Kootenay Watershed Science

Most West Kootenay communities depend on small streams for domestic and agricultural water supply.  Many of these streams also provide important aquatic and riparian habitat. The ability of these small streams to continue to supply water for human use and to support biodiversity will be increasingly impacted by climate change. Despite the region’s dependence on small streams, current hydrometric and climate monitoring/modelling focuses on watersheds much larger than those supporting most West Kootenay communities.

Kootenay Watershed Science (formerly known as the North Kootenay Lake Water Monitoring Project or NKLWMP) is working to improve understanding and prediction of how these small- and medium-sized watersheds are going to behave in a changing climate, especially in conditions of extreme high and low precipitation.

KWS began as an initiative of the Kaslo and District Community Forest Society in 2007 and its transition to the KWS was initiated in 2012.  An ongoing partnership between Living Lakes Canada and KWS was formed in 2017 to focus on collaborative funding, education, monitoring, rehabilitation and policy development initiatives for the long-term protection of Canada’s lakes , wetlands and watersheds.  In summer 2020, KWS joined forces with LLC and began operating as a program under the LLC umbrella. This program will support the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework by supplying quality-controlled data to the Columbia Basin Water Hub open source database, which is currently being facilitated by LLC.

Photo: KWS

The project has established seven hydrometric stations, two high-elevation snow course sites, two high-elevation climate stations and one low-elevation climate station on the north end of Kootenay Lake. These sites were strategically selected to complement existing regional monitoring sites. KWS follows monitoring protocols established within British Columbia and uses a blend citizen scientists and professional hydrologists to collect data and maintain the monitoring program

The quality-controlled data collected and analyzed by the project will provide decision makers with much needed information to guide critical conservation efforts, land use planning, development decisions, protection of water supplies, and forest management. The data can be used to improve prediction of flood frequencies, mass wasting events, and low water supply, as well as to reduce the risk posed by catastrophic events in a changing climate. The project will be working to build partnerships with data-users and community groups over the upcoming years.

If you would like to learn more about Kootenay Watershed Science, please email mark@livinglakescanada.ca

Photo: KWS

KWS is grateful for the funders and volunteers who have made the project both possible and successful to date. Financial support has been made by the Kootenay Lake Local Conservation Fund, Columbia Basin Trust, Regional District of Central Kootenay, Kootenay Savings Credit Union, Nelson & District Credit Union, Columbia Power Corporation, and the Kootenay Country Store Co-op. In-kind support has been received from numerous local volunteers, Kootenay Centre for Forestry Alternatives Society, BC Ministry of Forest, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, Kaslo & District Community Forest Society, Selkirk College, Powder Hounds Ski Club, and the Johnson’s Landing Community Association.


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