This is the third of four articles submitted by Living Lakes Canada, the respected Columbia Basin-based water stewardship group that works to monitor and protect Canada’s lakes, rivers, wetlands, and watersheds.
As the Columbia Basin continues to experience the impacts of climate change, there is a mounting need to share water knowledge. Water-related data is used by decision makers to understand watershed health and the sustainability of communities and natural ecosystems.
“As we continue to experience climate change impacts, our water resources are put under stress, so we need to have the necessary knowledge to properly and efficiently adapt when water levels drop,” said Santiago Botero, applied innovation and technology manager for Living Lakes Canada.
The Columbia Basin Water Hub is an online database for all things water related. The aim of the water hub is to provide the public with easy access to water monitoring data and water information relevant to the Columbia Basin in an easy-to-understand and useful manner.
“The Water Hub is a central place where people can share data openly. (It is) also a source of information that allows for better understanding of our watersheds and for water-related decision making within our communities,” said Botero.
The Columbia Basin Water Hub seeks to connect community stewardship groups, Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, government entities, and community water systems, by sharing their data on one network. This helps to support the co-ordination of further monitoring efforts. The water hub is one element of the larger vision, the Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Collaborative, which seeks to create a structured scientific approach to water monitoring in the region based on local priorities. Both projects are currently facilitated by Living Lakes Canada.
With accessible data from over 30 organizations, the water hub has had over 151 water data sets from streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands uploaded to the site since it formally launched in March 2021.
Data is uploaded to the water hub in a consistent format using templates that follow FAIR principles (Finable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable). Data sets include numerical and spatial data, reports, photos and other types of information about streams, lakes, wetlands, groundwater, snow, glaciers and climate in the Columbia Basin, both historical and current.
How does the water hub support local communities? Data shared to the water hub can be used to inform official community plans, regulations, restoration projects, and the creation of water quality objectives. Hydro-metric data is critical for understanding the volume and timing of stream flow (for example, spring run-off). This type of data can provide some of the information needed to support the development of future water budgets (water allocation based on local priorities) for communities and industries, which rely on both surface and groundwater sources.
The water hub data is accessible to anyone. If people want to learn more about the water data on the site, including how to search for data in a particular location, or how to understand the data using the water hub’s built-in tools, they are encouraged to contact Santiago Botero at email@example.com or Paige Thurston, community engagement co-ordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the Columbia Basin Water Hub, visit cbwaterhub.ca.
The final article in this series will focus on one example of data being stored in the Columbia Basin Water Hub based on a number of lake surveys that have been taking place across the Columbia Basin over the past two years.