A University of British Columbia post doctoral researcher is trying to figure out why water resources in the Columbia Basin seem to be on the decline.

“We’re trying to understand how climate change is going to affect water resources in the Basin,” researcher Janice Branhey told The Echo. “Water does seem to be declining and I want to understand why.”

The spark for Branhey’s research came from a data gap analysis she conducted for the Columbia Basin Trust a few years ago (“there were an alarming number of unknowns,” she said). This summer is seeing her project’s first work on the ground.

The research involves a two-pronged approach. The initial part looks at glacial contribution to lakes in what Branhey calls a space-for-time analysis, examining lakes that have recently lost a glacier feeding into them; lakes that are fed from stable glaciation; lakes that are just about to loose a feeding glacier; and lakes that have not had a feeding glacier for hundreds of years.

Branhey is looking at a number of variables in the lakes affecting water quality, water availability and water ecology, such as temperature, in-flow-evaporation ratios, conductivity, PH, nutrients and species composition.

The other part of the two-pronged approach involves taking sediment cores from lake beds to see how they’ve changed through hundreds of years.

“Both of these approaches together will give us a road map of where we’re going and hopefully will give us an idea of how to correspondingly manage water resources,” said Brahney.

With funding for the project minimal, and so far only enough to last for the project’s first summer, Brahney has recently wrapped up a crowdfunding campaign to help extend the project. In the meantime, she’s seeking citizen volunteers to help her carry out the work.

“Basically, we’re looking for volunteers to help collect precipitation samples, both rain and snow, as well as stream and lake sample from places they hike to throughout the basin,” she said.

To learn more about the project check out janicebrahney.weebly.com/ecohydrology.html or instrumentl.com/campaigns/janicebrahney. To reach Brahney about the volunteer data collection, contact jbrahney@gmail.com .