Underground water matters: monitoring groundwater in the Columbia Basin is more important than ever

It was a packed room for the groundwater monitoring workshop delivered by Living Lakes Canada in Invermere on May 11 as part of the Wings Over the Rockies Festival. Photo by Nicole Trigg/Living Lakes Canada

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.”

Living Lakes Canada Groundwater Monitoring Program Manager Carol Luttmer and Canadian geophysicist/engineer Paul Bauman (also a Living Lakes Canada advisor) were the presenters at the groundwater monitoring workshop delivered by Living Lakes Canada in Invermere on May 11 as part of the Wings Over the Rockies Festival. Photo by Nicole Trigg/Living Lakes Canada

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 carol@livinglakescanada.ca.

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.

Learn to monitor stream health: CABIN training in Nelson, July 17-18

We all want healthy streams. Streams are living systems that affect the water we drink, the food we eat, the well-being of fish and wildlife, and the economy through fishing and other outdoor recreation.

Assessing the health of a stream can be done by counting the number of insects living in it — specifically, benthic macroinvertebrates (the backboneless bugs that are generally visible to the naked eye that live on the bottom of streams).

In Canada, a national protocol called CABIN (Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network) has been established that collects benthic macroinvertebrates and uses their counts as an indicator of a water body’s health.

Living Lakes Canada (LLC) is the only Canadian NGO trained by Environment and Climate Change Canada to train community groups, professionals, industry and First Nation communities in the CABIN methodology, which is the most widely used national protocol to assess the health of streams.

This summer, LLC will be holding a CABIN field practicum in Nelson, B.C. on July 17 and 18 that is open to the public.

Living Lakes Canada CABIN training in Nelson in 2017.

“Community-based water monitoring (CBM) is emerging across Canada as an untapped potential to help solve pressing challenges associated with watershed management,” said LLC Water Stewardship Lead Raegan Mallinson. “Living Lakes Canada trains citizen scientists in community-based monitoring because citizens are concerned and want to ensure that their lakes, rivers, wetlands and watersheds remain healthy and that their communities are climate resilient. They want to be involved in the decisions that affect their local watersheds including source water protection, drinking water quality, resource development and sustainable water and land use.”

Living Lakes Canada learns from experience in the field and through mentoring from Canada’s top water scientists to develop and deliver successful citizen science, community-based water monitoring initiatives. Indigenous communities have been monitoring or “watching the land and water” for generations by collecting observations combined with traditional knowledge passed on from Elders. Both indigenous and non-indigenous community-based water monitoring present enormous and cost-effective opportunities to empower communities to work collaboratively with governments and industry for holistic water management.

“The CABIN training program provides the knowledge and skills required to conduct a biomonitoring program to CABIN standards,” said Raegan.

Participants who receive CABIN training take part in a two-day CABIN field practicum that provides instruction for the standardized data collection techniques. Depending on the level of training that the participant chooses to undergo — from Field Technician to Program Manager — various modules are required to access and use the CABIN database. The CABIN database provides trainees with tools to store and manage their data and studies, and a suite of online analysis and reporting tools.

“Join us in the streams of the West Kootenay to learn how to create and carry out your own biomonitoring program to assess the health of your surrounding freshwater ecosystems,” said Raegan.

For more information on CABIN training levels, modules, cost and to register for LLC’s Nelson CABIN training, visit http://canadianriversinstitute.com/training/cabin/; and visit the Nelson CABIN training event page on Facebook here.

Living Lakes Canada CABIN training in Parksville in 2017.

Join us for a Groundwater Workshop at Wings 2018

What is groundwater and why do we monitor it?

Discover why groundwater monitoring is vital to community planning in the face of climate change in this Wings Over the Rockies workshop.

Living Lakes Canada’s Raegan Mallinson and Invermere area volunteer Buzz Harmsworth collecting groundwater data for the Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Program. Photo by Heather Leschied

Groundwater, one of our most important yet least known natural resources, will be explored during an illuminating workshop at this year’s Wings Over the Rockies festival.

According to the 2017 Columbia Basin Trust report Water Monitoring and Climate Change in the Upper Columbia Basin: A Summary of Current Status and Opportunities by Dr. Martin Carver, the effects of climate change on groundwater resources in the Columbia Basin remains unclear due a lack of mapping, monitoring, and analysis.

