“Community-based water monitoring is emerging across Canada as an untapped potential to help solve pressing challenges associated with watershed management.” ~ Raegan Mallinson, Living Lakes Canada Water Stewardship Lead
Thanks to the Nelson Design Collective, our website soft launch has a vibrant new look, beautifully featuring the water stewardship work done by our Living Lakes Canada team. You will find pictures and full profiles of the Living Lakes Canada extended team and advisors, updated projects and events, an easy-to-navigate project library and sorting tool, new “Get Involved” and “Donate Today” sections, and more. We hope you’ll take the time to explore the site and discover more about our programs, our team, our network and our vision.
Living Lakes Canada is gearing up for a great and busy season! We heldour first field training workshop of the season with more trainings on the horizon, we’re working on launching a new and improved website, and we’re excited to share the results of the first Water Data Hub Stewardship Committee meeting as well as thoughts and resources on the United Nation’s Decade of Water Action (2018-2028). Don’t miss the Wings Over the Rockies workshop we’re co-hosting with Canadian geophysicist/engineer Paul Bauman on May 11 in Invermere – details on all these items and more below. Happy reading!
By Living Lakes Canada Stewardship Coordinator Raegan Mallinson
In 2016, the United Nations and World Bank Group convened a High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) to provide leadership in tackling one of the world’s most pressing challenges – an approaching global water crisis.
In advance of World Water Day 2018 on March, the United Nations and HLPW launched the Water Action Decade 2018–2028, calling for a fundamental shift in global water management.
The UN Decade of Water Action has 3 main Foundations for Action:
UNDERSTAND WATER… Commit to making evidence-based decisions about water, and cooperate to strengthen water data, such as through the HLPW World Water Data Initiative.
VALUE WATER… Use the HLPW Principles on Valuing Water to sustainably, efficiently, and inclusively allocate and manage water resources and deliver and price water services accordingly
MANAGE WATER… Implement integrated approaches to water management at local, national, and transboundary levels, strengthen water governance, and ensure gender equality and social inclusion.
Why does this matter? 40% of the world’s people are affected by water scarcity.
What does this mean for Canada? Canada is home to 20 per cent of the world’s freshwater supply.
What does this mean for Living Lakes Canada? Living Lakes Canada engages Canadians to build a water stewardship and conservation ethic through hands-on water monitoring training and watershed health education, and by involving communities, academics, industry, governments and First Nations in building climate resiliency within our communities through linking applied science for water and land-use management and decision-making.
Our projects and activities contribute to the conservation of Canada’s water through increased knowledge, awareness, engagement and actions to protect Canadian watersheds.
Taking responsibility for the watersheds on which we depend will be essential for implementing the UN Decade for Water Action. Through education and training in water monitoring protocols, communities across Canada will better understand the state of their watersheds, potential threats such as pollution and destruction, and be able to collaborate, share ideas for the conservation and remediation of their watersheds, and raise the importance of the water dialogue to the level of urgency it now requires now.
With 40% of the world’s people affected by water scarcity and with Canada being home to 20% of the world’s freshwater supply, we as Canadians are faced with an important task in water management and conservation as our models are being recognized around the world.
Water Canada spoke to Sulton Rahimzoda, First Deputy Minister of Energy and Water Resources of the Republic of Tajikistan about the Decade:
“We need as many countries as possible to join efforts and advance the water agenda at all levels. Canada is definitely a leader on water resources. The International Joint Commission on shared waters with the United States is one of the first and finest examples of water cooperation, inspiring many countries around the world. The joint management of transboundary waters, such as in the Colombia Basin is a model for many basins.”
(Excerpt) The panel’s report sets out a three-pillared agenda to define essential activities to meet SDGs, and goal 6 in particular:
Foundations for action. This includes understanding water from an evidence-based decision framework, support by sound data; valuing water with a mind to sustainability, efficiency, and inclusivity to manage and deliver water resources appropriately; and managing water equitably and inclusively at all levels of governance.
