des cours deau
Un outil pour la gestion des lignes de partage des eaux
La classification des cours deau est un outil qui a été créé
pour aider les communautés à définir des niveaux de qualité deau et des buts
quant à la qualité de leau.
De plus, la classification des cours deau a été élaborée pour
aider les communautés à atteindre leurs buts par lentremise de la planification de
la mise à exécution et de la gestion des lignes de partage des
La classification des cours deau est comprise dans la Loi sur
lassainissement de leau. En termes simples, cette loi répartit les rivières
ou segments de rivières, les affluents et les lacs dans des catégories pour en faire la
gestion. Pour chacune de ces catégories, des normes spécifiques quant à la qualité de
leau sont établies, et ceci pour assurer que leau est utilisée sans abus.
A Tool for Managing Watersheds
New Brunswick Department of the Environment
of people work together for all sorts of reasons, sometimes to plan a community park,
sometimes to build a children's baseball team. The goal is usually improvement and the
consequence is often people working together to accomplish what individuals cannot do
(photo: N.B. Department of the Environment)
Watershed groups will also work with the
Water Classification Program to nominate and study candidates for the Outstanding Natural
The concept of the community working together toward a common goal is well illustrated by
a relatively new sector of community involvement, the watershed group. Watershed groups in
some form have been in existence ever since the first group of cottage owners around a
lake began to meet to plan a summer BBQ and the first group of anglers held meetings to
discuss improvements to trout habitat in their favorite fishing stream. As time has
passed, many of these groups have evolved, taking on more comprehensive mandates. New
groups have also formed, their primary purpose the protection of a particular river system
and the associated watershed. Presently, there are more than 50 organized watershed groups
in New Brunswick.
Watershed groups make use of various tools to help them work to maintain and improve
water quality. They often need funding to maintain a presence in the community and
undertake various watershed initiatives. They need specific educational and informational
resources to help them promote principles of clean water and good environmental practice.
They may be interested in monitoring water quality, in which case they may need help
training volunteers or doing lab analyses. They also need planning tools, to help them
work with others in the community to make good decisions and to prioritize management
activities. Through a continuing program of outreach and partnering, the Department of the
Environment has provided services in many of these areas, including planning.
Under the Clean Water Act, a tool has been developed to help communities not only plan
and set goals for water quality, but also to help them achieve their water quality goals
through action planning and watershed management. This tool is Water Classification.
Water Classification is an initiative under New Brunswick's Clean Water Act. Plainly
put, it places rivers or segments of rivers, tributaries and lakes into categories for
management. Each of these categories or classes has its own set of water quality
standards, designed to protect suitable uses of the water. The present design of the
system establishes six classes: an Outstanding Class for special natural lakes and rivers;
an AP (Potable) Class for municipal drinking water supplies; an AL Class for lakes; and A,
B, and C Classes for excellent, good and acceptable water quality, respectively.
The process of Classification involves three basic steps, followed by implementation.
The first step is measurement and interpretation of existing water quality; historical
information on water quality is also used to build a picture of how the water quality may
have changed in a watershed.
The second step is mapping of land cover and land use information. Understanding the
topography, geology, soils and vegetation cover in an area helps to explain water quality
characteristics; often ecological land classification can help to integrate the
interpretation of these features. Land use mapping helps to explain water quality changes
from the natural system, and shows where point sources and non-point sources of pollutants
The third step to Classification is involvement of stakeholders in informed decision
making. The various stakeholders who have an interest in a watershed and its water are
encouraged to work together to build consensus on water quality issues, in particular, the
setting of water quality goals. Stakeholders include landowners and those who come from
outside to use or enjoy the water. Stakeholders include various groups of land users:
farmers, foresters, industry (including those in the mining industry), anglers and
canoeists, residential and recreational users, and others. Stakeholders also include
various levels of government: provincial, municipal, federal and aboriginal. Each of these
groups has an interest in the water and, potentially, an influence on water quality.