On May 11 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Pynelogs Cultural Centre in Invermere, join Living Lakes Canada and Canadian geophysicist/engineer Paul Bauman for a discussion on the interconnectedness of groundwater within our global system.

During the workshop, learn about aquifers in the Columbia Basin, the Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Program (the first citizen science groundwater monitoring program in B.C.), other water monitoring initiatives, and how groundwater relates to the new Water Sustainability Act.

This is also an opportunity to tell us about your water source and any related concerns to help Living Lakes Canada develop and expand the Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Program.

“Given climate change, we expect groundwater to become an even more important resource, both as source water for humans and as a contributor to base river flows in times of drought,” says Living Lakes Canada Groundwater Monitoring Program Manager Carol Luttmer.

The workshop will not only pinpoint groundwater investigations taking place here in the Columbia Basin, but also in far-flung Northern Uganda where Paul Bauman, a Living Lakes Canada advisor, was part of a team to train the local people how to repair and maintain their water systems after two decades of civil war.

The cost of the workshop is just $15.

To register for “Connections Down Under – Groundwater in the Columbia Basin & Beyond with Paul Bauman & Carol Luttmer”, visit https://www.wingsovertherockies.org/events/event-details/connections-down-under—groundwater-in-the-columbia-basin-_-beyond-with-paul-bauman,-heather-leschied-_-carol-luttmer/663 and select “Book Now”.

If you would like more information or to discuss groundwater monitoring in your community, contact Carol directly at carol@livinglakescanada.ca.

A “hands-on” education project to train Ugandan students to look for water in the most desperate of the Acholi villages in Gulu district, as well as to train Acholi students, led by Calgary, AB geophysicist Paul Bauman, supported by five geophysicist volunteers from Alberta, The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG,) Geoscientists Without Borders (GWB) Foundation, IsraAID. Photo by Pat Morrow

Water Data Hub Dialogue exceeds all expectations

On November 29 & 30, residents, guests and water experts gathered in Invermere, B.C. to discuss current water monitoring initiatives and water data storage hubs used in B.C., Canada and in the USA, and what the next steps are towards developing a collaborative water monitoring framework and data hub for the Columbia Basin.

The event — A Water Data Hub Dialogue: Cracking the Code in 3D — focused on two days of learning, sharing, and creative brainstorming amongst scientists, government, industry, community groups, First Nations, and technology experts with the goal of moving toward integrating the region’s water knowledge through freely accessed open source data and applied decision making.

Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to this energizing and ambitiously successful event. A special thank you to Shuswap Band Chief Barb Cote and Akisqnuk First Nation Chief Alfred Joseph of the Ktunaxa Nation for welcoming us to their shared Traditional Territory.

Click here for a video of the Women’s Warrior Song welcome by members of the Shuswap Band (the song starts at the 0:46 second mark).

Some of what we have heard so far from the water dialogue attendees:

  • “Surprising mix of diverse expert presenters. Exceeded all expectations. Wonderful to see that so much of this work is already underway.”
  • “I will advocate for and help educate people about the Data Hub and its benefits, and get as many organizations in my community interested and involved as I can. I don’t make decisions regarding funding available, but will dedicate time and effort to keep my community involved in this important initiative.”
  • “Great couple of days. Very good speakers and very well organized.”
  • “Great job. Lots of information, partnerships and collaboration. Good initial planning for a great framework”
  • “Wow, excellent summaries, input and synthesis. Volunteer efforts of people stepping up to collect input is fabulous! Nice approach.”

A full proceeding of the dialogue including speaker presentations, breakout session brainstorming, survey results and next steps will be available mid-January.

To review live coverage of the dialogue including photos of slides and guest speaker quotes, visit Living Lakes Canada on Twitter and the event hashtag #WaterDataHub2017.

We would like to thank Pat Morrow for capturing the two-day conference. To view our photo albums, find Living Lakes Canada on Facebook and or go directly to the online albums “Cracking the Code in 3D Day 1” and “Cracking the Code in 3D Day 2”.

