The Kootenay Conservation Program (KCP) in partnership with the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) provide funding for projects that benefit conservation in the area from Spillimacheen to Canal Flats through the Columbia Valley Local Conservation Fund (CVLCF).

The purpose of the CVLCF is to provide local financial support for important projects that will contribute to the conservation of our valuable natural areas; one step towards restoring and preserving a healthy environment.

This month’s CVLCF feature project is Groundwater Monitoring by Living Lakes Canada and a project of Wildsight. Project partners include Lake Windermere Ambassadors, Province of BC, Real Estate Foundation of BC and Columbia Basin Trust.

In 2013, Living Lakes Canada collaborated with the Lake Windermere Ambassadors on a community groundwater monitoring pilot project in the communities of Invermere and Windermere. A key project objective was to generate data on groundwater levels for use by the District of Invermere as they implement their Groundwater Protection Plan. The overall goal of the pilot project was to empower local communities to engage in water resource management. This was accomplished by educating members of the communities about groundwater dynamics, participation in hands-on citizen science, and by increasing the available data on groundwater within the communities.

The project identified wells that had been drilled to provide drinking water, but which were currently not in use. The wells were fit with a level logger and barologger to measure groundwater levels and air pressure respectively. Volunteers from the local area visited the wells monthly to take a manual water level measurement and upload water level data onto a portable “data shuttle.” This groundwater level data has been graphed and analyzed on an on-going basis to identify changes and trends. The data has also been used to look into the relationship with precipitation and the potential relationship with surface water.

The baseline data collected by this project, along with data collected through continued monitoring will be critical to assessing the availability of groundwater and the ongoing implementation the District of Invermere’s Groundwater Protection Plan. Data collected through this project will also assist the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations with water license allocations under the new Groundwater Regulations in the Water Sustainability Act. The project also achieved success by engaging and training community volunteers to regularly collect water level data.

The Invermere Pilot Project success has led to an expansion of the project into a larger pilot project to target 11 other aquifers within the Columbia River Basin in: Blewett, Cranbrook area (3), Golden, Castlegar (2), Wardner, Kootenay Lake Duhamel Creek area, Creston, and South Slocan. This portion of the project is still being developed, with one of the main challenges being finding unused wells in the aquifers. Living Lakes Canada is still looking to identify unused wells in Golden, Wardner, Castlegar (Selkirk College area), and Kootenay Lake Duhamel Creek area.