By involving stakeholders early in the process of classification, everyone can
understand why the water quality is the way it is, and the consequences of maintenance,
protection or restoration. This includes the economic, social and environmental
consequences of decisions that are made and goals that are set.
(photo: N.B. Department of the Environment)
Water Classification is applied to watercourses in the whole
watershed: the mainstem (including the estuary), tributaries and lakes.
Once the classification of a particular river system is accomplished, an implementation
phase begins. One role of watershed groups will be to assist with action planning. An
action plan lists and prioritizes achievable activities that will help to protect or
restore a river system according to the goals set through Water Classification. Other
aspects of implementation will involve the design and promotion of voluntary Best
Management Practices. Regulatory tools will include the standards under the proposed Water
Classification Regulation, as well as the existing approvals and permitting system which
focuses on point sources and watercourse alterations.
Besides being a watershed management tool, Water Classification is also a watershed
management mechanism. The step-wise achievement of water quality objectives, accomplished
by first understanding the water and its watershed, and then involving stakeholders in
establishing a vision for the water quality, makes Water Classification a means whereby a
watershed group can be focused, empowered and made action-ready.
The involvement of various stakeholders in the process of Classification helps to build
stronger, more broadly based watershed management groups that will benefit from the
inclusion of new ideas and other points of view long after the classification exercise is
complete. Information and data about the watershed enable education and informed action;
Water Classification leaves a legacy of knowledge and concrete tools such as land use maps
and water quality data. Finally, the completion of the planning associated with
Classification results in an action plan which can be used in order to prioritize
activities and set objectives for maintenance or restoration initiatives, providing the
group with focus and direction into the future.
Water Classification is already a feature of watershed based activities in the
province. The Department of the Environment is presently working in various watersheds
with watershed groups towards land and water assessment and goal setting. Examples of this
partnership include the Eastern Charlotte Waterways ACAP group which has undertaken the
first steps of a Classification for the West Fundy Composite Watershed (Magaguadavic and
surrounding rivers). Towards the eventual goal of classification, they have monitored the
water quality, gathered existing data on water quality, mapped the watershed and its land
cover and uses, and begun the process of discussing a preliminary classification with
stakeholders throughout the watershed. They have also produced a Guidebook on Water
Classification, including six modules and a toolkit to take a watershed group step by step
through the process of classification and watershed management. The Hammond River Angling
Association has also begun to assemble the water quality data and land use information
required for Classification and to involve stakeholders in the process, and have
participated with the Department of the Environment in a volunteer monitoring program. The
Department has also begun to work toward classification with established watershed groups
in the Keswick River, the Nashwaak River, the Tabusintac River, the St. Croix River and
the Petitcodiac River watersheds.
As Water Classification moves through the province, watershed by watershed, groups like
these will provide the focal point for community involvement, collection of new
information and determination of public vision in the goal setting process. Wherever
possible, Water Classification will involve existing watershed groups in the process of
classification. Watershed groups will also be involved in the implementation of
Classification, through action planning and follow-up initiatives and activities.
Watershed groups will continue to provide community-level input to water quality and
water use management in New Brunswick. The Department of the Environment applauds the hard
work of these groups and the work they have done already towards the protection and
improvement of New Brunswick's lakes and rivers. With their continued help, and with the
help of all stakeholders, we look forward to working towards the Classification of the
province's river systems.
The Department of Environment is presently working on a Water Classification Regulation
to establish administrative procedures associated with Water Classification, to define the
Classes and to describe the associated water quality standards. As with other aspects of
Classification, stakeholder involvement is essential. As a part of this continuing
discussion, an Overview of the Regulation has been distributed for comment to watershed
groups throughout the province and to various groups representing stakeholders in
watershed management. If you would like to comment, please call or write to us.
Brunswick's Water Classification Program
de classification des eaux du N-B