Urgent changes needed to limit climate change, says IPCC

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.

Find the IPCC press release here. 

A direct link to the report can be accessed here. 

“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.



Water Monitoring in British Columbia: Scanning the Data Landscape

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.

Click on the image to download the report.

Living Lakes Canada assists with East Kootenay lake monitoring

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).

Living Lakes Canada delivers CABIN training in the Liard River Watershed

The Dene Nan Yedah Guardian Program celebrate graduating the 2-day CABIN field practicum in the Liard River Watershed hosted by Living Lakes Canada in partnership with WWF-Canada for the Den Kayeh Institute.

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.    

James Malone from Good Hope Lake Guardians checks out Caddisflies during the Liard River watershed CABIN course.

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 raegan@livinglakescanada.ca.

Health of Pacific Coastal watershed revealed for first time

VICTORIA, Sept. 11, 2018 – Despite significant signs of stress in some southern sub-watersheds, the Pacific Coastal basin – stretching from Vancouver Island to Yukon Territory – has been found to be currently in good health overall based on new monitoring results from 33,074 monitoring sites reporting on water quality, water flow, fish and benthic invertebrates.

The finding provides an important baseline for a region ravaged by wildfires, and already enduring stress from pollution, climate change and, in some sub-watersheds, habitat fragmentation.

Until now, an overall health score for the Pacific Coastal watershed couldn’t be tabulated for World Wildlife Fund Canada’s Watershed Reports due to a lack of data for water quality and benthic invertebrates (including flies, beetles, aquatic worms, snails and leeches). While nearly two-thirds of Canada’s watersheds are data-deficient for health indicators, the lack of data in this region was especially worrisome since southern sub-watersheds in B.C. experience a high level of stress.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) published new water quality data last year, and WWF-Canada worked in partnership with both Living Lakes Canada and ECCC, with the support of Loblaw Company Ltd., to collect benthic samples that were then analyzed and assessed alongside previously collected data using WWF-Canada’s Watershed Reports methodology.

Elizabeth Hendriks, WWF-Canada’s vice-president of freshwater conservation, says: “Given the growing stress of climate change, it’s essential for wildlife – like salmon and other fish that move between freshwater and ocean ecosystems – and for communities that depend on access to fresh water that we maintain the health of these rivers and streams. While overall this finding is good news for B.C., when we look at the level of stress in southern subwatersheds, we know we can’t expect continued good health overall without a strong commitment to freshwater conservation. We’re on borrowed time now.”

Kat Hartwig, executive director of Living Lakes Canada, says: “Thanks to a growing network of community-based monitoring groups across the country and a robust baseline of data, we will be better able to track how events like this summer’s wildfires are changing conditions in our watersheds. With data baselines and trends, we will be better positioned to make science-based decisions and take the appropriate and necessary actions to safeguard the freshwater ecosystems.”

About the Pacific Coastal basin:

• This area is home to important freshwater-dependent wildlife including chinook and sockeye salmon (many populations of which are at-risk), grizzly and spirit bears, river otters, the coastal tailed frog (special concern), white sturgeon (endangered), western painted turtle Pacific Coast population (endangered).

• The overall health has been assessed as “Good” with many of the sub-watersheds scoring “Very Good.”

• Climate change is adding a high level of stress to the region, while pollution is adding a moderate level of stress. Why community-based monitoring?

• Canada’s geographic diversity and low density makes comprehensive monitoring networks a challenge to maintain. Community-based monitoring programs are far more nimble, with the potential for more comprehensive reach.

• WWF-Canada and Living Lakes Canada are championing community-based water monitoring (CBWM) as an efficient approach to fill national data gaps for watershed health indicators, and is calling for the Government of Canada to support CBWM by increasing resources and incorporating its data into national databases.


Groundwater workshop presented to Windermere, B.C. residents

Dr. Gilles Wendling presenting information on aquifer and groundwater conditions to a group of citizens near Windermere.

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.

Living Lakes Canada to attend 9th annual Canadian Water Summit

The “Blue Economy” is an emerging concept encouraging better stewardship of water resources that will be the focus of the 9th annual Canadian Water Summit to be held in Vancouver June 20-22.

As part of its exploration of the theme “Knowledge to Practice—Applying Science, Policy, and Research to the Blue Economy”, this year’s three-day Summit will feature an eye-opening session on innovation in water governance across jurisdictional and cultural boundaries that will involve the Kootenay Lake Partnership and Ktunaxa First Nation with support from Living Lakes Canada.

