Budget 2020 Consultation report recommends water fund for B.C.

Water sustainability emerged as one of the top issues for the Province of British Columbia in the unanimous report on the Budget 2020 Consultation released by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services released today (August 7, 2019).

This milestone for water stewardship in B.C. is due to the hard work and dedication of a consortium of water-focused NGOs and academia led by the POLIS Water Sustainability Project.

Living Lakes Canada Program Manager Avery Deboer-Smith gave a presentation developed by the consortium to the Committee during the budget consultation period. Her presentation highlighted the need for an endowment fund for water sustainability across the province, and this suggestion is included in the report under the section for Environmental Protection and Conservation (p 27):

And the establishment of a water sustainability fund to fund watershed protection work is listed as one of the Committee’s overall recommendations to the B.C. Legislative Assembly (p 31, no. 28): 

Furthermore, in the B.C. Government media release announcing the report on the Budget 2020 Consultation, advancing water sustainability is included in the quote by committee chair Bob D’Eith as a key area for action:

“The committee is grateful to everyone who took the time to share their views and bring attention to the challenges and opportunities facing the province,” said committee chair Bob D’Eith. “Several issues emerged as key areas for action, including providing comprehensive supports to youth formerly in care, and advancing water sustainability.” 

“The importance of collaborative action for water sustainability in B.C. is made evident by the acknowledgement from the province of the importance of addressing the very pressing issue of protecting our most valuable resource,” said Deboer-Smith.  

The  committee heard 276 presentations at 15 public hearings in communities across British Columbia, and received 496 written submissions and 452 responses to an online survey which was based on questions in the Budget 2020 Consultation Paper released by the Minister of Finance on June 3, 2019. 

The budget consultation is typically held every fall. This year, the consultation ran from June 3, 2019 to June 28, 2019 to enable the Committee to deliver its report earlier in the budget process. 

The report is available HERE or visit www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/finance.


STREAM Team brings CABIN training to Canmore

STREAM is a collaboration between Living Lakes Canada, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada and the University of Guelph, which involves the collection of eDNA from rivers across Canada for stream health assessments. Interested individuals and organizations are trained and certified using an adapted CABIN protocol to include eDNA analysis.

By Catherine Paquette, WWF-Canada

On July 16-17, the STREAM team led a CABIN field practicum on the beautiful Bow River in Canmore, Alberta, where 18 people received their certification.

The Canmore group was incredibly diverse and high-capacity: it included university students and researchers, national park staff, professional scientists and consultants, as well as staff and volunteers from local watershed groups and NGOs. This diversity of knowledge and experience allowed for great exchanges of ideas throughout the two-day course. Information was shared not only by the instructor to the participants, but it also flowed from the participants back to the STREAM team. Having participants with such diverse backgrounds really allowed the two-day course to be a dialogue and all participants left with a better understanding of not only the CABIN field protocol but also what kind of work is being done in the water world.

WWF-Canada truly believes that it will take people from all backgrounds to ensure we have a complete picture of freshwater health in Canada. In 2017, WWF-Canada released its Watershed Reports, which was the first national picture of the health of and threats to Canada’s freshwater. One of the major findings was that most of Canada’s watershed were data deficient; the required data to properly assess the rivers and streams either didn’t exist or was made unavailable. Fully 112 of 167 sub-watersheds are data deficient for the benthic invertebrate indicator. One of the main recommendations brought forward by WWF-Canada as a result of this data deficiency was the need to elevate multiple approaches to water monitoring.

While the federal government must be expected to play a significant and leading role in aquatic monitoring, Canada is just too big and diverse for a single organization to be responsible for all of it. Community-based water monitoring (CBWM), alongside academia and local and provincial governments, should be seen as a great opportunity to increase the amount of aquatic data collected, leading to a better understanding of our water resources. Groups across Canada are already taking charge and monitoring their home waters, and through technological advances such as open databases, this is becoming easier than ever.

Another of these technological advances that will benefit CBWM is DNA metabarcoding. This state-of-the-art technology will allow benthic samples collected by CBWM groups to be analyzed much more quickly and with less cost than ever before.

WWF-Canada is excited to be a member of STREAM for that very reason, giving CBWM organizations from across Canada the knowledge, training, and support required for them to be able to not only monitor their own waters but play a critical role in understanding the state of freshwater in Canada.


Whirling disease top of mind for Canmore CABIN course

Living Lakes Canada hosted a two-day stream health assessment course in Canmore, Alberta on July 16-17. There were 18 participants that attended the course to learn data collection techniques for biomonitoring, following the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network protocol.

