Water conference hosts leading experts from across North America

The formation of an accessible and comprehensive data hub essential for the future of the Columbia Basin

A conference to explore collective ideas on how to create a monitoring framework to protect water in the Columbia Basin is on its way to Copper Point Resort in the form of a revolutionary discussion.

The aim of the event will be to strategize through an open dialogue with a host of experts from across North America to find a way to integrate the region’s water knowledge through a freely accessible open source data that will be reliable, practical, and essential to help the community address water challenges in relation to climate change.

“Climate change and understanding the hydrology changes in the Columbia Basin will impact all of us,” said Living Lakes Canada executive director Kat Hartwig.

Data is currently being collected by a lot of different groups but it’s an incomplete picture, with data gaps that are impeding water allocation decisions, according to Ms. Hartwig.

The idea to create a framework was formulated in February, 2017 after Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) released a report by hydrologist expert Dr. Martin Carver “Water Monitoring and Climate in the Upper Columbia Basin, Summary of Current Status and Opportunities” that revealed Basin water data was inadequate for managing and protecting the region’s water resources in response to climate change. The report will be showcased at the conference.

According to the report, federal and provincial governments have reduced their hydrometric monitoring and the existing monitoring networks are outdated going back to methods used before the need for regional climate impacts monitoring arose.

“The current network does not represent an ideal configuration for tracking and understanding the full range of implications of climate change on water supply for Basin ecosystems and people,” said Dr. Carver.

A user-friendly platform that supports decision making is the big objective of an organized data system, while helping to complete the picture of what’s going on in the Basin.

The conference will create the unique opportunity for the community to engage in the formation of a new and more comprehensive data system while gaining a better understanding of what is required for municipal water use, flow required for fish and wetland ecosystems, and the potential impacts to recreation, tourism and farming with 30 experts in tow.

“The time is now, when it comes to climate change, not later,” said Dr. Carver, who mentioned that from over a thousand glaciers in the region, only four were currently being monitored.

Having access to a comprehensive data base will help inform scientific understanding and stewardship of water sources, including the availability, quality and appropriate use for community water supplies, fish habitat, hydropower, food production, fire protection and recreation among a multitude of applications and considerations, according to Dr. Carver.

“The availability of up-to-date water monitoring data has become increasingly important for effective planning and management, including long-term investments in land use and infrastructure, community water supply and ecosystem stewardship. This is happening on a global level and this type of model is invaluable to achieving desirable outcomes,” said Dr. Carver.

The conference will explore source data currently trending on a global scale in citizen, scientist, academic and government industries, while going over best practices already in use across Canada and the U.S.

“Right now we don’t have a clear picture of the implications in respect to climate change and it’s important to empower and engage the community in solutions,” said Living Lakes Canada water program manager Heather Leschied. “We will have a shared understanding regarding water monitoring and water data storage needs from the perspectives of government (all levels) including First Nations, community water stewardship groups, industry sectors and academia.”

The community is invited to enjoy a host of presentations and impressive key note speakers while contributing to the discussion on the future of local water. Bursaries and day rates for locals as well as discounts for those interested in day-time only presentations are available. Dinner tickets are also available and will include a Keynote Speaker on water stewardship. For more information and to register, livinglakescanada.ca/news/cracking-the-code/.

The conference is set to take place from November 29th-30th at Copper Point Resort.

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