Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework
Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework
REGISTER FOR 2023 PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
After a successful pilot implementation in 2022, the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework is expanding to include two new areas: the Upper Kootenay Hydrologic Region and the Lower Columbia-Kootenay Hydrologic Region.
Community members are invited to share their knowledge, concerns and priorities for water monitoring in these regions. To provide input, please contact your Local Reference Group Coordinator, or register to attend a community meeting.
Upper Kootenay (see map)
- The Upper Kootenay Community Meetings have concluded. REGISTER to provide your feedback directly.
- For more info, contact Nowell Berg, Upper Kootenay Local Reference Group Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lower Columbia-Kootenay (see map)
- The Lower Columbia-Kootenay Community Meetings have concluded. REGISTER to provide your feedback directly.
- Contact Bill Coedy, Lower Columbia-Kootenay Local Reference Coordinator: email@example.com
The goal of the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework is to establish a unified monitoring network to support the tracking and understanding of climate impacts on water supply for communities and ecosystems. It will support local and regional climate adaptation efforts and support the longer term viability of natural ecosystems and ecosystem services.
Climate change is the most critical issue impacting water management in the Columbia River Basin. Freshwater sources for agriculture, fisheries, power generation, Indigenous People and urban users are dependent on glaciers and snowpacks, which are declining. Climate impacts are resulting in extreme temperature and precipitation, flooding, fire events and diminishing glaciers.
Existing water monitoring networks are insufficient to track and understand these impacts. The goal of the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework is to establish a unified monitoring framework based on a Priority Monitoring Matrix that reflects local priorities within a scientific water balance approach that will help inform future local water budgeting needs and climate adaptation options for communities.
Using an innovative methodology developed by senior hydrologists and climate change and ecosystem experts, Living Lakes Canada has piloted this project in 2022 within three areas in the Canadian Columbia Basin. The long term goal is to scale and expand this model across the entire Basin region and as a template for other regions as well.
READ OUR 2022 PILOT IMPLEMENTATION REPORT
The critical issues of water resource management amid climate change impacts in the Upper Columbia Basin have been identified in a series of reports from the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) dating back to 2006. These reports highlighted the requirement to increase monitoring and research to more appropriately understand climate impacts, while developing a collective, large-scale effort to prepare communities and industry for change.
- Preliminary Analysis of Climate Variability and Change in the Canadian Columbia River Basin: Focus on Water Resources (PCIC, 2006)
- Climate Extremes in the Canadian Columbia Basin: A Preliminary Assessment (PCIC, 20013)
- Water Monitoring and Climate in the Upper Columbia Basin, Summary of Current Status and Opportunities (CBT, 2017)
Living Lakes Canada began implementing report recommendations in 2017 by holding a conference that brought together 120 water data experts to discuss what a water monitoring framework and an accompanying open source water data hub would look like for the Canadian Columbia Basin. Living Lakes Canada then led the collaborative multi-year development process, involving volunteer and paid steering committee members, various agencies, industry, academia, First Nations and community organizations, and in 2021, launched the Columbia Basin Water Hub, which serves as a central platform to access water data in the region.
The groundwork for a monitoring framework was established when Living Lakes Canada convened a meeting of senior hydrologists from government, consulting agencies, and academia, who reached consensus that a water balance approach was needed to fill the water data gaps in the Columbia Basin. Guided by the meeting outcomes, Living Lakes Canada contracted local experts to develop the Priority Monitoring Matrix methodology in 2021, outlined in the Terms of Reference document:
- Developing a Priority Matrix to Expand Water Monitoring in the Upper Canadian Columbia Basin: Steps for Pilot Implementation.
PRIORITY MONITORING METHODOLOGY
In accordance with the methodology, Local Reference Groups with broad cross-sector engagement are established in each Hydrologic Region (this two-page Local Reference Group Backgrounder provides a detailed overview). Through a multi-faceted public engagement approach (online workshops, online interactive maps and surveys, one-on-one consultations and in-person meetings), Local Reference Group participants identify key community concerns and priorities. Geospatial data gap analysis is also completed to identify priority areas for monitoring from a scientific perspective. The Local Reference Group feedback and scientific results are combined to build a Priority Monitoring Matrix to guide selection of watersheds to monitor. Given limited resources but substantive monitoring needs, the Priority Monitoring Matrix methodology ensures that site selection and monitoring address both community and scientific priorities in a nested, cost-effective manner.
