Black Brook Watershed

The 1,450-hectare Black Brook Watershed is located within the greater (380-square-kilometre) Little River Watershed, north of Grand Falls, in northwestern New Brunswick. See map.

The watershed is located within the province's potato-growing region which is prone to some of the most serious water erosion in Canada. Eroded soils in this area contribute excessive amounts of sediment and nutrients to surface waters. Landscapes in the Black Brook Watershed are dominated by soils that have developed on coarse to fine-textured dense, compact glacial till. The topography is rolling with slopes generally ranging from two to nine per cent, but with some slope segments in excess of 15 per cent.

Agricultural land constitutes approximately 65 per cent of the land base, with the remainder either forested or under urban and residential development. The major crop is potato in rotation with grain, peas and hay for forage. Half the agricultural land is annually under potato production. Average precipitation is 1,134 millimetres, of which slightly more than one-quarter falls as snow.

The Black Brook Watershed was established as an experimental watershed in 1990. Since that time, researchers have been investigating the impacts of intensive potato production on surface water quality, thus providing the existing WEBs study with a wealth of pre-BMP benchmark data for comparison. The physical resources of the watershed have been characterized in detail, including information on soils, topography, climate, land use, and surface water flow and quality. An existing network of permanent gauging and sampling stations allows for continuous monitoring of stream discharge and water quality in the sub-basins and outlet of the Black Brook Watershed.

Under WEBs the impact of agriculture on water yield and quality was monitored in nine sub-basins with varying intensities of agricultural land use.

Two BMPs were studied within the Black Brook Watershed as follows:

  • Diversion terraces and grassed waterways
  • Vegetated riparian zones

The Diversion Terraces and Grassed Waterways in Hilly Potato Land fact sheet discusses methods and findings from the study of this BMP.

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