The Bow Valley watershed (http://watershedreports.wwf.ca/…) has been listed as a red zone for Whirling Disease. Whirling Disease is caused by a parasite that affects salmonid (trout, salmon and whitefish). It uses these fish and an aquatic worm and hosts. Juvenile fish are most susceptible to Whirling disease. Whirling disease causes skeletal deformation and neurological damage. Fish “whirl” like a corkscrew, making them easy prey and not feeding appropriately.

Whirling Disease was detected in the Bow River watershed making it a red zone according to Alberta Environment and Parks (https://www.alberta.ca/whirling-disease.aspx).

During our CABiN course, Living Lakes Canada helped prevent the spread of Whirling disease by following the AEP decontamination protocol. We had the great experience of linking up with one of the decontamination trailers that drove across the province to decontaminate all of our equipment – FREE of charge. We now feel confident bringing our equipment to the next watershed, without any invasive hitch hikers or Whirling disease attached.

For a blog about the Canmore course submitted by WWF-Canada STREAM team member Catherine Paquette click HERE

Well in Brisco added to Groundwater Monitoring Program

Increasing our knowledge about groundwater will help us protect and manage this valuable resource. On July 19, 2019, as part of the Living Lakes Canada Columbia Basin Groundwater Monitoring Program, groundwater level monitoring equipment was installed in this well in Brisco, located in the Columbia Valley on the east side of the Columbia Wetlands between Invermere and Golden.


Columbia Basin Water Collaborative taking shape

By Avery Deboer-Smith (Living Lakes Canada Program Coordinator) and Rory Gallaugher (Living Lakes Canada Hydrometric Technologist)

On June 18th, the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Collaborative’s Steering Committee met in Nelson, BC to provide feedback and guidance on the monitoring framework. The face-to-face meeting had 21 steering committee members, some coming from as far away as Winnipeg.

The Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Collaborative is the current iteration of the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework and Data Hub Initiative that got underway in November 2017 when Living Lakes Canada co-hosted the Cracking the Code in 3D: Water Data Hub and Monitoring Framework conference to envision a Water Monitoring Framework for the Columbia Basin. The conference was a follow up to the 2017 CBT report by Dr. Martin Carver titled Water Monitoring and Climate in the Upper Columbia Basin: Summary of Current Status and Opportunities in order to set the stage for a coordinated water data collection and applied decision making for the Basin.

Presented at the meeting was the research conducted on the database platforms that would best suit the Collaborative’s needs. Progress was made on all agenda items with direction provided by the steering committee for:

  • outlining the specifications of the database by requesting that a wireframe of the database’s functionality be developed,
  • determining scope of the monitoring that will be conducted and the criteria for selecting sites, and
  • the data governance structure.

The committee’s feedback will be incorporated to ensure outcomes are reflective of the diverse groups represented. The Collaborative guidance document will be published by September 2019 once the final draft has been reviewed.

This 50-member collaborative is guided by a cross sector of civil society representing Indigenous and non-Indigenous community, all levels of government, academia and industry, and is funded in part by:

  • Real Estate Foundation of BC
  • Columbia Basin Trust
  • Vancouver Foundation
  • Royal Bank of Canada
  • Sitka Foundation
  • Tides Canada

Lake foreshore preservation success through SHIM


Last month, the B.C. Government turned down a proposal for a 90-berth moorage facility on Lake Windermere in the East Kootenay.

Local newspaper The Columbia Valley Pioneer reported four reasons for the decision:

  1. The first was unmitigated environmental concerns:
    • the marina was proposed in a key habitat area,
    • there was insufficient evidence provided by a qualified environmental professional,
    • and an environmental mitigation strategy or management plan was not provided by the proponent.
  2. The second was impacts to public use, asserting the public would gain no social or economic benefit from such a structure.
  3. The third was First Nations considerations: that the proposed facility would have adverse impacts on Aboriginal interests.
  4. Lastly, that a Land Act authorization would not provide authority to remove private buoys, with no evidence indicating that locating a group moorage facility would result in a reduction in the number of private buoys.

Environmental concerns cited that the marina is in key habitat area, which is known because of the work of the East Kootenay Integrated Lake Management Partnership (EKILMP).

EKILMP completed a Sensitive Habitat Inventory Mapping (SHIM) project on Lake Windermere where shoreline habitat values were assessed, and risk ratings were determined for common shoreline activities. The habitat value for the area in question was determined to be “orange”, and therefore a marina development would pose high risk to fish and wildlife habitat.


Living Lakes Canada, which served as Chair for the EKILMP for 8 years, congratulates the EKILMP and its partners for producing Shoreline Development Guidelines that identify key habitat areas for fish and wildlife, and guide shoreline development activities to protect the areas of highest ecological value.