2022 PILOT IMPLEMENTATION
In 2022, we piloted this innovative approach to water monitoring in three areas (see the Pilot Report here):
- Mid-Columbia Kootenay - map (North Kootenay Lake/Slocan Valley in the West Kootenay)
- Columbia-Kootenay Headwaters - map (Columbia Valley in the East Kootenay)
- Elk River Valley - map (in the East Kootenay - in partnership with the Elk River Alliance)
A data gap analysis was completed (see the detailed Technical Report here) in the pilot regions in Spring 2022, followed by broad cross-sector engagement with Local Reference Groups to capture community priorities and concerns. Once the priority monitoring sites were selected based on this extensive public engagement and scientific analysis, equipment installation began in July 2022.
Preliminary data from the pilot project will be available on the Columbia Basin Water Hub in early 2023. The data can then be used by community members, researchers, the private sector and all levels of government to inform water management and stewardship decisions.
For more information on the ongoing monitoring efforts in these regions, please contact the Local Reference Group Coordinator:
- Mid Columbia-Kootenay: Richard Johnson - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Columbia-Kootenay Headwaters: Wendy Booth - email@example.com
- Elk River Valley: Anne-Caroline Kroeger - firstname.lastname@example.org
SCALING UP FOR THE FUTURE
The full implementation of the Framework will see the program delivered in all 10 hydrologic regions of the Upper Canadian Columbia Basin over 10 years.
In June 2020, a University of British Columbia study was published, Detecting the Effects of Sustained Glacier Wastage on Streamflow in Variably Glacierized Catchments, suggesting the glacier-melt contributions to August runoff have already passed peak water in the Canadian Columbia Basin. The analysis indicates that there is a clear declining trend, which can have implications for streamflow forecasting and summer water temperature response during hot, dry weather (see the BC Drought Map) for current conditions.
The increased frequency of extreme events and the projected decreases in low flows both suggest urgency for a more comprehensive monitoring network of this kind to be implemented in order to understand the hydrological and water quality changes, and to mitigate and adapt to the growing risks of changes in flow regimes.
By developing the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework as a template that can be used in the regions across Canada, Living Lakes Canada aims to support communities across Canada in adapting to the impacts of climate change on water supply, ensuring long-term food security, ecosystem health, community safety and economic vitality. The data generated will inform decision making around water quality and quantity on a national scale.
If you are interested in learning more and collaborating on this project, please email Living Lakes Canada Program Manager Paige Thurston: email@example.com
See Paige's profile.
Status - Active
|GroundwaterLakesRivers, Creeks and StreamsSnowWetlands|
|British ColumbiaColumbia Basin|
|AcademiaCommunity groupsFirst NationsForestryGovernment – FederalGovernment – ProvincialIndustryMunicipalityRegional District|
|Types of Work|
|Citizen ScienceCommunity Based MonitoringDataMonitoringProtocol Development|
News and Updates
- Help identify water concerns in your community – E-KNOW.ca, Jan 27 2023
- 2022 Pilot Implementation Report: Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework – Living Lakes Canada, Dec 19 2022
- The Climate Crisis is a Water Crisis: Monitoring for Adaptation in the Columbia Basin – The Rossland Telegraph, Dec 1 2022
- Local experts call for more West Kootenay data to adapt to climate change – Nelson Star, Oct 24 2022
- B.C. investment in watershed security offers hope – E-KNOW.ca, Apr 23 2022
- Watershed Security in the Canadian Columbia Basin: Using Science to Inform Governance – Flow Monitor, Apr 2022
- Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Collaborative moving toward implementation – Living Lakes Canada, June 28 2021
- A water monitoring framework for the Upper (Canadian) Columbia Basin – Living Lakes Canada, Oct 8 2020
- Experts collaborate on Columbia Basin Water Data Hub initiative – Living Lakes Canada, Dec 12 2018
- Proceedings of Columbia Basin water framework conference now available – Living Lakes Canada, Feb 14 2018
- For a complete list of news features, visit our In The News page!
- Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework: Pilot Implementation Report 2022
- Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework Executive Summary (two-pager)
- Geospatial Analysis for the Pilot Priority Matrix Technical Report
- Local Reference Groups Backgrounder (two-pager)
- Developing a Priority Monitoring Matrix (Steps for Pilot Implementation: Terms of Reference)
- Developing a Priority Monitoring Matrix (Budget Estimates)
- Senior Hydrologists Workshop Proceedings (2020)
- Open Source Data Dialogue Conference Summary (2017)
- Expanding Water Monitoring in the Canadian Columbia Basin Backgrounder - Lower Columbia-Kootenay Local Reference Group
- Expanding Water Monitoring in the Canadian Columbia Basin Backgrounder - Upper Kootenay Local Reference Group