 

Photo by Pat Morrow

Living Lakes Canada’s Stewardship Lead in Colombia sharing community-based water monitoring experiences

Living Lakes Canada Water Stewardship Lead Raegan Mallison with two Colombian Watershed Keepers and Gila Somers from the NWT government in Colombia at the National Watershed Forum November 14-16.

A Colombian national forum was held in the city of Pereira from November 14-16, 2017 with the participation of 50 watershed keepers from across the country, and Living Lakes Canada’s Raegan Mallinson attended and presented at the conference. The conference was part of the Colombian Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS in Spanish) programming to support watershed management and monitoring by engaging regional and local watershed advisors (Consejeros de Cuencas).

The agenda featured presentations on the role of watershed keepers and Community-Based Monitoring (CBM) and the challenges that are faced in various regions of the country, as well as sessions to initiate collaboration among the range of forum participants.

As the Water Stewardship Lead for Living Lakes Canada, Raegan was at the forum to provide hands-on knowledge of what it takes to carry out effective community-based monitoring. She shared recent developments including Living Lakes Canada’s role in the national freshwater citizen science program using environmental DNA with the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network protocol in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada, the University of Guelph and WWF-Canada.

Following the forum, she is meeting with water monitors and community members in the Putumayo department to exchange experiences on CBM, including approaches that interweave Traditional Knowledge, such as Living Lakes Canada’s Pilot Project on the integration of traditional language with the national CABIN protocol, as well as cultural, social and environmental perspectives faced by vulnerable populations.

The mission is also anticipated to provide valuable information to Global Affairs Canada and the Canadian Embassy in Colombia related to community involvement in decision-making with a focus on environment management, governance and decision-making directly involving women, youth and vulnerable populations.

Check back for a summary of Raegan’s experiences when she returns to Canada November 25.

CRACKING THE CODE (IN 3-D): A WATER DATA HUB DIALOGUE

CRACKING THE CODE
(IN 3-D)

 An Open Source Data Dialogue Towards a Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework

Wed, Nov 29, 2017, 8:30 AM – Thu, Nov 30, 2017, 4:30 PM MST
Copper Point Resort in Invermere, B.C.

Click here for EVENT PROGRAM including detailed agenda and speakers bios.

REGISTER HERE

Click here for advance MEDIA COVERAGE of the conference (see pages 5 & 10).

Join the Conversation: #WaterDataHub2017

ABOUT THE CONFERENCE

On November 29th and 30th in the Columbia Valley (Invermere), join the dialogue that will envision creating a Water Monitoring Framework for Source Water Protection and a shared, Open Source Water Data Hub for the Columbia Basin.
The goal of the dialogue is to develop a collective understanding for integrating the region’s water knowledge through freely accessed open source data that is useful, reliable, and evaluated and applied by users.

***

During this action focused event, participants will craft 3-D outcomes:

  1. DECIDE: An understanding for what is required to catalyze a water monitoring framework towards filling important water data gaps for a watershed.    
  2. DESIGN: A vision for a Columbia Basin-specific, open access, water data hub.
  3. DO: Cross-sector working groups to move forward on the shared water data hub and the water monitoring framework

***

A WATER MONITORING FRAMEWORK

In February 2017, Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) released a report led by Dr. Martin Carver outlining the current status of water quality and quantity knowledge in the Columbia Basin. The report, titled “Water Monitoring and Climate in the Upper Columbia Basin, Summary of Current Status and Opportunities”, revealed that Basin water data is inadequate for the undertaking of managing and protecting the region’s water resources in response to climate change.

Over the past few decades, the federal and provincial governments have reduced their hydrometric monitoring, especially on smaller streams. Because existing monitoring networks pre-dated the need for regional climate impacts monitoring, the current network does not represent an optimal configuration for tracking and understanding the full range of implications of climate change on water supply for Basin ecosystems and people (Carver, 2017).

In light of this report, time is of the essence when it comes to establishing a Water Monitoring Framework for the Basin, an endeavour particularly relevant to the region’s higher-volume users such as communities and municipalities, hydropower operators, agricultural producers, industrial operations, ski resorts (snowmaking), as well as commercial and residential users.

