The BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources’ 2019 Scientific Review of Hydraulic Fracturing in British Columbia report includes a recommendation to increase water quantity and quality monitoring in BC’s Northeast Region. Concerns of Treaty 8 First Nations regarding water quality and quantity were also highlighted in the report, along with a need to incorporate Traditional Knowledge into work in the area. The Pilot Collaborative Water Monitoring Program, Northeast BC aims to collect water quantity and water quality data to address recommendations in the report, as well as provide data for further uses such as groundwater-surface water interaction studies and watershed water balance studies. The Program hopes to work with Treaty 8 First Nations within the study area to collect Traditional Knowledge data, as well as to provide training for First Nations in the collection of scientific data.
The Pilot Collaborative Water Monitoring Program, Northeast BC projects fit under Geoscience BC’s Strategic Objective of ‘Understanding Water’ and our goal:
- Measuring local and regional water balance.
They also fit under Geoscience BC’s Strategic Objective of ‘Demonstrating Research Value and Building Broader Support’ and our goal:
- Increase collaboration with Indigenous groups and undertake relevant Geoscience BC research that fosters their socioeconomic development, while also supporting our objectives.
The specific goals for each of the three elements can be found on each individual project page:
- Northeast BC Hydrometric Monitoring Network Improvements
- Traditional Knowledge and Scientific Data Education, Comparison and Collaboration in Northeast BC Surface Water Use
- Coordinated Groundwater, Surface Water and Climate Monitoring Program, Northeast BC
In addition to collecting baseline data recommended in the Scientific Review of Hydraulic Fracturing in British Columbia report, this program aims to combine the data from both Western science and Traditional Knowledge from Treaty 8 First Nations in the study area, and to build local capacity for monitoring surface water, groundwater and climate for future work.
As well as developing capacity and creating new monitoring opportunities for Treaty 8 First Nations, the Program provides an opportunity for the Nations to have a say in – and access to – research that informs water use and resource development decisions in their traditional territory. The projects provide an opportunity for Traditional Knowledge to be included alongside other data when assessing watershed health.
The inclusion of Western science and Traditional Knowledge data will help to more accurately inform water management decisions, and will provide additional and helpful data to the Northeast Water Tool (NEWT), which is used to support water management decisions.
The new public data generated by the Pilot Collaborative Water Monitoring Program, Northeast BC is improving the understanding of surface water quantity, quality and availability in the region, as well as providing supporting groundwater and climate data to begin assessing watershed water balances and groundwater-surface water interaction for regulators, energy companies, communities, Indigenous groups and academia. This pilot program will be used to assess the methodology proposed, including the use of Traditional Knowledge, and use any lessons learned in expanding and/or adapting this type of project work in the future, as well as further developing relationships with the First Nations involved.
Northeast Region, British Columbia