The Dorset monitoring programs focus on headwater lakes and streams located in south-central Ontario felt to be representative of the tens of thousands of small sensitive lakes and streams on the Canadian Shield. The monitoring of water quality and quantity, and phytoplankton and zooplankton communities began in the mid 1970's. Bio-monitoring activities have expanded since to include both benthic invertebrates and crayfish.
Partnerships in data collection and analysis include researchers from a number of government agencies, non-government organizations, and universities. Data are used to identify long-term trends in lake and stream health with respect to recovery from acid deposition, mercury impacts, change in nutrient status, the impacts of climate change, and introduced species.
The Lake Partner Program is a volunteer-based program that provides nutrient (total phosphorus) and water clarity information for Ontario’s inland lakes. More than 600 lakes are monitored annually by volunteers. The program began in 1996 in partnership with the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations and the Lake of the Woods District Property Owners’ Association. The program grew out of the Self Help program which had been collecting chlorophyll and water clarity information since the early 1970s. A Lake Partner summary report with the associated data is published annually on the Lake Partner web page in order to share information on the nutrient status and water clarity of Ontario lakes.
The Ontario Benthos Biomonitoring Network (OBBN) measures aquatic ecosystem condition in lakes, streams and wetlands using bottom-dwelling aquatic invertebrates as indicators. The program was initiated in 2003. Since that time, many hundreds of stream and lake sites have been sampled. The Network includes a Protocol Manual of standardized sampling methods, a program of training and certification for its members, and a centralized database for storing, retrieving, and sharing data.