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Kiskatinaw River Watershed Investigation Supporting the Montney Water Project

Lead Researcher(s):  J. Sui

Project ID:  2010-007

Key Research Organization(s):  University of Northern British Columbia

Project Location:  Northeast BC

Strategic Focus Area:  Water

Summary



This collaborative project, developed by the City of Dawson Creek, University of Northern British Columbia, and the BC Ministry of Environment, was designed to collect additional surface water and groundwater data to more fully define the Kiskatinaw Watershed hydrologic processes and water availability. This project was incorporated into Geoscience BC's Montney Water Project because of the importance of the Kiskatinaw River Watershed (KRW) as a water source for natural gas development and the requirement for a better understanding of the water availability and quality in the region to effectively balance the needs of industrial water users with local water users.

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Research Statement

The Montney Play in British Columbia’s Northeast Region is a world-class unconventional natural gas resource. Water is an essential component of shale gas development and is used for drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fraccing or fracking, is a process where a mixture of water and sand is injected into the deep shale at a high pressure to create small cracks in the rock which allows gas to flow.

In 2010, the Montney Water Project (MWP) was kicked off in Northeast BC to complete an inventory and digital compilation of publicly available information on water in the Montney Play area. This component of the Water Project focused on improving the understanding of the hydrology of the KRW. The Kiskatinaw River serves as the drinking water source for the City of Dawson Creek. The Montney Water Project funded the first year of this work.

Goals

The goal of this project was to better understand the factors affecting flow and water availability in the KRW.

Benefits

This project gives a better ability for the City of Dawson Creek to ensure water supply safety.

Location Details

This project took place in the Montney Play in BC’s Northeast Region in the City of Dawson Creek.

What was Found?

The main objective of the study was to quantify current and future available water quantity and quality in the KRW. This was achieved by several means, including: selecting and calibrating a hydrologic model for the KRW; analyzing land use and land cover change in the KRW; and modeling the impacts of future climate change on groundwater-surface water interaction and baseflow quantification in the KRW.

Northern BC communities depend on the available water resources for drinking water supply and other activities. For sustainable water resources management, it is crucial to balance water utilization from various stakeholders against available water resources at the watershed level. The research undertaken here comprehensively examines the water resources issues in the KRW through field studies and numerical model developments, which will help the oil and gas industry better plan its natural gas exploration activities. Knowing the variations of water quantity and quality under different land use and climate change scenarios will aid in minimizing the effect of natural gas development on water resources in the KRW.

Deliverables