Canadian water innovation featured in renowned international journal

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Dwindling snowpacks, depleting freshwater sources, and longer and more intense droughts and wildfire seasons are not just headlines; they’re the new reality of our changing climate. As precipitation patterns change, communities and their waterways are at the forefront of experiencing changes locally. Yet within these challenges lies an opportunity for innovative systems change to drive climate resilient watershed management. 

In a special issue of the peer-reviewed Water International journal focused on water governance, Living Lakes Canada’s Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework (CBWMF) was selected as a featured case study. The article details the CBWMF’s pioneering approach, which emphasizes stakeholders engagement and prioritizes monitoring based on scientific and community criteria, as a localized solution for water management challenges. With its proven effectiveness in the Columbia Basin, this leading-edge framework is positioned to serve as a model for similar networks in river basins across the globe.

“In response to rapidly shifting baselines and significant water data gaps, the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework is a paradigm-shifting model that is charting a course for adaptive watershed management through a water balance approach to better understand community and ecosystems water needs,” said Kat Hartwig, Executive Director of Living Lakes Canada. “The  Water International publication articulates the need for a collaborative regional problem solving approach that is supported by both Indigenous Knowledge and western science for informed  decision making. It demonstrates a template that can be customized for other regions.”

In response to documented data gaps identified in reports produced by the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (2006, 2013) and Columbia Basin Trust (2017) Living Lakes launched 3 pilot areas of the CBWMF in 2022 to collect and track data to understand climate impacts in the glacier-dominated Canadian Columbia Basin. The framework has expanded over the past two years to monitor five hydrologic regions covering 12,500 square kilometres, with the long-term goal of filling data gaps in the entire Basin region. 

Hydrometric monitoring on Dunbar Creek, BC. LLC photo

An important transboundary watershed, the mountainous Columbia River Basin is considered one of North America’s most important water towers, serving nine million people in two Canadian provinces and six U.S. states. It is also the foundation of the Columbia River Treaty, the water management agreement between Canada and the United States centred on flood control management and power generation on Columbia Basin river systems.  

“Since its inception, collaboration has been a core pillar of the success and continued growth of the Framework,” said Paige Thurston, Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework Program Manager. “From community organizations, First Nations and government, to academia, industry and other agencies, partners have helped increase our collective capacity to plan and implement this model and monitor selected water bodies.”

Water International’s special issue is set to debut at the World Water Forum in Bali, Indonesia, running from May 18-25. Ahead of the event, the article is already available online as an open-access publication.

Learn more about the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework: For more information and to inquire about collaborating on this project, please contact

Thank you to our funders and partners on this project without whom this achievement would not have been possible.

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