CBWQ launches water quality monitoring website

The website shows Basin-specific water quality data for all communities within the basin.

A new website launched by the Columbia Basin Water Quality Project (CBWQ) is now available for viewing. The website shows Basin-specific watershed-related data including water chemistry, velocity, flow, temperature and interpretive reports, for all of the communities within the Basin.

After 11 years of citizen science monitoring, the CBWQ has come to an end. The purpose of the website is to provide ongoing public access to project data, which is monitored by Mainstreams Environmental Association, who will endeavour to keep the site active for as long as possible.

The website shows reports spanning from 2009 to 2017 for various watersheds in the Basin.

In a report from Mainstreams Environmental Society, spanning from 2015-2017, Mainstreams says that overall, the water quality in Mather Creek (also known as Cherry Creek) is good.

Monitoring of Mather Creek was focused at the downstream end of the creek, near the confluence with the Kootenay River. Two other monitoring sites were also added in 2017 to monitor E.coli only, which was shown to be a water quality perimeter of concern.

“Two guidelines for the protection of aquatic life not met were total phosphorous and pH,” reads the report. “However, negative impacts were not expected since, on average, values were within the respective guidelines.”

The report also states that the E.coli guideline protecting drinking water from direct adverse health effects was exceeded.

“Since this guideline was exceeded in all samples, it is recommended that water be disinfected prior to consumption.”

Continuous water temperature monitoring results show that the guidelines for the protection of aquatic life and drinking water were regularly exceeded in the summer months.

“The summer high temperatures were above optimal for Bull Trout and Westslope Cutthroat Trout rearing,” says the report. “The Bull Trout minimum temperature guideline for egg incubation was also regularly not met during the winter. However, it is unknown wether the monitoring site is used by these species for spawning and rearing, and if required, fish would be expected to seek out suitable habitats elsewhere in the watershed.

“Overall, monthly average temperatures were consistent among the years. Flow patterns in the creek were also generally consistent among years, peaking in the spring during freshet, and declining throughout the summer and early fall.”

RELATED: More water education with Mainstreams

In a separate report from Lotic Environmental Ltd., dated 2010 to 2012, looks at the St. Mary River Watershed. The report specifically looked at three sites on the main stem of the river; two sites located upstream of St. Mary Lake and one downstream.

The report shows that bethnic invertebrates (organisms living at the bottom of the water) were stressed in the early years of the research, however over time health of the bethnic community improved.

The upstream sampling site was determined to be in a healthy condition between 2010 and 2012.

“At this site, non-metal water quality data was collected annually and there were no exceedances of water quality guidelines for the protection of aquatic life or drinking water,” says the report.

It adds that at the site downstream of St. Mary Lake, water quality was consistent throughout the study, similar to the upstream sites.

“This site also had sediment quality monitored annually,” explains the report. “Results found arsenic and manganese concentrations that exceeded guidelines for the protection of aquatic life. The likelihood of effect on the biological community was uncertain given the concentrations measured were low.”

To read the full reports, and view other information on water quality visit www.cbwq.ca.


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