Souris River Watershed

Located in eastern Kings County in Prince Edward Island (PEI), the Souris River Watershed encompasses 59 square kilometres and drains into Colville Bay (see map below). The Souris River WEBs project focuses on a 500-hectare sub-basin in the northern section of the watershed and also includes Norris Pond, a small adjacent watershed. See map.

Average annual precipitation in PEI is about 1,100 millimetres, with about 25 percent of this falling as snow. The dominant soil type is the Charlottetown soil series, which is a well-drained, fine sandy loam. Land use within the Souris River Watershed is approximately 40 percent agricultural and 46 percent forested. The primary production crop is potatoes, which under provincial legislation must be part of a three-year rotation, alternating with grain and forage. The region supports a thriving fishing and shellfish industry.

Intensive crop production within the Souris River Watershed may be impacting the health of both the watershed and the local marine environment. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus in runoff from agricultural fields has been attributed to the contamination of surface water and groundwater, affecting public recreational use, aquaculture, and other local industries. At a provincial level, agricultural practices have been perceived to be a factor in environmental problems such as: eutrophication and anoxic fish kill events, pesticide-related fish kills, bacterial contamination and shellfish closures, soil erosion, and other land-use issues.

The Souris River Watershed Management Committee is a community-based organization associated with the Souris & Area Branch of the PEI Wildlife Federation. This group works with the agricultural community to engage in environmental stewardship in the watershed. Together with federal and provincial governments and academic researchers, the Souris River WEBs project investigated the environmental and economic impacts resulting from the implementation of regionally-appropriate BMPs.

One BMP – an investigation into the effects of spring versus fall ploughing - was studied within the Souris River Watershed.

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