North Coal Water Data Secured Through the Columbia Basin Water Hub
The Columbia Basin Water Hub is making significant progress towards achieving open data sharing in the Canadian Columbia Basin. Recently the Water Hub acquired baseline water data from a proposed mining project in the Elk Valley that is currently under review with the provincial and federal governments.
North Coal has been collecting baseline water data since planning for its Michel Coal Project started in 2013 and is the first mining company to sign a data sharing agreement with the Columbia Basin Data Hub.
“Having companies in the private sector share water data sets is an important component for providing the information needed by decision makers working to manage watershed and ecosystem health. There is a strong appetite for increased transparency with regards to water data while also keeping industry who impact water more accountable,” said Santiago Botero, Applied Innovation and Technology Manager for Living Lakes Canada. “The baseline data provided by North Coal is one of the first datasets that have come from industry, hopefully paving the way for more industrial datasets to be hosted in the Water Hub.”
Formally launched in March 2021, the Columbia Basin Water Hub is an innovative open data platform for housing water-related data collected in the Canadian Columbia Basin. The Water Hub also provides links to existing water data relevant to the Columbia Basin. The overarching aim of the Water Hub is to make this data easily accessible to Indigenous and non-Indigenous decision makers, researchers, community groups and the public at large, to help build a holistic and transparent approach to water management as climate change continues to impact hydrological flows in the Basin region.
In the six-month period since its launch, over 151 water datasets from streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands across the Columbia Basin have been uploaded to the Water Hub. This data was collected and provided by 31 regional organizations. In addition to North Coal, Kalesnikoff Lumber based in Castlegar has also provided data from the private sector.
“North Coal has been collecting environmental baseline data in the Michel Creek watershed for several years now. We are happy to start sharing water quality data with Living Lakes,” said Patty Vadnais, Manager of Social Responsibility and External Relations for North Coal. “In the future, we will look to upload water flow, and groundwater data.”
Planned for a location near Sparwood, B.C., the Michel Coal Project is currently in a joint-review approval process with the BC Environmental Assessment Office and Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.
“What we like about the Water Hub is the data is held by a reputable third party and available to a wide variety of users for academic studies or to inform management strategies in the Elk Valley or Columbia Basin as a whole,” said Vadnais.
The Water Hub is facilitated by Living Lakes Canada, the Columbia Basin-based water stewardship NGO. Botero and Paige Thurston, the Water Hub’s Database and Community Engagement Coordinator, work closely with database users to support the technical data upload process and create data management plans. Anyone with water-related data from the Columbia Basin is encouraged to submit their data, including community-based monitoring groups, all levels of government including First Nations, and industry.
“Living Lakes was able to customize the upload template to meet our needs, which has made the process simple and straightforward,” said Abby Cousins, Senior Geologist with North Coal.