“The Kootenay Lake Partnership recently developed precedent setting shoreline development guidelines for Kootenay Lake,” said Heather Leschied of Living Lakes Canada, who also serves as Chair of the Kootenay Lake Partnership. She went on to note, “this multi-agency partnership took an innovative approach to a Federal protocol for mapping and classifying sensitive shoreline habitats, by integrating ecological, archaeological and Ktunaxa Nation cultural values.”

At last year’s Canadian Water Summit in Toronto, Living Lakes Canada received two Water’s Next awards. Executive director Kat Hartwig won “Water Steward of the Year” and “People – NGO category”. LLC Photo

Presenting on behalf of the Ktuanxa Nation and Kootenay Lake Partnership will be Craig Paskin, the Manager of Policy and Planning with the Ktunaxa Nation Council’s Lands and Resource Agency, who will be highlighting the efforts of the Kootenay Lake Partnership to support collaborative management approaches for a productive and healthy Kootenay Lake ecosystem. Kootenay Lake is the first project of its kind aimed at protecting and restoring important fish and wildlife habitats, while ensuring archaeological values and Ktunaxa cultural values are considered and protected during the planning and permit application process.

Featured each year as part of the Summit is the Water’s Next national awards program, which honours the achievements and ideas of individuals and companies that successfully work to advance water stewardship in Canada. Last year at the 8th annual Canadian Water Summit held in Toronto, Living Lakes Canada executive director Kat Hartwig won two of the 12 Water’s Next awards — the “Water Steward of the Year” award and the “People – NGO category” — for the work the LLC team has done over the years, including a national scan in partnership with Simon Fraser University and the University of Acadia to assess the state of community-based water monitoring across Canada and build a national dialogue around best practices in CBWM.

The Summit attracts over 300 attendees from the business, government, academic, and non-profit sectors each June, making it Canada’s largest and most diverse annual gathering of water leaders.

Follow Living Lakes Canada’s perspective of the event at #CdnWaterSummit.

To learn more about the Canadian Water Summit, visit https://watersummit.ca.


Living Lakes Canada applauds Teck for publicly releasing water quality reports

The following press release was issued by Teck Coal Limited on June 11. Teck operates five steelmaking coal mines in the Elk Valley of British Columbia, which employ over 4,000 people. See below for a statement by Living Lakes Canada Executive Director Kat Hartwig on the company’s decision to publicize its reports on water quality and aquatic health monitoring in the Elk River watershed. The decision re-affirms the need to have open, accessible data, as per the efforts of the Columbia Basin Water Data Hub dialogue, and industry plays a key role in this. 

Sparwood, B.C. — Teck is making available the data and results of ongoing water quality research and monitoring undertaken as part of the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan to broadly share the knowledge and information gained through this work.

The company reports in a June 11 press release it spends about $15 – $18 million a year on water quality and aquatic health studies and monitoring. Making this information more broadly available will help advance community knowledge and understanding and accelerate the pace of scientific progress and innovation in this area.

Aquatic monitoring in the Elk Valley. LLC Photo

The reports were prepared by professional scientists and represent the knowledge developed since 2014 when the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan was approved.

“Overall, the report findings confirm that the targets for selenium and other substances established in the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan are appropriate and protective of aquatic life. They also indicate that while concentrations of selenium and other substances are generally trending as expected, they are not affecting fish populations,” Teck stated.

“Effects on the percentage of some types of benthic invertebrates (certain types of mayflies) have been observed in specific downstream areas and further study work is being undertaken to determine the cause.”

The company said it is focused on continued monitoring and research, and taking the necessary steps to implement the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan and protect aquatic health across the watershed.

“Water quality is very important to communities, indigenous groups, and the more than 4,000 Teck employees in the Elk Valley,” said Marcia Smith, Senior Vice President, Sustainability and External Affairs. “A lot of work continues to go into understanding water quality and aquatic health in the Elk River watershed, and we are pleased to share our data. We believe these reports will help people see the efforts underway to better understand and manage water quality in the area.”The reports have been reviewed by the Environmental Monitoring Committee (EMC), a group that provides science-based and Ktunaxa Traditional Knowledge advice and input to Teck and the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy regarding monitoring designs and reports in the Elk Valley.

The committee includes representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Ktunaxa Nation Council, Interior Health Authority, Teck, and an independent scientist.

Kathryn Teneese, Ktunaxa Nation Council Chair: “The Ktunaxa Nation Council is very pleased to learn that Teck will be providing public access to water-related environmental monitoring reports on their website. There have been significant impacts to water in Qukin ʔamaʔkis (Elk Valley) due to coal mining, and transparency and a shared understanding of the current situation across Indigenous, provincial, federal and state governments is important. The value and significance of water to the Ktunaxa Nation and in Qukin ʔamaʔkis cannot be understated, and a shared understanding allows for meaningful discussions on next steps to address impacts to water.”

