Water Quality

Preserving the integrity of our marine environment

What is water quality?

Water quality is defined in terms of the chemical, physical, and biological properties of water. Water quality can be affected in many ways, often by nature’s own processes, but also by human activities occurring in and adjacent to it.

PRPA’s Marine Environmental Water Quality (MEWQ) program provides an understanding of the state of the water in the Prince Rupert harbour and surrounding area. By knowing the condition of the water and the processes and activities that affect it today, PRPA can make effective management decisions to ensure the integrity of this critical resource now and into the future.

How is water quality measured?

PRPA and its MEWQ program partners measure water quality in multiple ways, both in real-time and via monthly and quarterly sampling.

Quarterly water sampling involves collection and analysis of discrete samples collected at as many as 23 sites throughout the Prince Rupert harbour and surrounding area. These samples are analyzed for parameters including turbidity and total suspended solids, nutrients, metals, phytoplankton abundance, bacteria, and hydrocarbons. At the same time, in-situ measurements are taken of other common parameters such as dissolved oxygen, temperature, and salinity.

More frequent monthly in-situ monitoring is performed to enhance understanding of the natural oceanographic processes in the Prince Rupert region and their potential impact on water quality.

In addition, water quality is measured real-time at two installations—Digby Island and Atlin Terminal—managed by Ocean Networks Canada.

How are water quality measurements interpreted?

For reporting purposes, water quality results are compared to standards developed by both the federal and provincial government, referenced below. PRPA also utilizes the CCME Water Quality Index to categorize annual results for each site as ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘fair’, ‘marginal’, or ‘poor’.