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Northeast Water Strategy (NEWS) Hydrometric Monitoring Program

Lead Researcher(s):  M. Chiarandini

Project ID:  2016-048

Key Research Organization(s):  Kerr Wood Leidal Associates Ltd.

Project Location:  Northeast BC

Strategic Focus Area:  Water


This project collected and shared water data in the Horn River Basin and South Peace region to improve industry practices and to provide the information required to make informed decisions about water and natural gas extraction.

The Need

The Horn River basin is one of the most significant natural gas basins in North America. It covers an area roughly the size of Jamaica (11,000 km2) and spans 42 major watersheds.

Knowledge of aquifers for water use and disposal is vital for the responsible extraction of natural gas in the Horn River Basin. The data collected by this project can be used by First Nations, government, industry and local communities to better understand the availability of water resources and the impact upon them of natural gas extraction in the region. Geoscience BC has been working in the Horn River basin since 2009. This phase of work started in 2011 and expanded the water monitoring network into the South Peace Region. (Click here to view Horn River Basin project page).

Project Goals

The primary goal of this baseline monitoring program was to characterize and share information about surface water and to collect water flow data. Objectives were:

  • To build and maintain knowledge and data about water resources and their relationship to natural gas extraction in northeastern BC.
  • To collect accurate water flow and water quality data to increase knowledge of baseline conditions.
  • To enable sustainable water use during extraction of natural gas.
  • To provide the data required for informed decisions by the Horn River Basin Producers Group (HPBPG), the BC Oil and Gas Commission and First Nations — specifically the Fort Nelson and Acho Dene Koe First Nations.

Project Benefits

Data generated by the Horn River Basin projects enables responsible natural gas extraction in the region by ensuring natural gas extraction only takes place in appropriate locations.

For 2016, monitoring stations were updated so that all sites provide real-time data and locations.

Survey Area

The project covered seven sites in the Horn River Basin. For 2016 these were:
Ongoing sites:

  • D’Easum Creek
  • Dilly Creek
  • Kiwigana River
  • Sahtaneh Creek

Note: In 2017, Fort Nelson First Nation has taken on management of these stations (see news release) and will report results through the Mackenzie DataStream portal (

New sites in the South Peace Region in 2016:

  • West Kiskatinaw River
  • East Kiskatinaw River
  • Lynx Creek

How was data collected?

A list of sites for monitoring was agreed between Geoscience BC, the BC Oil and Gas Commission and project proponents Kerr Wood Leidal (KWL) and Peace Country Technical Services (PCTS).

Seven stations that had been monitored by KWL and PCTS from 2011 to 2015 were reviewed, with a recommendation to move three stations to new locations in the Kiskatinaw River Watershed, close to Dawson Creek. At the same time, it was recommended that these stations were upgraded to provide real-time data consistent with the stations staying in place. The real-time stations consist of a data logger fixed inside an enclosure and placed beside the stream bank above the maximum flood level. Stage (water elevation) data from the streams is collected using pressure transducers inserted into protective metal sleeves and inserted into the stream bed/bank. Real-time data was uploaded every six hours, with data from each site reviewed alongside field notes and Stage Discharge Relationship data to ensure quality and consistency. All work was conducted the Manual of British Columbia Hydrometric Standards ‘Grade A’.