWA received funds from both the City of Red Deer through the Environmental Initiatives Grant and Alberta Environment and Protected Areas to support a local aquatic health community biomonitoring pilot project and a regional Red Deer River tributary aquatic ecosystem health assessment pilot and inventory project, respectively. Both projects helped support the training, and purchasing of equipment, and encourage future community-based monitoring initiatives at the local and regional scale to measure aquatic ecosystem health.