Groundwater is central to community water sustainability. In the Columbia Basin, groundwater is used for domestic and agricultural purposes. Groundwater helps maintain water levels in wetlands, rivers and lakes, which is vital for human use and healthy ecosystems. Careful management and allocation of groundwater is becoming increasingly important as populations continue to grow, demand increases, and pressures such as climate change intensify.
A recent study on Water Monitoring and Climate Change in the Upper Columbia Basin suggests that changing climate conditions may increase the importance of groundwater for maintaining base stream flows in the Columbia Basin. Groundwater may also become an even more important potable water source as surface water sources could become seasonally restricted or of inadequate quality, or both, under changing climate conditions. The details about how and to what extent climate change will affect groundwater resources in the Basin remains unclear due a lack of mapping, monitoring, and analysis.
Living Lakes Canada’s Groundwater Monitoring Program is increasing our knowledge about groundwater resources in the Upper Columbia Basin so they can be protected and managed to meet human and ecological needs under changing climate conditions.
The objectives of the Program are to:
- Collect groundwater level data to determine how levels change seasonally and from year to year;
- Engage partners and citizens in the collection of data to increase knowledge and awareness about groundwater; and
- Share the data publicly so they can be used by researchers, water managers, policy makers, and citizens, to protect and manage the resource.
The Program works with local citizens, landowners, community groups, and First Nations, local, regional, and provincial governments to identify priority areas for monitoring. The Program partners with well owners to use existing wells to monitor groundwater. Wells that are suitable for monitoring are typically no longer used to supply water. The Program works with the well owner to secure appropriate monitoring equipment and provides training, field and maintenance work, data management, and analyses. Hourly data are collected using data loggers and manual measurements are collected by staff and/or volunteers, such as the well owner, following established protocols. The data show how groundwater levels change seasonally, and from year to year.
The data are shared publicly on the BC Real Time Data Tool where they can be viewed and downloaded by citizens, researchers, water managers, and policy makers to help manage water resources and be better prepared for seasonal variations and the effects of climate change.
If you would like to find out more about the Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Program, or have a suitable well for monitoring please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.