Submitted by Chris Hiebert, North Kootenay Lake Water Monitoring Project
The North Kootenay Lake Water Monitoring Project (NKLWMP) is working to improve understanding and prediction of how small- and medium-sized watersheds are going to behave in a changing climate, especially in conditions of extreme high and low precipitation.
The project has established seven hydrometric stations, two high-elevation climate stations, one low-elevation climate station and two high-elevation snow course sites on the North end of Kootenay Lake. Stations are monitored and maintained by a combination of professional and citizen scientists. By focusing on the monitoring of streamflow and related climate variables, the results from NKLWMP will provide key data for making a range of critical conservation decisions, especially with respect to climate change.
The NKLWMP recently partnered with Living Lakes Canada and is excited to be working with LLC to foster a deeper understanding of water, climate change and healthy communities in the West Kootenays. The project has recently been working on orientating new volunteers and repairing, maintaining, and winterizing hydrometric and climate stations.
NKLWMP also presented at the Friends of Kootenay Lake Summit in Kaslo. We are now gearing up for the 2019 snow course measurements at our two high elevation stations and are working on the preparation of the first NKLWMP report, which will be available soon!
To learn more about the NKLWMP, or to become involved as a volunteer, please contact us at email@example.com.
On November 27 and 28, 2018 Living Lakes Canada in partnership with The Gordon Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund-Canada co-hosted a Roundtable gathering in Ottawa, ON. The goal of the Roundtable was to bring together Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members, academia, all levels of government, First Nations and industry that are involved or interested in community-based water monitoring (CBWN). The group was invited to take part in discussing recommendations and opportunities for elevating the profile and potential support for CBWN with the federal government.
CBWN is building momentum across Canada. A recent National scan conducted by LLC, SFU and U of Acadia, showed that CBWM has grown 3-fold within 10 years (see a summary of the report’s highlights here).
Citizens, scientists, academia, government and Indigenous communities are collaborating to build local water monitoring programs with a goal to understand the state of local watersheds. CBWN is a powerful way to achieve effective water management and stewardship practices that are tailored for local conditions and capable of keeping pace with rapid environmental change.
The growth of CWBN programs across Canada presents an opportunity for the Government of Canada to simultaneously advance a number of its core priorities. There are already significant investments across Canada including programming led by Environment and Climate Change Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. To make the most of these investments, efforts are needed to ensure programming across departments is well-coordinated, and effectively address community water stewardship needs.
Participants of the Roundtable gathered to review, edit and revamp the draft recommendations for the Government of Canada. Examples of successful CBWN were presented from government, Indigenous, academia and community-led initiatives and projects across Canada.
Host organizers of the event will be reviewing and gathering the input provided to create the final recommendations to be put forward to the Government of Canada.
On November 20, 2019 in Cranbrook, B.C., Living Lakes Canada hosted an inaugural in-person Steering Committee meeting. Over 20 people attended this full-day meeting to brainstorm and share content from their expert backgrounds to help develop the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework and Data Hub Initiative.
The next steps will be pulling together the important information gathered at this meeting to develop the first draft of the Framework Initiative.
This initiative will coordinate a collaborative, systemic guiding framework for addressing water monitoring data collection and data storage needs in the Canadian Columbia Basin. With the participation of all levels of government, including First Nations, this initiative will build upon the backbone of water monitoring data from Federal and Provincial governments. It will address identified priority water data gaps and help to prioritize the expansion of water monitoring in the Basin, including support for community-based monitoring.
This initiative will also create a cost effective open-sourced data hub that is an accessible way to store and share local, traditional, and scientific water data. This will include communication considerations, such developing analysis tools needed for interpretation so that the water data can be used effectively by decision makers, academia, and interested public.
The guiding framework will support efforts necessary for watershed stewardship through engagement, education, capacity and partnership-building. This will include providing training, mentoring, and technical support as needed. It will also work as a central funding hub to coordinate grants from various sources and distribute them to water monitoring groups and researchers who may not have the capacity to do this fundraising themselves.
The outcome is for more informed collective decision-making in efforts towards increased ecosystem resiliency and community resiliency in the face of a changing climate and development pressures.
Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the IPCC said in a new report. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday (October 8, 2018).
The report’s full name is Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.
“The way we are fighting climate change now suggests that we are in for dire times with both water quality and water quantity in Canada as well. People still seem to think that we will be better off than the USA, but in fact most of Canada’s water is in the north while most of the people live in the south,” says LLC advisor Dr. David Schindler.
