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Canadian Science Policy Centre | Panel 504 - Fueling Water Innovation in Atlantic Canada

Panel 504 - Fueling Water Innovation in Atlantic Canada

Conference Day: 
Day 2 - November 8th 2018
Takeaways and recommendations: 

Fueling Water Innovation in Atlantic Canada

Organized by: WWF-Canada

Speakers: Angela Douglas, Project Manager, PEI Watershed Alliance/Hillsborough River Association; Carolyn Dubois, Director of the Water Program, The Gordon Foundation; Emma Wattie, Director, Atlantic Water Network, Saint Mary's University

Moderator: Elizabeth Hendriks, Vice President, Fresh Water Program, WWF Canada

Takeaways and recommendations

  • Canada has 20% of the world’s freshwater. Canadians rank water as the country’s most important natural resource.

  • People care about what’s happening in their backyard. Citizen scientists are motivated to collect water data in their area.

  • Sometimes the data about water are there, but it’s a challenge to access.

A case study: the PEI Watershed Alliance

  • Prince Edward Island has a government watershed management fund, which supports 23 community watershed groups that cover almost all of the province’s geography in the PEI Watershed Alliance.

  • Water issues are known, but how can they be monitored?

  • Governments are approaching the Watershed Alliance, then partnering and sharing data.

  • PEI Watershed Alliance has started a partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to monitor the Northumberland Strait, using eel grass as an indicator of ecosystem health.

  • Small groups can have an influence on policy.

The Atlantic Water Network:

  • The Atlantic Water Network consists of approximately 80 active monitoring groups, many of which are 20-30 years old.

  • These non-governmental organizations have been able to leverage their funds 12 times more than government investments.

  • These NGOs upload and share data through the Atlantic DataStream, established using an Environment and Climate Change Canada grant. 23 groups are online, and are working to digitize their data.

Sharing and managing water data:

  • People want to play an active role in protecting freshwater. What state are our watersheds in?

  • There is a lack of water data sharing infrastructure.

  • The DataStream application supports those looking to analyze and upload data. It is an open access tool with a clear approach to data ownership and licensing, a scientifically robust foundation, and has a user-friendly upload/search/visualization interface.