Proceedings of Columbia Basin water protection conference now available

Conference was held in Invermere last November

The Water data hub conference was held in November in Invermere. Photo by Pat Morrow

On November 29 & 30, 2017 in Invermere, a two-day conference attended by 120 water experts, residents and guests was convened by Living Lakes Canada, Columbia Basin Trust, the Columbia Basin Watershed Network and Selkirk College to explore solutions in response to a February 2017 Columbia Basin Trust report by Dr. Martin Carver (titled Water Monitoring and Climate in the Upper Columbia Basin, Summary of Current Status and Opportunities) that revealed inadequate Columbia Basin water data for managing and protecting the region’s water resources in response to climate change.

The focus of the conference — CRACKING THE CODE IN 3D — was to envision a Water Monitoring Framework that would coordinate water data collection within the Basin, an endeavour particularly relevant to the region’s higher-volume users such as communities and municipalities, hydropower operators, agricultural producers, industrial operations, ski resorts (snowmaking), as well as commercial and residential users. Additionally, conference participants discussed the development of a Columbia Basin Water Data Hub, a digital access point to store Columbia Basin open access water data in a way that supports decision-making across all levels.

Scientists, government officials, industry staff, community groups, First Nations, and technology experts presented best practices examples of water monitoring initiatives, water data hubs and community-based water monitoring from B.C., across Canada and the U.S. A shared understanding about water monitoring frameworks and water data storage needs was coupled with broad agreement that both a Framework and an open access Data Hub are required to meet the needs within the Basin, and that now is the time to move this forward.

“If we intend to address some of the climate-imposed water challenges that will impact ecosystems, communities and industries in the Basin, then we will need to all work together in a much more collaborative, innovative, timely and cost-effective manner,” said Living Lakes Canada Executive Director Kat Hartwig, “and hopefully the outcomes of this conference will be a catalyst for just that.”

Though several challenges were noted by conference participants, such as data ownership and “open” access – a broad ranging topic that includes intellectual property rights, respecting sensitive data such as traditional ecological knowledge, increased access to government and industry data (i.e. environmental assessment projects) and clarity about the meaning of ‘open’ data versus public data — there was consensus that a collaborative open water data platform for the Basin, free of charge and available to everybody, is technologically feasible.

For the full Conference Summary, visit: http://www.livinglakescanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Columbia-Water-Data-Hub-2017-Conference-Summary-FINAL.pdf

For the shorter Executive Summary, visit: http://www.livinglakescanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Water-Data-Hub-Executive-Summary.pdf

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