World Water Monitoring Challenge

Water Monitoring Volunteers

The World Water Monitoring Challenge is an International program developed to engage with nations and their communities about water awareness, and encourage them to participate in taking local water quality samples. Just over sixty-five countries participated in this international program during 2012, sampling over 250, 000 individual water bodies. This year, Niagara College registered several sites on campus, engaged 47 students in two different programs with a total of 175 hours collectively in the field!

Testing Parameters

While in the field, Sustainability Ambassadors record chemical parameters such as pH, temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, conductivity as well as physical parameters to see if there is any connection between the two. The physical parameters include: the surrounding land uses, the source water, what vegetation is around the water body, what the water looks like (polluted, foamy, oil etc.), whether insects or other wildlife are present, whether the water is deep or shallow, narrow or wide, whether the banks are stabilized or eroding, and whether there are large rocks or logs present.

Specifically in the Niagara Region, there are many water bodies, large and small, national and International that are affected by our practices. Learn more about how Ontario protects and monitors water from the Ministry of the Environment’s Water site.

Learn more about local source water protection in the Niagara Region. A watershed map of the Niagara Region can also be found on this website.

Why is water monitoring important?

Water is absolutely necessary for any living organism to survive, and while water covers 70 percent of the globe, there are many issues that we are facing in the present and into the future. There is approximately 1.4 billion kmof water on the earth. This amount of water is enough to fill about 175,000,000,000,000,000 bathtubs!  Despite this large amount, 97.5 percent of the world’s water is salt water, and 2.5 percent is fresh water. The total amount of fresh water is 35 million km3, or 35 000 000 000 000 full bathtubs.

To further detail the available freshwater, only about 2000 km3 is available from flowing rivers, which is less than 0.01 percent of freshwater that we can actually see. Freshwater lakes and marsh habitats hold about 100 000 km3 of freshwater, while groundwater and soil moisture hold 10.7 million km3. The largest source of freshwater is frozen and not readily usable in the forms of glacial ice, permafrost or permanent snow, representing 24.4 million km3.

With only five percent of the global population, Canada is fortunate enough to have seven percent of the global freshwater available to readily use. Canadians place changing demands on water availability for our homes, businesses and other dwellings that stress our water resources. Canada is a country that hosts high per capita users of water. Human population growth, urbanization, agricultural, industrial and commercial activities, recreational uses of water, and natural phenomenon have all contributed to water quality changes and water pollution.

This program encourages the areas with fresh water to act responsibly, in a shared way to use water wisely, and protect the quality of water. The data that is collected can connect us to local issues that we are able to address to the global issues of water quality. Having an avenue for open, transparent access to water quality data can stimulate more educational and awareness programs. As well, access to this information can increase understanding as to why participating in improving water quality is important. Expanding the efforts to protect our waters from point and non-point sources can reduce unanticipated discharges, runoff events, and other pollution events. Proactive protection of our water is extremely important for our communities and the environment.

Source: Environment Canada