Similar Shoreline Development Guidelines have been created for 13 lakes, rivers and reservoirs across the Columbia Basin.

2019 Nelson CABIN field practicum largest training yet


Living Lakes Canada (LLC) delivered its first CABIN training course of the 2019 field season in Nelson on June 12-13 using an adapted CABIN protocol to include eDNA analysis. The collection of eDNA from rivers across Canada is part of the new community-based project called STREAM (Sequencing the Rivers for Environmental Assessment and Monitoring), which is a collaboration between Living Lakes Canada, World Wildlife Fund Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada and the University of Guelph to collect data for stream health assessments. Learn more HERE

By LLC Program Manager Raegan Mallison

The Nelson 2019 CABiN field practicum was a success! The course drew 18 participants, the largest course Living Lakes Canada has ever led both in the Nelson area and across Canada.

Participants came from great distances including Utah and Alaska to join the course. We had local stewardship groups join including the staff from Friends of Kootenay Lake, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Lake Windermere Ambassadors. We had participants from industry, academia- professors and students and environmental consultants join us.

The range of experience was across the board, with some being familiar with the CABiN protocol and even helping to assist with monitoring prior to this training, and others brand new to field work.

We were fortunate to have Allison Lutz with Selkirk College join us to assist with teaching and learning the new DNA metabarcoding field techniques and decontamination protocols.

Three Living Lakes Canada summer interns were able to join us for the course. The summer interns will be assisting outreach and logistics planning to support the STREAM project and supporting CABiN users to submit benthic samples for DNA metabarcoding free of charge, not only in the Columbia Basin but across other priority watersheds this field season including: Skeena, Peace/Athabasca, Bow Valley, Alberta and Sudbury, Ontario.

We are excited to have them on board! Welcome Ashley Dubois, Kyle Prince and Lindsay Capito. For more information, check out their profiles on the About Us page on our website under “Team”. Read their first person accounts of participating in their STREAM training below.

We want to send out a big thank you to all those that participated in the 2019 Nelson CABiN training. For other CABiN field practicums this year please visit the LLC website for locations, dates and how to register.

Ashley Dubois, Living Lakes Canada Summer Intern

I am currently a fourth year student at the University of Alberta where I’m working towards a BSc majoring in Biology. The two day CABIN field course in Nelson, BC provided me with a great foundation for aquatic biomonitoring. I know learning the protocol for proper water chemistry sampling and benthic invertebrate collection will benefit me in the future for a range of career paths. There were many people attending the course who had extended knowledge and experience in the aquatics field. This provided an opportunity for networking and brainstorming about aquatics. That being said, I was one among many others who had little to no experience in the field, so this course is truly for anyone interested, regardless of prior experience. The instructors were extremely kind and approachable, as well as knowledgeable, providing a fun learning atmosphere for all participants. After the two days of CABIN field training, I now feel confident and excited to apply my new knowledge to my summer position with Living Lakes Canada.

Kyle Prince, Living Lakes Canada Summer Intern

The CABIN field course in Nelson, B.C. last week was a great way to consolidate all the information I learned during the online modules. It was awesome to have knowledgeable and experienced instructors to interact with and clarify any uncertainties. It was also great to finally get to outside and practice the skills required to complete a proper CABIN study. I enjoyed the wide variety of participants including consultants, NGO employees, professors, and some students too! It was a positive and engaged group which enhanced the course experience. I am excited to use my new certification and get back into the creeks as soon as possible.

Journey to Spain: Perspectives, Passion, and Paella

The venue for the 15th International Conference on Lakes & Wetlands in Valencia, Spain. LLC Photo

By Kootenay Lake Partnership Chair Jayme Jones

In May 2019, Valencia, Spain became the world capital of wetlands when they hosted the Living Lakes 15th International Conference on Lakes and Wetlands. As one of the five Living Lakes Canada members who travelled to Spain to attend, there are three key themes from the conference that stood out to me.

Perspectives. This was the first international conference I have attended that was broadly represented with delegates from around the world. The 200 delegates from 41 countries brought diverse perspectives that really increased my understanding on the state of water systems from every corner of this planet. I heard about peatland management in the Broads of England. I heard about the pollution in Lake Chapala – Mexico’s largest natural lake. I heard about projects to strengthen the condition of St. Lucia wetland in South Africa. Each of these perspectives share a commonality we all face: our water systems are challenged by alterations we have made to them. However, there are things we can do improve the situation.