A WATER DATA HUB

Storage and access to Columbia Basin water data in a way that supports decision-making is the next step. Cracking the Code (in 3-D) will tap into conversation about open source data that is currently trending on a global scale in citizen scientist, academic, government and industry circles. The time for an innovative, coordinated and collaborative open water data platform for the Basin — one that is free of charge and open to everybody — has arrived, but it’s not without its challenges. How to efficiently house reliable, multi-tiered data is the question everyone is grappling with.

We will learn about best practices examples from regions in Canada and the U.S. We will have a shared understanding regarding water monitoring and water data storage needs from the perspectives of government (all levels) including First Nations, community water stewardship groups, industry sectors and academia.

AGENDA HIGHLIGHTS

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2017
CHARTING THE WATERS
  • Day 1 — Charting the Waters — panels will focus on holistic best practices of larger scale collaborative water monitoring initiatives; shared understanding of big data hubs; current and future water monitoring and database needs for all levels of government, industry and communities. Day one will finish with plenary dinner guests to share a First Nations water stewardship perspective. There will be an optional visit to Radium Hot Springs.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2017
DIVING IN
  • Day 2 — Diving In — panels will have a more in-depth focus: on-the-ground First Nations and non-First Nations community based water monitoring examples; local and regional government and industry examples; needs for shared data and collaborative monitoring work. This will be followed by a facilitated session to gather input for next steps needed in creating a Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework and a Basin-specific water data hub.

Click here for EVENT PROGRAM including detailed agenda and speaker bios.

EVENT DETAILS

Cost: $200 ($100 per day)

  • Covers all meals (breakfast x2, lunch x2, snacks x4, dinner x1), coffee and registration
  • Optional shuttle to local hot springs included – hot springs entry must be paid separately by attendee

Discounted Locals’ Day Rate: $100 ($50 per day)

  • Covers lunch and snacks only (no breakfast or dinners), coffee and daytime registration only (no evening presentation)
  • No hot springs shuttle included

We have blocked rooms at the Copper Point Resort where the conference will be held. The resort has offered conference delegates a special off-season room rate. Please make sure you notify the resort that you will be attending the Conference to ensure the discount is applied.

Direct room reservations can be made by calling the central reservations line at: 1.855.926.7737 or by emailing: reservations@copperpointresort.com, Monday through Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Discounted Suite Options:

  •  Standard Rooms – $83.00/night + taxes
  • 1 Bedroom Suite – $132.00/night + taxes
  • 2 Bedroom Suite – $195.00/night + taxes

BURSARIES

Bursaries will be available to individuals working with non-profit watershed stewardship groups as well as interested First Nations. Please apply here — a limited number will be available.

TRANSPORTATION

Transportation will be provided from Calgary International Airport to Copper Point Resort in Invermere on Tuesday, November 28. Anyone requiring transportation is asked to meet between 3 and 5 p.m. at Calgary International Airport on November 28. Return transportation will be available on Friday, December 1st. For details, please email Avery Deboer-Smith at averydeboer@gmail.com.

For those interested in carpooling options, ride sharing information will be emailed to all registrants prior to the conference.

 

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Open Source Data Hub Dialogue

OPEN SOURCE DATA HUB DIALOGUE:
Towards a Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework

Wed, Nov 29, 2017, 8:30 AM – Thu, Nov 30, 2017, 4:30 PM MST
In Invermere, BC

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

About the Conference

You can read the overview and agenda highlights by clicking here.

In February 2017, Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) released its “Water Monitoring and Climate in the Upper Columbia Basin, Summary of Current Status and Opportunities” report led by Dr. Martin Carver. The report outlines the current status of water quality and quantity knowledge in the Columbia Basin. Filling important water data gaps will be a priority in order to support informed decision-making for elected officials, government agencies and water managers.  Decisions regarding water allocation, watershed governance, ecosystem health, source water and aquifer protection will become increasingly complex in this era of climate change .

On November 29th and 30th, join the dialogue that will envision creating a Water Monitoring Framework and a shared, Open Source Water Data Hub in the Columbia Basin. The goal of the dialogue is to develop a collective understanding for modernizing water knowledge with useful, reliable, open source data, that is freely accessed, evaluated and applied by users. The time for a coordinated, collaborative, innovative, user friendly, cost effective and open water data platform, has arrived.  We will learn about best practices examples from regions in Canada and the U.S.  We will have a shared understanding regarding water monitoring and water data storage needs from the perspectives of government (all levels), indigenous and non indigenous engaged water stewardship groups, engaged industry sectors and academia.

