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Research and information needs assessment to support sustainable watershed management in northeast British Columbia

Author(s) or contact(s): S. Lapp, T. Redding, K. Ronneseth, and D. Wilford
Source: Forests, Lands, and NR Operations
Subject: Hydrology, Watershed Management
Series: Technical Report
Other details:  Published 2015. Hardcopy is available.


Resource development in northeast British Columbia is resulting in increased pressure on water resources. The concurrent development of multiple resources in a remote and diverse landscape has led to many questions about the state of water resources and how to manage them in a sustainable manner. To help identify specific knowledge gaps and develop strategic priorities for research, an information needs assessment was conducted by surveying key people involved in water research and management in northeast British Columbia. In total, 65 respondents completed the survey and identified priority topics for research, monitoring, tools, and policy.

Priority research needs consistently identified by respondents included the following:

  • water balance research that quantifies fluxes (e.g., evapotranspiration, recharge) and storage (e.g., groundwater, lakes, wetlands) for the range of landscapes and land cover types (e.g., wetlands, upland forests, ponds) present in northeast British Columbia. Due to differences in physiography and climate between the northeast and other regions of British Columbia, knowledge gained from long-term watershed research in other areas may not be directly transferrable;
  • development and testing of methods/models for defining environmental flow needs;
  • aquifer identification and characterization to quantify the availability and extent of groundwater resources;
  • climate change effects on all aspects of water resources, aquatic ecology, and natural hazards; and
  • development of methods for quantifying cumulative effects of resource development and land use change on water quantity and quality.

Most respondents identified the need for baseline monitoring of surface and groundwater quantity and quality along with climate data. Currently, the lack of data is seen as an impediment to sustainable water management in northeast British Columbia. The low spatial density of monitoring sites and short temporal records make the development and testing of predictive models (e.g., stream flow, water quality) difficult. Baseline monitoring is necessary for detecting trends and setting guidelines and thresholds for identifying resource development-related impacts.

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Updated July 22, 2015