WWF-Canada and Canadian water groups join forces to modernize water monitoring with better data

New water monitoring movement addresses how lack of data is a major obstacle to Canada's ability to protect water

BANFF, AB, Nov. 1, 2016 /CNW/ - We live in a data driven world, but the information needed to understand the health of our freshwater ecosystems and the threats they face is missing or inaccessible, making it impossible to protect this vital resource.

At today's North American Lakes Management Society Symposium in Banff, Alberta, water scientists, environmental NGOs and community organizations are meeting to start a dialogue on how citizen science can play a role in protecting freshwater. Water data collected through citizen-science efforts is already led by communities, and can play a key role in understanding our freshwater health when scientific rigour is applied.

WWF-Canada is working with community groups to design a new national water-monitoring framework that includes community-monitoring programs able to respond and adapt to Canada's water challenges.

Investing in a national framework that includes community-based monitoring will:

  • Address data deficiency in a geographically diverse and jurisdictionally fragmented landscape.
  • Create baseline data to provide long-term understanding of our freshwater ecosystems so that evidence-based decision-making for water management can occur.
  • Increase the amount of data being shared in public databases.
  • Provide a co-ordinated and collaborative monitoring system that will give essential water data to federal and provincial governments, water scientists, industry and community organizations.
  • Build a shared responsibility for the care of our shared water resources.

David Schindler, Killam Memorial professor of ecology emeritus at University of Alberta, says:
"Lack of government action has been a real problem in dealing with all water issues. Well-designed citizen science is a step in the right direction as it will allow people to become more informed about the causes of water problems and do their part to prevent them." David Schindler, Killam Memorial professor of ecology emeritus at University of Alberta.

Kat Hartwig, Executive Director, Living Lakes Canada, says:
"Through our Living Lakes Canada initiative we've seen how communities want to be empowered to take care of the water they depend on. There are challenges faced by community monitoring efforts big and small, but with guidance and a set framework that includes robust protocols, we can harness the power of community groups. We have seen the potential of what community-based monitoring efforts can do from the work we're doing training stewardship groups across the country, such as  the Keepers of the Athabasca who are helping to inform WWF-Canada's Watershed Reports."

Elizabeth Hendriks, WWF-Canada vice-president of freshwater conservation, says:
"As a country, we can't plan for a future with a clean and healthy environment if we don't know the health of our waters. Canadians can lead the way towards healthy waters by ensuring we get the data we need to understand and protect our rivers and lakes by investing in the creation of a national framework that includes community-based monitoring. It's a critical first step in protecting our freshwater ecosystems for the wildlife and people that depend on them."

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About World Wildlife Fund Canada
WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more info visit wwf.ca

SOURCE WWF-Canada

For further information: Rowena Calpito, communications specialist, rcalpito@wwfcanada.org, +1 416-489-4567 ext 7267

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