Water Classification Program

"Water is one of New Brunswick's most important resources. We drink and bathe in it. We use it for agricultural, commerical and industrial purposes. We spend our leisure time around water when angling, camping, canoeing and swimming. As well, New Brunswick's plants and animals rely on water for their survival, using it as habitat and refuge.

In order for New Brunswick's existing surface and groundwater resources to supply us with abundant clean water for the foreseeable future, they need to be protected and managed with care.

The Water Classification Regulation is a regulation under the Clean Water Act. The purpose of water classification is to set goals for water quality and promote management of water on a watershed basis. The Water Classification Regulation establishes the water quality classes, and the associated water quality standards, and outlines the administrative processes and requirements related to the classification of water.

Water classification places the water of lakes and rivers or segments of river into categories or classes based on water quality goals. Each class is then managed according to the goal. The goals associated with a specific class are set according to the intended uses of the water, and the water quality and quantity required to protect the intended uses."

Miramichi River Undergoing Water Classification

MREAC has established a partnership with the NB Department of Environment to carry out the New Brunswick Water Classification Program for the Miramichi River. It is our intent to complete this project in ten years, 2008-2018. This first step of the project, was to create a Strategic Plan outlining the process for the next ten years of the project. While this was being carried out, information and data will be exchanged between MREAC and DENV. Also a pilot project was conducted targeting the Renous River sub-watershed.

For the purpose of this project, the Miramichi River has been divided into three sections and each section will be given two years to complete the necessary tasks. These sections are: Southwest Miramichi, Miramichi Estuary Drainage area and Northwest Miramichi. During each year, MREAC will undergo capacity building and environmental monitoring for the designated section, which includes water quality analysis, benthos and land use data collection. Stakeholders will be encouraged to participate with the project. Their input will be most valuable when recommending designated classes for the watercourses.

The final step of this project, which will be completed in the final two years (2016-2018), will be the analysis of the data collected and the establishing of water class categories for the watercourses. A water classification template will be created and reviewed by the stakeholders. After public scrutiny, a final template will be created and presented to the Minister of Environment for approval.

(Excerpt obtained from "Understanding the Law: A Guide to New Brunswick's Water Classification Regulation" by the Government of New Brunswick Department of Environment).

 

The Classes:

  • O - Outstanding
  • AP - Designated Drinking Water Supplies
  • AL - Lakes not Classified as O or AP
  • A - Excellent Water Quality
  • B - Good Water Quality
  • C - Acceptable Water Quality

The Steps:

  • Identify and involve stakeholders
  • Gather water quality information
  • Assemble land and water use information
  • Set goals for water quality
  • Prepare and implement action plans

Southwest Miramichi Section

The Southwest Miramichi River and its tributaries was the first focus area for Water Classification. Capacity building with stakeholders and community members either through community meetings or direct contact, will take place in order to encourage the public to become involved in the process and give their input.

In 2010, water quality and benthic data was collected during the summer months. Water quality data was collected at 14 sites. Nine of the sites were collected by MREAC staff and five of the headwater sites were collected by JD Irving. General chemistry and bacteria were tested at the NB DENV Laboratory. The water quality data was then used in the Water Quality Index calculation and the results are reflected in the map below. Also, in September, benthic data was collected at five of the sites. All of this data will help set a present standard for the water quality in the area in which to build on when setting the water classes.

Miramichi Estuary Drainage Section

The estuary drainage section of the Miramichi watershed was the focus for the 2011 field season. This area includes the Bartibog River, Bay du Vin River, Black River, Burnt Church River, McKnights Brook, Napan River, Oyster River, and Riviere des Caches sub-drainage basins.

Water quality monitoring, water sampling, and benthic macroinvertebrate collections were performed at predetermined locations and at a selected interval throughout the 2011 field season. The analytical results obtained from DENV’s laboratory were then compared with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s (CCME) Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life where a Water Quality Index (WQI) category was established for each of the sampling locations. The Health Canada’s (HC) Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality were also used for comparison purposes.

Northwest Miramichi Section

The Northwest section of the Miramichi watershed was the focus for the 2012 field season. This area includes the North Pole Stream, Little Southwest Miramichi River, Northwest Miramichi River, Tomogonops River, Northwest Millstream, Big Sevogle River, Mullin Stream, and Little Sevogle River sub-drainage basins.

Water quality monitoring, water sampling, and benthic macroinvertebrate collection was performed at predetermined locations and at selected intervals throughout the 2012 field season. The analytical results that were obtained from DELG’s laboratory were then compared with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment’s (CCME) Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life where a Water Quality Index (WQI) category was established for each of the sampling locations. The Health Canada’s (HC) Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality was also used for comparative purposes.