The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C, or more. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2°C.
In 2017, members of the BC Water Funders Collaborative’s Working Group on Water Monitoring commissioned a Water Monitoring Landscape Scan to inform discussions on a shared vision for water monitoring and reporting in British Columbia.
Living Lakes Canada, along with other members of the water monitoring working group, helped guide the project, which is captured in a new report authored by Carol Luttmer, BSc (Eng), MSc. Carol is also the Program Manager of Living Lakes Canada’s Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Program.
The Scan, while not intended to be comprehensive, identified over 125 water monitoring initiatives that represent a range of types of monitoring that vary in scope from monitoring at a single site to province-wide networks. Over 40 diverse data hubs, portals or databases that are sharing and/or summarizing data were also identified. Because of different monitoring objectives and organizational capacities there is no one-size-fits-all approach to water monitoring and reporting.
From September 4 – 7, 2018, Living Lakes Canada (LLC) and the BC Lake Stewardship Society (BCLSS) enlisted the help of several volunteers and local residents to collect lake quality data for five East Kootenay lakes as part of the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC)’s ongoing provincial lake monitoring program.
Water quality data is collected annually by MOECC, in both spring and fall, from lakes throughout the province. This year, LLC and the BCLSS were asked to assist with sampling in the East Kootenay region, including Windermere, Columbia, Whiteswan, Premier and Moyie lakes.
MOECC staff taught volunteers the sampling protocol used for the fall sampling project. First, temperature and dissolved oxygen were measured in the lakes using a 100-metre sonde. This data was used to determine the different “layers” of water that would be sampled. Next, composite water samples were collected to be analyzed for chemistry, nutrients, chlorophyll a, phytoplankton, zooplankton, and mussel larvae. This process took the team of volunteers between 2-6 hours for each lake that they sampled.
Monitoring for all of these parameters helps summarize the current ecological productivity of a lake, which is important knowledge for water quality and fisheries management. By monitoring every year in spring and fall, the lake data will show if and how these lakes may be changing over time.
This project was a great example of collaboration between community and government, and demonstrated how community-based water monitoring groups can play a more active role in provincial water monitoring programs.
Thanks go out to Norm Zirnhelt with the BCLSS for training the LLC staff and directing the fall field sampling. Special thanks also to the volunteer boat drivers who committed their time and efforts for this lake sampling: Gavin Jacobs (Lake Windermere Ambassadors), Dave Rae (Columere Park Community), Tracy and Glenn Flynn (Columbia Lake Stewardship Society/East Kootenay Wildlife Association), and Mike Labrie (Eagles Nest RV Resort).
The Kaska Dena nation has lived along the Liard River for thousands of years. They currently have an Indigenous Guardian Program called the Dene Nan Yedah program, which monitors moose, caribou, grizzly bear, fish, and protects high cultural use areas. Guardians act as the eyes and ears on their land, collecting important environmental data and enforcing traditional laws. Up until recently, the Dene Nan Yedah program did not include a water monitoring component.
On September 24/25, Living Lakes Canada trained the Dene Nan Yedah Guardian Program in the Environment and Climate Change Canada CABIN (Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network) protocol. The original training was scheduled to occur August 21/22, but was postponed due to the infringing fires, and the community was evacuated five days later. Community members were only able to return six days prior to the rescheduled training.
Although the area was severely affected, the Lower Post communities’ resilience pushed the course forward.
After the two-day field practicum, the Guardians – in collaboration with Living Lakes Canada and WWF-Canada – set up five CABIN stream assessment sites along the Alaska Highway from Lower Post to Liard River Hotsprings Provincial Park.
The Environmental DNA (eDNA) benthic samples that were collected will be sent to the University of Guelph for meta barcoding analysis, which uses gene sequencing linked to DNA/RNA barcode libraries to allow for a faster, more complete profile of biodiversity content from very small samples. This is a made-in-Canada technology that is now moving beyond proof of concept to real world applications.
With the support of Living Lakes Canada and WWF-Canada, the Dene Nan Yedah program has now expanded to include water quality and benthic invertebrate monitoring, and this monitoring will provide adequate baseline knowledge to help ensure that developments are done in a way that does not compromise the wild status of the Liard River.
Traditional monitoring for benthic invertebrates is time consuming and costly, as it requires a taxonomist to analyze the samples – eDNA helps combat this issue. Living Lakes Canada is partnering with WWF- Canada and the University of Guelph to support a national network of community based monitoring programs and/or Guardians programs that utilize eDNA technology to improve the understanding of benthic invertebrate communities in Canada.
