ERCA Uses 3D Modeling to Target Water Quality

The Essex Region Conservation Authority has created a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) to aid in targeting water quality issues. “A DEM is actually a 3D representation of the earth’s surface,” explained Richard Wyma, ERCA’s General Manager. “Much like a photograph, it is made up of pixels.”  In photos, each pixel represents a colour value, in the DEM, each pixel represents an elevation value.

As part of a project funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), ERCA has generated DEM surfaces for the Canard River, which is located within the Detroit River watershed, Cedar Creek, and Ruscom River. “The goal of the project is to use DEMs to find areas prone to erosion within agricultural fields, right from our desktops,” Wyma goes on to say. “This is an efficient way to help us target on-the-ground projects.”

In the coming months, ERCA will be hosting a public session so that the community has a better understanding of how the DEM works and its potential benefits. “Farmers in particular can benefit from this information as it can help to identify sources of erosion in their farm field,” adds Kevin Money, ERCA’s Director of Conservation Services. “Erosion negatively impacts soil health and water quality.  This initiative will help identify sources of erosion and then our staff can help landowners access funds through the Clean Water~Green Spaces grant program to make the improvements needed to keep soil in the fields and out of watercourses, ultimately benefiting agricultural productivity and water quality.”

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