Water conservation and stormwater management
The Shediac Bay Watershed has started a new 2-year program, promoting the preservation of our precious drinking water, and the management of an increasingly larger volume of rain water and snowmelt ruoff. The source of municipal drinking water in the town of Shediac is the underground water table. Underground aquifers are dependent on the infiltration of precipitations to remain exploitable. Therefore, in periods of drought, water conservation is of utmost importance.
Water conservation kits
In an effort to reduce water use at home, 100 free water conservation kits were distributed to residents of the watershed. The following items are included in the kit: a 3 litre toilet tank bank; two faucet aerators for the kitchen and bathroom sink; one leak detection tablet for the toilet reservoir; one basic 5-minute shower timer (hourglass type); and a pamphlet on the importance of water and its conservation.
Surface water runoff
Higher than normal precipitations have already been observed in New Brunswick as a consequence of climate change. Current issues are linked to the rate at which these precipitations are delivered to our soil, considering the increased frequency of heavy yet brief downpours, and fast melts of enormous amounts of snow. These two factors result in low infiltration of water in the underground aquifers and high rates of surface runoff. Surface runoff is a major vehicle for any and all pollutants present on natural and man-made surfaces, and carries those pollutants directly into the waterways that flow to the bay.
Rain barrels are an excellent way to avoid flash flooding in areas with large impermeable surfaces like rooftops. Water from rain barrels can also be used for watering plants during dry periods, therefore conserving drinking water.
To reduce the impact of runoff in the watershed, the Watershed Association distributed 100 rain barrels to residents living in communities around Shediac Bay. These rain barrels are placed under the gutter’s downspout to collect rain water from the roof. The collected water can be used for other domestic uses.
A rain garden is a shallow landscape depression that is specifically designed to collect, soak up and filter rain and snowmelt runoff. Planted with deep-rooted grasses, flowers and shrubs that tolerate wet and dry conditions, it requires very little maintenance.
The Watershed Association, in partnership with the Municipality of Shediac, built a rain garden to capture runoff. The model garden also serves as a demonstration on the operation of stormwater catchment, while providing an overview of the construction and landscaping methods for this type of garden. It’s located near the dog park and the Vestiaire St. Joseph, at 60 rue du Vestiare in Shediac. An interpretation panel has been installed nearby.
Brook Floater Mussel
The Brook Floater (Alasmidonta varicosa) is a medium-sized freshwater mussel that has been found in scattered regions of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and certain regions of the East Coast of the USA. In 2009, it was given the status of Special Concern by COSEWIC when the species disappeared from approximately half its known locations in the USA, leaving Canadian populations to represent the majority of the remaining global populations of the Brook Floater. In 2013, it was added to the Species at Risk Act, Schedule 1 (SARA). The presence of a total of 122 Brook Floaters was reported throughout the Shediac and Scoudouc Rivers during freshwater mussel surveys in 2005.
In 2014, the Shediac Bay Watershed Association began a project, setting the following objectives:
- reconfirm the presence of the Brook Floater in the watershed
- assess the health of the surrounding habitat
- work with landowners to create a protection plan for its habitat
Surveys were done during the summers of 2014 and 2015, in the same locations as in 2005. In addition, some sites were extended and new sites were added. The rare mussel was not found, so the project was renewed in order to continue the search during the summer of 2016.
The surveys in 2016 still haven’t confirmed the presence of Brook floater mussels. The latest report gives détails on the work done over the summer and a summary of the three field season. The report Identifying Habitat for the Brook Floater Mussel is found in the archives.
Salmon and trout restoration and education
The Shediac Bay Watershed Association works with different partners to improve fish habitat. Our focus is mainly on Atlantic Salmon and Brook Trout as these species require good water quality to thrive.
Fish Habitat Restoration
A major initiative of the SBWA is the restoration of degraded streams to improve fish and aquatic life habitat. In the summer of 2014, the field team worked hard to clear wood debris that were causing fish passage issues. By removing these natural barriers, we help open up new breeding grounds for migrating fish such as Atlantic salmon and trout.
The team planted trees on damaged riverbanks and in erosion prone areas. The roots of these trees will help stabilize the riverbanks, and will grow to provide shade from its canopy. Shade is a very important factor for fish habitat, as it helps keep water temperature at lower levels during hot summer months.
Funding partners for this project: Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program (DFO RFCPP), NB Wildlife Trust Fund, and NB Environmental Trust Fund.
The SBWA installed a 10-foot aluminum fish ladder on an older elevated culvert in McQuade Brook, a major tributary to the Shediac River. The culvert was identified as an impediment to fish migration towards suitable spawning areas upstream of the bridge.
Atlantic salmon and brook trout have traditionally used this stream during spring and fall migrations, but fish numbers have dropped considerately in the last 40-50 years.
There are numerous fish ladders in New Brunswick, mostly wood and cement structures. This novel structure is the only one in the southeast region with this heavy-duty aluminum design.
