New Water Research Program to Create Important Data; Include Indigenous Traditional Knowledge

Vancouver and Fort St. John, BC – February 23, 2021 – A new water research program will gather Western science and Indigenous Knowledge data to increase understanding of water quality and water quantity in the Peace region.

The Pilot Collaborative Water Monitoring Program, Northeast BC will install co-located surface water monitoring stations, groundwater wells and climate monitoring stations. Baseline water quantity, water quality, and climate data will be collected at a number of sites and assessed for watershed water balances, surface water flows, and groundwater-surface water interactions. The program team will work with Treaty 8 First Nations to help integrate Western scientific findings and Indigenous Knowledge.

The program addresses recommendations to increase water quantity and quality from the provincial government’s  2019 Scientific Review of Hydraulic Fracturing in British Columbia. The report highlighted Treaty 8 First Nations’ concerns regarding water quality and quantity, along with a need to incorporate Traditional Knowledge into work in the area.

The projects are led by researchers from the BC Oil and Gas Commission (Commission), Matrix Solutions, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, and Shell Canada Ltd. Teams from Blueberry River First Nations, Doig River First Nation, Halfway River First Nation, McLeod Lake Indian Band, Saulteau First Nations and West Moberly First Nations have been invited to join the program. Participating First Nations will receive data collection, sampling and station maintenance training.

The independent data and reports from the program will be peer-reviewed and made publicly available. Specifically, the surface water data will be incorporated as part of an updated Northeast Water Tool (NEWT), one of the resources used by the Commission to consider water licence and short-term use applications. Data from the program can also be used for further groundwater-surface water interaction studies and watershed water balance studies.

Fort St. John Business Roundtable: Geoscience BC – Peace Region Water Research Projects
Researchers from the Pilot Collaborative Water Monitoring Program, Northeast BC and the ongoing Peace Region Scientific Groundwater Monitoring Network Installation Study will be available to answer questions at an upcoming Fort St. John Chamber of Commerce online event.

When: March 4, 2021 from 10:00 am to 11:00 am MST (9:00 am to 10:00 am PST)

Register here

Accessing Information
View the Pilot Collaborative Water Monitoring Program project page for more information.

View project page


Geoscience BC Executive Vice President & Chief Scientific Officer Carlos Salas: “Geoscience BC is proud to support the Pilot Collaborative Water Monitoring Program, Northeast BC. This innovative study will be an important first step into understanding how Traditional Knowledge can be integrated into water management decisions in a region where there is significant demand on water for agriculture, natural gas production, domestic and other uses.”

Commission: “The Commission looks forward to leading part of this project and collaborating with other provincial ministries and local Treaty 8 First Nations within the study area to build our collective water knowledge,” said Commission Hydrologist Suzan Lapp. “The information gathered will be used to improve water decision making models and continue to build relationships between the Commission and the Indigenous communities.”

Nathan Paul Prince, Traditional Land Use Coordinator, McLeod Lake Indian Band: “Water has a spiritual nature to our people. Some waters are home to our myth Spirits and channel our voices as echoes, memories and more. This program is a helpful step because it gathers Traditional Knowledge and explores how it can be considered alongside Western science in decision making.”

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For more information, please contact:
Richard Truman
Geoscience BC

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