Dialogue Outcomes

  1. A vision for a Columbia Basin specific, open source, water data hub.
  2. An understanding for what is required to catalyze a water monitoring framework towards filling important water data gaps for a watershed.
  3. Cross-sector working groups will be formed to move forward on the shared water data hub and the water monitoring framework.

Long-Term Vision – Toward Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework

Develop a comprehensive Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework and Open Source Water Data Hub, that is supported and implemented by a collaboration of agencies and organizations to address the knowledge gaps; improve water data management; and inform applied science-based decision-making.

  1. Establish partnerships with organizations, agencies, and First Nations to support and guide the Water Monitoring Framework and Data Hub Dialogue and develop subsequent action items.
  2. Prioritize regional water knowledge gaps based on the 2017 CBT report, the WWF National Freshwater Health Assessment, and other sources.
  3. Identify appropriate approaches, partnerships and first steps for collecting and analyzing water data to help address knowledge gaps.
  4. Expand the collaboration of agencies and organizations to address and share information regarding water knowledge gaps.
  5. Develop and populate water database in open source platform.
  6. Link water data with decision-making.
  7. Share lessons on provincial and national scales.
  8. Learn lessons from other provincial, regional scales and other best practices examples.

Ticket Costs Cover

Tickets are $200 for the two-day conference and will include:

  1. Meals (breakfast x2, lunch x2, snacks x4, dinner x1), coffee and registration
  2. Optional shuttle to local hot springs will be included – hotspring entry must be paid separately by attendee

We have blocked rooms at the Copper point resort where the conference will be held.  The resort has offered conference delegates a special off season room rate. Please make sure you notify the resort that you will be attending the Conference to ensure the discount is applied.

Direct reservations can be made by calling the central reservations line at: 1.855.926.7737 or by emailing: reservations@copperpointresort.com, Monday through Friday between the hours of 9am – 4pm.

Discounted Suite Options:

Standard Rooms – $83.00/night + taxes
1 Bedroom Suite – $132.00/night + taxes
2 Bedroom Suite – $195.00/taxes

Direct reservations can be made by calling the central reservations line at: 1.855.926.7737 or by emailing: reservations@copperpointresort.com, Monday through Friday between the hours of 9am – 4pm.

Bursaries

Bursaries will be available to individuals working with relevant non-profit groups – A limited number will be available. Bursaries will become available when registration opens. Please fill out our bursary application by clicking here.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Read agenda highlights and overview by clicking here.

Conveners

Nelson Field Practicum – Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN)

Do you want to conduct freshwater benthic invertebrate monitoring and assessment to test the water quality on streams near you?

Living Lakes Canada is hosting a Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network Field Practicum in Nelson, BC September 13 and 14.

Join us and register today!

For more information on CABIN and aquatic biomonitoring.

Space is limited. Registration closes August 28, 2017.

Please share this opportunity with your networks.

The Healthy Water’s Summit June 12, 2017

Water Canada magazine’s Water’s Next Award program is the only national awards program to honour leadership across the entire water sector—including public servants, non-governmental groups, researchers, municipalities, and technology providers. Since 2010, Water Canada has hosted the awards to help strengthen and celebrate the thriving national community by showcasing Canada’s water leaders, champions, and innovators.

The Water’s Next national awards program honours the achievements and ideas of individuals and companies that successfully work to change water in our country.

Download the Summit PDF

Also check out the The Water’s Next Gala Award Dinner held at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel on Thursday, June 22, 2017

Living Lakes Canada Executive Director Katrina Hartwig is a finalist in the NGO category for the 2017 Water’s Next Award

Water Canada magazine’s Water’s Next Award program is the only national awards program to honour leadership across the entire water sector—including public servants, non-governmental groups, researchers, municipalities, and technology providers. Since 2010, Water Canada has hosted the awards to help strengthen and celebrate the thriving national community by showcasing Canada’s water leaders, champions, and innovators.

Good Luck Kat!

The Water’s Next Gala Award Dinner will be held at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel on June 22, 2017