An integrated agenda. This includes universal access to water and sanitation; resilient societies and economies to reduce disaster risk; increased water infrastructure investment; nurturing environmental water by preventing pollution and degradation; and developing sustainable cities.
Catalyzing change, building partnerships, and international cooperation. This includes promoting innovation; strengthening partnerships; and increasing global water cooperation.
Community-based Water Monitoring (CBWM) is gaining momentum across Canada and is a powerful means of achieving shared water management and sustainability objectives. As interest in CBWM grows, investments to organize and implement community-driven initiatives are being made across Canada. To realize the full potential of this momentum, there is a need for strategic thinking and coordination at the national level.
We sent an online survey to over 500 individuals from community and non-governmental organizations, government, Indigenous organizations, and research institutions to set priorities for a multi-sector, national-scale discussion on CBWM.
146 participants shared valuable insights on the priorities that need to be addressed to advance CBWM in Canada, as well as guidance on strategies to facilitate change at the federal level. The survey results demonstrated that there are tangible opportunities to increase federal-level supports for CBWM and that a considerable appetite exists for a collaborative, national discussion on the topic.
This summary provides the highlights of what we learned and synthesizes recommendations to help direct next steps for a national gathering planned for the fall of 2018.
This is a collaborative initiative being led by The Gordon Foundation, Living Lakes Canada, and WWF-Canada.
Columbia Basin, March, 2018 – Today, on March 22, World Water Day turns 25 and Living Lakes Canada is joining countless organizations, governments and people around the world in focusing attention on the importance of water.
“For us, it’s all about watershed stewardship,” said Heather Leschied, Program Manager for Living Lakes Canada. “We encourage our communities through building knowledge and awareness, to take a pro-active approach and protect the healthy, intact watersheds we have in the Columbia Basin.”
In Canada, a week-long celebration of water from coast to coast is held annually in the third week of March to coincide with World Water Day. Canada Water Week, as it’s known, was founded by Living Lakes Canada in partnership with the Canadian Freshwater Alliance, The Gordon Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Across the country groups and individuals are encouraged to get involved by organizing or participating in fun and educational water-related events.
Nurturing a water stewardship ethic is one of the overarching goals of Living Lakes Canada, which helps communities learn to value and protect their watersheds through shoreline conservation, groundwater monitoring and stewardship, CABIN monitoring and training (measuring freshwater ecosystem health with federally standardized methods), and cross-sector engagement.
As world-wide water issues continue to grow, the importance of watershed protection can’t be overstated.
Dr. Hans Schreier, a professor emeritus with the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at UBC and a Living Lakes Canada advisor, is particularly alarmed by the speed at which high altitude lakes are changing with climate change, and the public’s lack of awareness around how the high mountains are warming up much faster than the low lands.
With increased warming comes less run off in rivers, which leads to lower lake water levels, levels that are further depleted by a system of water extraction for agricultural, commercial and industrial uses.
“The question is how much water should be allocated for environmental services?” Schreier asks. “How do you put an economic value on what the river does by nature, maintaining fish and water quality?”
In drought-beleaguered California, government has actually initiated buying back water licenses in order to maintain environmental services.
“So I suspect this is going to happen more and more,” he said. “There’s clear evidence now that the snow melt is occurring earlier in the spring, which means late in the summer you’re going to have less water running and that’s the critical time for environmental services.”
Living Lakes Canada’s focus on watershed protection fits perfectly with the 2018 theme of World Water Day: “Nature for Water – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century”.
“Conservation of our watersheds and learning to protect them for the services they already provide is key,” said Leschied, citing the Columbia Wetlands as an example. “These wetlands are one of the longest intact wetland systems in North America, and the services they provide in terms of flood control, carbon sequestration, pollution filtration, and habitat for fish and wildlife is astounding. The ecosystem services they provide are priceless.”