The fish ladder was made and installed with funding from the Department of Fisheries and Ocean, the NB Department of Environment and Local Government, the Wildlife Trust Fund and the Atlantic Salmon Conservation Foundation. We also received significant in-kind support from Tri Province Enterprises, Paul’s Welding, and Ryder Truck Rental.
Another important part of our stream restoration work is electrofishing surveys to determine fish populations in our watershed. We found brook trout and Atlantic salmon parr in the Shediac River, and will continue studying the populations to eventually determine a proper salmonid restocking plan.
These surveys were accomplished in partnership with “Friends of the Kouchibouguacis” watershed group from Saint-Louis-de-Kent.
Funding partners for this project: Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the NB Wildlife Trust Fund and the NB Environmental Trust Fund.
Fish Friends Education Program
Fish Friends is an education program aimed at local fish populations and conservation for elementary grades managed by The Atlantic Salmon Federation and Shediac Bay Watershed Association. It provides a fun program on Atlantic salmon and Brook trout and includes an extensive curriculum guide for teachers.
Students observe and care for young Brook trout hatched from eggs and grown to fry right in the classroom before being released into our rivers. Fish Friends includes classroom activities, instructions for incubation and related activities. Each class is provided with a large aquarium and accessories, filter, cooling unit and fertilized fish eggs.
The Miramichi Salmon Conservation Centre provides eggs to schools. Students, parents, volunteers and teachers can make a field trip to release the young fish in our rivers in Shediac and Scoudouc at the end of the program.
Green Crab Monitoring
The European green crab Carcinus maenas is considered an aggressively invasive alien species in most of the regions it inhabits. This specie has spread across the globe by hitching rides on the hulls of ships and possibly as larvae in ballast water, and is now found on every continent except for Antarctica. This invasive green crab is possibly putting local lobster, clams, mussel, and oyster industries at risk. In the search for food, green crab has been documented to destroy eel grass beds. Destruction of this important habitat will have detrimental effects on the health of the Bay, as it has in other locations.
In 2011, the first of the invasive green crabs first appeared in the Shediac Bay. They had already become prolific in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. In 2012, Community Aquatic Monitoring Program (CAMP) surveys conducted by Fisheries and Oceans Canada saw an exponential increase in the numbers of crabs collected in the Shediac Bay area. It was after this significant increase that SBWA decided that a more extensive survey would be beneficial to understand how extensive the green crab population had become. Phase I (2013) consisted of an initial survey to determine their density and distribution in the Bay. Phase II (2014) was repeated the sampling regime to determine any population structure changes, and numbers were observed to have increased exponentially. In 2015, numbers were down significantly, but did show signs of rebounding in September (2015).
Funding was acquired from the NB Wildlife Trust Fund (NBWTF) in 2015 to continue this important monitoring study.
Eelgrass is an important component of the ecosystem of the Bay of Shediac. It serves as shelter and food for a wide variety of fishes, crustaceans and shellfish. In addition, this marine plant helps filter the water column and stabilize sediment, thereby creating a buffer zone between land and water.
In 2016, the Shediac Bay Watershed Association has established an eelgrass monitoring area near the mouth of the Scoudouc River. We will be using protocols established by SeagrassNet and joining a worldwide study. SeagrassNet is an ecological monitoring program that investigates and documents the status of seagrass resources and the threats to this important and imperiled marine ecosystem. The program started in 2001 in the Western Pacific and now includes more than 126 sites in 33 countries, with a global monitoring protocol and web-based data reporting systems.
The study area in the Bay of Shediac will help determine if there are changes in the eelgrass bed in the long term.
The project is coordinated by the Southern Gulf of Saint Lawrence Coalition on Sustainability.
In 2014, the Shediac Bay Watershed Association received funds from Environment Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund to install an experimental floating platform in the hope that terns would use it for nesting. The platform was equipped with tern decoys, protective wooden shelters and a sound device imitating tern colony calls to attract the birds to the site. This project was successful as one couple made a nest and had three chicks. The presence of the chicks attracted a group of terns to the platform who did their part in protecting them.
The successful 2014 project got increased funding from the Environmental Damages Fund and new funding from the New Brunswick Wildlife Trust Fund. In May of 2015, the Shediac Bay Yacht Club donated four large floating docks. The Association attached the platforms to the first experimental platform, complete with decoys, more protective tents, and accompanying vocal tern caller. It worked! Since then, more than a hundred common terns are establishing a colony on the floating platform every year. The platform can be seen in the cove at the entrance of Pointe-du-Chêne, near to the walking trail.
Tree Planting With the Town of Shediac for Biodiversity
In 2014 and 2015, the SBWA formed a partnership with the Town of Shediac for a native tree planting project, funded by Environment Canada’s EcoAction Community Funding Program. In a two-year period, 641 trees and shrubs native to our region have been planted in the Town of Shediac trails and parks.
Multiple community activities have been organized to bring the community together in helping us achieve our goal, a tree-planting activity with MFB School in the schoolyard, two activities with volunteers at Ohio Road and a TD Tree Days event at the baseball field. We planted trees in seven parks and trails of around the Town of Shediac.