The Dene Nan Yedah water monitoring program is one of the first to be trained using this technology through this initiative. At this stage, sampling is done with eDNA technology and traditional sampling methods to ensure accuracy.
The Dene Nan Yedah program is being implemented by the Dena Kayeh Institute on behalf of Kaska Dena communities of Good Hope Lake, Lower Post and Kwadacha.
Living Lakes Canada will be hosting their next CABIN field practicum training with the Environmental Stewardship Initiative in Smithers, B.C. on October 11/12. The course is now open to community members who are interested in becoming certified in the CABIN protocol. The course is running as a Field Assistant level – training in data collection only; online modules can be completed up to 2 years after. For further information or questions about CABIN field practicums, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In August 2018, Living Lakes Canada hosted a workshop on groundwater for a group of about 20 residents near Windermere, B.C. Residents had approached Living Lakes Canada because they were concerned that some domestic wells in their area were going dry.
Living Lakes Canada collaborated with GW Solutions to produce a 3-Dimensional Conceptual Model of the aquifers in the area. At the workshop, Dr. Gilles Wendling (GW Solutions) presented the model results and residents also learned about the BC Water Sustainability Act, the BC Groundwater Protection Regulation and Living Lakes Canada’s Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Project.
Residents shared local information about historical and current surface water and groundwater conditions so that we can get a better understanding of water resources in the area. Following the workshop, residents worked with Living Lakes Canada and Dr. Gilles Wendling to identify wells that could be suitable for monitoring in Living Lakes Canada’s Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Program.
The volume of water stored underground in the Columbia Basin is largely unknown, yet groundwater provides drinking water to many in the region, is used by agriculture and industry, and contributes to stream and river flows, keeping natural systems working optimally including providing sufficient flows to support fish.
Groundwater is expected to become an even more vital water resource with predicted climatic changes. A 2017 report on water monitoring and climate change in the Columbia Basin suggests that with climate change impacts — such as an increase in landslides — surface water quality may decline and more communities may shift to groundwater as a water supply source. Groundwater that seeps underground into streams and rivers may also become more necessary for maintaining enough water in streams and rivers for them to function properly.
“Groundwater is too important to solely rely on the government stewardship of it,” said Canadian geophysicist/engineer and Living Lakes Canada advisor Paul Bauman. “We must all do what we can to take on the responsibility and ownership of looking after this precious resource.”
Paul Bauman recently spoke at a groundwater workshop in Invermere as part of the Wings Over the Rockies Festival about his experiences working on grassroots groundwater initiatives in regions of the world where it is difficult to access clean drinking water. His presentation focused mainly on his recent travels to Uganda where he helped refugees identify water sources and build wells as they returned to their communities after 20 years of civil war.
In the Upper Columbia Basin, Living Lakes Canada (LLC) is monitoring groundwater in priority aquifers — the geological features underground that store and release water — through its Groundwater Monitoring Program. This is being done by locating already-existing wells and installing water level loggers to measure groundwater levels in the wells. Aquifer selection is based on potential for vulnerability to contamination, potential for user conflict, and high number of users.
Currently, of the 154 aquifers in the Upper Columbia Basin that have been mapped by the Province, 10 are being monitored in the LLC Groundwater Monitoring Program. LLC is looking for additional wells to monitor in the Wardner-Jaffrey, West Arm of Kootenay Lake and Crescent Valley areas and is interested in hearing from communities that would like to monitor aquifers in their region.
Water level data acquired through program is analyzed by a team of experts and shared with stakeholders to support informed decision making for groundwater use, stewardship, and climate adaptation planning. One example demonstrating how the data can be used is the State of Climate Adaptation report for the Regional District of East Kootenay Area F in 2017, which plans to use groundwater as an indicator of water supply for determining climate change resiliency.
“We’re gauging water quantity and comparing aquifer levels to precipitation,” said LLC Groundwater Monitoring Program Manager Carol Luttmer. “But groundwater-surface water interactions, water quality, and aquifer vulnerability to climate change are three areas that we believe will require further exploration.”
Members of the public are also encouraged to contact LLC about their own groundwater source and any related concerns.
For more information and to discuss groundwater monitoring in your community, contact Carol directly at email@example.com.
The multi-phased pilot program was started thanks to funding from the Columbia Basin Trust and now is moving forward beyond the successful pilot phase into a full project. Living Lakes Canada facilitates a community-driven approach for protecting water resources and recognizes the importance of data to support effective management of our resources.