Passion. There was so much passion shared about the projects that the various delegates are working on to improve their local waterbodies. A delegate from India shared a passionate story about her success in working with communities to restore mangroves in 4,500 hectares of important river mud flats. Not only does this project help sequester carbon dioxide to reduce the impact of climate change. It also empowers women to be Mangrove Stewards to support their livelihoods.  A delegate from Columbia shared a passionate story about his organization’s efforts to create green filters to reduce the domestic wastewater inflow to Lake Fúquene. Each conference delegate was passionate about some specific way to protect water.

The Albufera Ramsar Site. LLC Photo

Paella. Our Spanish hosts gave us a wonderful experience of the local Spanish culture. We had many opportunities to eat the traditional dish of Spain – Paella. Paella is a delicious dish of rice and seafood that is accompanied by a cold Spanish beer. It wasn’t just the Spanish food we were able to experience; we also explored a significant wetland near Valencia called L’Albufera. The Albufera is a managed freshwater lagoon and estuary. It was declared a Ramsar Site in 1990 as a wetland of international importance to birds. The Albufera is surrounded by rice fields that have altered the landscape for centuries. We visited an exciting project within the Albufera that successfully reclaimed some rice fields into wetland habitat. Not only has this reclaimed wetland increased the biodiversity of the landscape, it has also played a key role in purifying the water quality of the lagoon.

Participating in the Living Lakes International conference provided a global vision of water challenges and success stories. The entire Living Lakes Canada team built strong connections with the delegates from around the world. These connections will provide important opportunities for strategic alliances with water stewards around the world. Together, we can do more to conserve the world’s waterbodies, and so we will.

Jayme Jones is a former Program Coordinator for Living Lakes Canada. She now works as a Research Assistant for Selkirk College. 

East Kootenay lakes sampled for long-term trends

Ice-off sampling on Moyie Lake, B.C. LWA Photo

By Shannon McGinty, Lake Windermere Ambassadors Program Coordinator

During the spring freshet of 2019 the Lake Windermere Ambassadors had an opportunity to learn from experienced stewards with the BC Lakes Stewardship Society (BCLSS).

BCLSS was tasked by the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy to conduct standardized ice off sampling on three lakes in the East Kootenays: Lake Windermere, Columbia Lake, and Moyie Lake. This is part of the larger Long-Term Lake Trends Project.

The Ambassadors’ involvement in the project came about when BCLSS reached out to see if we would be interested in partnering for this sampling. As the Ambassador Program Coordinator, I worked with BCLSS President Norm Zirnhelt to coordinate volunteers and equipment prior to sampling, conduct the sampling, and ship the samples off to the lab. Coordination work consisted of:

  • Monitoring the lakes for melting trends
  • Setting a sampling date within two weeks of ice off for all the lakes (harder than it sounds!)
  • Finding and working with volunteers to operate boats on each lake
  • Gathering and ordering required equipment

After coordinating and the lakes melting, we were then able to conduct the sampling. We sampled Lake Windermere and Columbia Lake on April 19th and Moyie Lake on April 20th. Sampling consisted of:

  • Dissolved Oxygen, Temperature, Specific Conductance, and pH Field Profiles (taken every metre up to 20m and every 5 metres thereafter)
  • Sechi and Site Depths
  • Epilimnion and Hypolimnion samples for
  • Phosphorous
  • Nitrogen
  • Sulfate
  • Metals
  • Total Organic Compounds
  • Dissolved Organic Compounds
  • Silica Reactive Dissolve
  • Turbidity
  • Chloride
  • Phytoplankton
  • Zooplankton

The Ambassadors were able to participate in this program by allowing myself as Program Coordinator to contract out to the BCLSS partnership with Living Lakes Canada (LLC).

This provides great value to the Ambassadors as it allows for their staff member to audit their sampling skills and stay up to date on sampling methods by connecting with a professional who has over 30 years of experience in this field.

The timing of this project was perfect as I had just started with the Ambassadors in December 2018, and was about to begin my first sampling season in May 2019, immediately following the hands-on training with BCLSS.

Although the Ambassadors don’t sample all of the parameters sampled on a weekly basis, there was a lot of overlap in methods of collection and monthly sample collections that has been (and continues to be) useful for the 2019 sampling season.

The results from this project have been made public for all users to access through the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy website. The Ambassadors use this data to supplement our own Spring Freshet sampling.

Needs addressed through this project include:

  • In-person contact for training and other aspects of lake management
  • Lake monitoring training and assistance designing an appropriate monitoring program
  • Auditing to correct monitoring procedure issues and maintain quality assurance of data

To learn more about the Lake Windermere Ambassadors and to contact Shannon McGinty, visit their website: www.lakeambassadors.ca


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