Living Lakes Canada’s Executive Director Kat Hartwig: “We were pleased to learn that Teck is sharing the water quality data that they have publicly. Transparency from all sectors, including industry, is essential for more effective collaboration amongst First Nations and non-First Nations government, academia and community groups in order to address water quality and quantity challenges which are only intensifying with climate change. This good first step will eventually align with the open source Water Data Hub currently being discussed for the Columbia Basin.”

The reports have previously been shared with regulators and the Ktunaxa Nation Council and have been used to inform the implementation of the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan. The report findings have also been summarized on an annual basis in the Environmental Monitoring Committee Public Report. Teck is committed to releasing future reports as they are developed, following review, input and advice from the EMC.

Electronic copies of the reports can be found at www.teck.com/elkv

Living Lakes International turns 20!

Today — June 11, 2018 — is the 20th birthday of the international Living Lakes Network. The network was launched 20 years ago today at a press conference in Los Angeles, USA with the four founding members Lake Constance (Germany, Switzerland, Austria), Mono Lake (USA), Lake St. Lucia (South Africa), and Lake Biwa (Japan).  Global Nature Fund is the coordinator of this vivid partnership that currently consists of 109 member lakes, represented by 126 organizations in 54 countries.

In 2010, Wildsight, with the participation of the Global Nature Fund and the Lake Winnipeg Foundation, established Living Lakes Canada to unite lake associations and water stewardship groups throughout Canada.

Living Lakes Canada is proud to be a part of Living Lakes International’s global network of non-government associations that share the mission to enhance the protection, restoration and rehabilitation of lakes, rivers, wetlands and watersheds throughout the world.

Learn more about Living Lakes International here.

Living Lakes Canada encourages Basin communities to attend Columbia River Treaty meetings

Lake Koocanusa is a reservoir formed by the Libby Dam that’s a part of the Columbia River Treaty. LLC Photo

Starting in the 1930s, the construction of dams on the Columbia River transformed a wild waterway into a controlled system of reservoirs managed by the largest international flood control and power generation agreement between Canada and the United States known as the Columbia River Treaty (CRT).

On May 29, 2018, negotiations began between Canada and the U.S. to renew the CRT, and a series of Community Meetings to gather public input is slated to start in the Columbia Basin on June 11. According to Living Lakes Canada Executive Director Kat Hartwig, it’s time “to look beyond just the river.”

Hartwig attended a special one-day symposium on the future of the CRT on May 28 in Victoria, B.C. as part of the CWRA 2018 National Conference (Canadian Water Resources Association).

“The negotiations are seen as opportunity to modernize the CRT, and that greater emphasis should be placed on watershed-based ecosystem function and health,” she said. “Living Lakes Canada (LLC) is interested in the monitoring and health of the tributaries and high elevation lakes that feed into the Columbia River. Climate-related increased glacial melt will impact the amount and timing of water contributing to the river, which is both relevant to the CRT dialogue, as well as the understanding of the health of the watershed as a whole.”

Out of the symposium came pressing recommendations for the CRT negotiations. Namely, to restore wild stock salmon (in support of the united transboundary First Nations and Tribes calling for the return of salmon to the Upper Columbia); to re-establish a more natural river system through ecosystem-based management that includes local community leaders, First Nations/Tribes, and other key stakeholders; to commit to a holistic view of the Columbia River as if no borders existed; to address climate change through developing more resiliency for aquatic and riparian communities; and to create a binational science panel to oversee comprehensive water quality and ecosystem based monitoring programs and scientific investigations.

“Living Lakes Canada is encouraging people to attend the CRT Community Meetings in June to get a better understanding why community-based water monitoring is important if a modernized treaty is going to take ecosystem health into account,” said Hartwig.

The Columbia River Treaty Community Meeting series is hosted by the provincial government and will take place at nine locations in the Upper Columbia Basin between June 11 and 21. The meetings will provide an update on Columbia River Treaty negotiations between Canada and the United States, and host discussions on important community interests that should be considered during the negotiations.

“A renewed treaty needs to examine environmental flows for fish which means understanding what is happening in the tributaries, and this data collection can and is being collected in collaboration with First Nations and non-First Nations community-based water monitoring groups,” Hartwig said..

For locations and dates of the community meetings, visit http://engage.gov.bc.ca/columbiarivertreaty/.

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Living Lakes Canada


Box 691, Invermere, BC, Canada, V0A 1K0

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