Living Lakes Canada ended 2017 on a high note, with the incredibly successful Water Data Hub conference in Invermere and an international trip to Colombia to share best practices in community-based water monitoring. 2018 will see the continuation of our Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Program and we’re excited at the prospect of establishing a Water Monitoring Framework for the Basin as the Water Data Hub starts to materialize. See the highlights below and stay tuned for another Living Lakes Canada News Stream update in April.
The Assembly of First Nations held the National Water Symposium and Trade Show in Vancouver February 6-8, 2018, where First Nations delegates, industry, government, academia and community groups gathered from across the country. The Symposium’s focus was on “Reconciliation Through Sustainable Water Management”. The Symposium was the beginning of a dialogue to discuss First Nations across Canada, the repeal of the Safe Water Drinking Act and to gather input of what a re-envisioned engagement process for review of the current act would look like.
After a welcome to the traditional territory by the Musqueam, Squamish and Tseil-Waututh, Dr. David Suzuki presented his introductory keynote: Setting the Bottom Line in the Anthropocene. He spoke of sustainability, the importance of understanding our history and the respect each one of us must pay to our elders in order to understand the importance of living a balanced life. He urged attendees to rethink and to understand what real wealth is all about and the need for a new paradigm going forward.
The three-day Symposium provided examples and case studies of what the implementation of Canada’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and international law as a framework for Reconciliation looks like in regards to co-development of the federal drinking water legislation. The need for collaboration and partnership for legislation, co-governance, First Nations right and title, water management and on-the-ground work including training methods and climate change adaptation were showcased throughout the Symposium.
Other legal tools including Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action implementation and emerging case law on water protection were provided along with the new standards that are available for Indigenous peoples describing their own laws respecting water and potential opportunities to elevate Indigenous laws, knowledge systems, practices, protocols, customs and ways of being and relating to water for collaborative partnerships and a truly equal and respected seat at the decision-making table.
Workshops and discussions throughout the three days included national and regional updates on water initiatives, innovative technology to make safe drinking water on reserves a reality, collaborative water management regimes, and policy development through water strategies examples. On-the-ground projects provided examples of partnership and collaboration to focus on Indigenous peoples’ relationship with water, safe drinking water needs, and capacity development and training. See the full agenda and speakers for the 2018 National Water Symposium here.
The National Water Symposium provided attendees with examples, tools and opportunities for building collaborative relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and programs to be able to move towards Reconciliation through safe drinking water for all.
Groundwater stewardship is central to community water sustainability. Groundwater helps maintain water levels in 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 began a community-based Groundwater Monitoring Program in the Columbia Basin, starting with a pilot project in 2013. Inspired by the Nova Scotia-based project, Groundswell, the Program is the first of its kind in British Columbia. The goals of the Program are to help effectively manage and protect groundwater resources in the Upper Columbia Basin by:
Filling important knowledge gaps about groundwater resources;
Providing information to decision-makers to assist with land use and water planning for sustainable and water smart communities; and
Engaging citizens to develop groundwater knowledge and conservation ethic.
The Program works with local citizens, landowners, community groups, First Nations, and local, regional, and the provincial government to identify and monitor priority aquifers and increase awareness about groundwater stewardship in the Columbia Basin. Currently, twelve priority aquifers have been identified by the province based on vulnerability and relevance for future water management, and water level monitoring data are being collected. These data are analyzed by Living Lakes Canada’s team and partners, and shared with stakeholders to support informed decisions regarding groundwater use and stewardship in the Basin.
In 2018, Living Lakes received a grant from the Columbia Trust to continue the Groundwater Monitoring Program. Other current and past supporters include the Real Estate Foundation of BC, Macleans, the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, McLean Foundation and Sitka Foundation. Long-term data sets are essential for understanding the state groundwater resources, and Living Lakes Canada intends to continue to implement and expand this Program.
If you would like to find out more about the Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Program please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heather Leschied is the Program Manager for Living Lakes Canada and Carol Luttmer is the Groundwater Program Manager for Living Lakes Canada.
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.