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Traditional Knowledge and Scientific Data Education, Comparison and Collaboration in Northeast BC Surface Water Use

Lead Researcher(s):  S. Lapp, D. Cottrell, E.G. Johnson

Key Researcher(s):  T. Van Dijk

Project ID:  2019-018

Key Research Organization(s):  BC Oil and Gas Commission, Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, Shell Canada Ltd.

Project Location:  Northeast BC

Strategic Focus Area:  Water


This project is one of three contributing to the Pilot Collaborative Water Monitoring Program, Northeast BC.  This project is the first step in utilization of both Traditional Knowledge and Western data relating to water in BC’s Northeast Region. Specifically, this project is bringing together researchers and Indigenous representatives from the Treaty 8 First Nations in BC’s Northeast Region to collect surface water quantity and quality data from the Traditional Knowledge perspective. The Traditional Knowledge will be integrated with the Western scientific data collected under the project Northeast BC Hydrometric Monitoring Network Improvements. In addition the Traditional Knowledge perspective will be compared to Western scientific data with respect to water availability decision making to identify where perspectives align and potentially diverge.

Visit program page to learn more about the series.

View Pilot Collaborative Water Monitoring Program, Northeast BC


Specifically, this project would like to:

  • Work with Indigenous communities to select sites of interest for monitoring surface water and groundwater in northeast BC;
  • Collaborate with Indigenous communities to collect Traditional Knowledge at selected sites;
  • Install up to two hydrometric stations, to augment up to four hydrometric stations being installed by the Northeast BC Hydrometric Monitoring Network Improvements project;
  • Assess the gap, if any, between Traditional Knowledge observations and Western science, with the goal of an eventual common understanding between the two types of data; and
  • Share results of the pilot project findings in a presentation to Treaty 8 First Nations.


This work is considered the first phase in a longer collaborative process. The project will improve future water management decisions and promote collaboration with First Nations, helping to address their concerns with current water management.

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


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