Partnership Stories: Seguin Township

A researcher taking a water sample next to a lake.

Residents and cottagers in Seguin Township may have come across Biosphere and Seguin Township staff wading into area lakes, or set up on shore, searching white basins for tiny critters. Since 2020, Seguin has partnered with GBB to coordinate and conduct annual benthic monitoring on 10 lakes within the township.

Benthic monitoring involves the collection and identification of benthic macroinvertebrates – bugs that live at the bottom of the lake. These small aquatic organisms (including insects, crustaceans, worms, and mollusks) spend most or all of their lives (1-3 years) in constant contact with lake sediments and the water in a specific area. As a result, their presence and abundance in an area provide valuable information about water quality, particularly when results are considered over several years. Long-term monitoring is useful to identify potential changes in the makeup of the benthic community over time, which could be a result of warming water temperatures, the introduction of invasive species, and/or a shift in water quality.

In 2019, Seguin residents requested that staff and Council consider initiating a benthic monitoring program to complement the township’s existing water quality monitoring focused on water chemistry (e.g. total phosphorus and dissolved organic carbon). The resulting benthic monitoring program created by Seguin Township, in partnership with the Biosphere, aims to determine the ecological condition of 10 lakes, monitor them over time, and compare them to similar lakes in the Parry Sound-Muskoka District.

“Our partnership with Georgian Bay Biosphere is incredibly important to us at Seguin Township” says Dominique O’Brien, Director of Community Services, “GBB inspires us to continue to take action for the environment and the partnership allows us to explore and incorporate new and valuable testing methods into our water quality program”.

Facilitating monitoring and research at both the local and regional level is an important role of UNESCO biospheres. With staff certified through the Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network, GBB is able to support ratepayer associations and area townships, like Seguin Township, with benthic monitoring and reporting. This information is not only useful for individual lakes, it also allows for regional comparisons with other area lakes similarly undertaking benthic monitoring.