Awarded to Kootenay Watershed Science (previously known as North Kootenay Lake Water Monitoring Project), to collect scale-appropriate climate data that will enable and informed land-use response in the face of climate change to better conserve and restore ecosystems, support sustainable community development, and prepare for increased hazards.

PROPONENT: North Kootenay Lake Water Monitoring Project and then Living Lakes Canada

DESCRIPTION: The impacts of climate change and the need to better understand how climate change is affecting surface water is increasingly apparent. In the Kootenay Watershed Science (KWS) study area, significant landslides or debris floods occurred in 2012, 2013 and 2017. The need for adequate data to better plan, prepare and respond to changing climate impacts is recognized in communities and across all sectors and sets the stage for the integration of KWS data into conservation and aquatic remediation projects.

The number of hydrometric stations has significantly decreased across the Columbia Basin over recent decades, while demand on terrestrial and aquatic resources continues to grow. The absence of a comprehensive dataset creates conservation and community challenges because the data available from government sources does not capture the environmental changes underway in a changing climate. As a result, important decisions about land-use planning, water use, stewardship, forest management, aquatic habitat, and emergency preparedness are being made without appropriate data to support and inform them. Climate change impacts are already having profound effects on the Kootenay Lake region, leaving communities and ecosystems vulnerable.

The KWS hydrometric, snow, precipitation and temperature monitoring project, builds an essential understanding of small- and medium-sized watersheds to determine how they may be impacted by a changing climate.

OBJECTIVE: Kootenay Watershed Science’s objectives are to: maintain and expand the project’s network of stream and temperature monitoring stations to fill gaps in our understanding of watersheds in the region; maintain low and high elevation climate stations that provide us with in-depth information about precipitation, temperature, and snow accumulation in the region; and expand programming to monitor the health of alpine lakes and assessing their contribution to streamflow in creeks. All data will be available through Living Lakes Canada’s Columbia Basin Water Hub and the Aquarius Web Portal.

MESSAGE FROM THE PROPONENT: Kootenay Watershed Science (KWS) is building an in depth understanding of Kootenay watersheds that will enable us to make the right decisions to keep our communities and ecosystems healthy and safe in a changing climate. Through monitoring snow depths, temperature, precipitation and stream flow, and alpine lake health and function in small watersheds around Kootenay Lake, we are building the dataset that will enable us to make the right choices for our future.

PHOTOS: Kootenay Watershed Science

NKLWMP on Facebook

See this short video for an overview of Kootenay Watershed Science.

Greg Utzig with the Kootenay Centre for Forestry Alternatives presented on this project as part of the 2020 KCP Virtual Spring Tour held on June 22, 2020 featuring five projects that receive funding from the Kootenays’ two Local Conservation Funds.