Souris River Watershed Wetland Inventory and Change Detection: Estimating the effects of wetland distribution and loss on water quality in a large prairie watershed.
Scope of Study
For this project we are working in the Souris River watershed. This is a large (61,100 km2), watershed of the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR). The Souris River originates in Saskatchewan, passes through North Dakota, and then crosses into Manitoba before joining the Assiniboine River. It is a hyper-eutrophic (high biological productivity) prairie watershed that has experienced dramatic increases in nutrient concentrations and is an important source of nutrients to the Assiniboine River and Lake Winnipeg. Within the Souris River watershed we will focus on 9 sub-watersheds: three in Saskatchewan, (Antler River, Lightning Creek, and Pipestone Creek),three in North Dakota (Des Lacs River, Willow Creek, and Wintering River), and three in Manitoba (Elgin Creek, Graham Creek, and Medora Creek) spanning gradients of wetland cover and wetland drainage.
The mapping and field components of this project will take place from 2014-2018. Analyses and writing are expected to be completed in 2019.
Goals & Purpose
The impact of agricultural drainage and resulting non-point source nutrient export on water quality is a growing concern across the entire PPR. In Canada, the three Prairie Provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan) are currently revising and reviewing surface water management strategies. They have recognized the need for wetland restoration and conservation to help maintain and restore water quality, and sustain watershed health. However, unlike the US portion of the PPR, there is no complete wetland inventory for the Canadian portion. As a result it is not currently possible to target wetland conservation and restoration efforts to maximize water quality benefits. This project will complete and harmonize the wetland inventory for the entire Souris River watershed and examine the link between current and historical wetland distribution and water quality.