The Petitcodiac River
The Petitcodiac River is the main stem of the watershed; it has a drainage area of over 2000 km². The Petitcodiac River, along with its numerous tributaries, runs through both rural and urban environments. Starting at the Village of Petitcodiac, the river runs through the Village of Salisbury, the Town of Riverview and to City of Moncton, and past the City of Dieppe and Village of Hillsborough, before emptying into the Shepody Bay. A variety of activities take place throughout the river’s watershed. These range from agricultural and forestry activities, residential and commercial developments, a causeway, sewage lagoons, and TransAqua (Greater Moncton’s wastewater treatment facility).
From the Village of Salisbury to its downstream confluence with the Bay of Fundy, the Petitcodiac River is brown in colour due to the high levels of clay and silt that form the bedrock through which the river flows. This colour has resulted in the Petitcodiac River’s nickname “Chocolate River.” Long sections of the Petitcodiac River have virtually no vegetated riparian areas to buffer the river from stormwater runoff and erosion. Many of the river’s tributaries are badly degraded as a result of urbanization and removal of riparian vegetation. Due to the level of development and resulting increases in impervious surface, the volume of stormwater runoff entering these tributaries is increasing. With all of these tributaries draining into the Petitcodiac River, their water quality is critical due to the additive effects multiple polluted tributaries have on their receiving river. In addition to the effect of urbanization in the Petitcodiac River watershed another area of concern lies with the wastewater treatment facility. Currently, TransAqua is the only wastewater treatment facility in the province of New Brunswick that has not been upgraded from primary treatment. In addition to primary treatment effluent being discharged into the river, many cross connections still exist in Moncton’s aging conveyance infrastructure, which discharge the contents of sanitary sewer pipes into Moncton’s urban waterways. Fortunately, the Government of Canada has issued a regulation that all wastewater treatment facilities must use, at minimum, secondary treatment by 2020. At this time TransAqua hopes to use both bacterial and ultra-violet treatment of Greater Moncton’s wastewater.
The Petitcodiac River formerly had a causeway which formed Lake Petitcodiac on its Western side. It was an obstruction to natural fish passage to nearly half (1,340 km2) of the river system for 40 years. The Petitcodiac causeway is also responsible for the buildup of massive silt deposits downstream from the structure, reducing the width of the Petitcodiac River from an average of one kilometer in 1968 to approximately 150 metres currently in Moncton. The Petitcodiac causeway continues to be responsible for ongoing massive deposits of silt reaching as far as 35 kilometres downstream to Shepody Bay and 21 kilometres upstream to Salisbury. The Petitcodiac River has been undergoing large-scale changes since the permanent opening of the causeway gates in April, 2010. The river’s hydrodynamics, morphology, and rich aquatic ecosystem have been returning to a more natural state as the river and its tidal bore are now able to travel several kilometers upstream of the causeway, where its passage was completely obstructed for over 40 years. Fish are now able to access habitat upstream of the causeway and fish monitoring since the opening of the gates has confirmed the return of a number of fish species that were once extirpated from the Petitcodiac River as a result of this migration barrier.
The Latest PWA Water Quality Data for the Petitcodiac River
Last sampled: June 15, 2016
Parameter 16-Jun-16 15-May-16 15-Oct-15 15-Sep-15 15-Aug-15 15-Jul-15 15-Jun-15 E.coli (MPN/100ml) 547.5 44.3 >200.5 >200.5 >200.5 >200.5 >200.5 Total Coliforms (MPN/100ml) >2419.6 >2419.6 >200.5 >200.5 >200.5 >200.5 >200.5 Dissolved Oxygen (mg/L) 9.74 11.13 13.18 8.6 6.57 8.18 8.8 Temperature (°C) 11.1 10.1 4.7 16.8 26.3 20.8 16.4 pH 7.88 7.09 7.6 7.7 7.96 7.66 7.61 Specific Conductivity (uS/cm) 109.6 125.1 186.2 251 331 187.7 141.1 Nitrates (mg/L) 0.231 0.136 0.136 0.063 0.127 0.171 0.215 Phosphates (mg/L) 0.06 0.07 0.38 0.02 0.08 0.11 0.05 Salinity (ppt) 0.05 0.06 0.09 0.08 0.16 0.09 0.07 Total Dissolved Solids (mg/L) 71.5 81.25 120.9 128.3 215.15 122.2 91.65