Communities and Regulators Lack Data Needed to Protect Freshwater Ecosystems

splash of water

Healthy water is the lifeblood of our communities.

British Columbians say that fresh water is our “most precious resource.”

However, governments and community leaders don’t have all the information they need to track water health, create sound policy, and coordinate work to protect BC’s rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands.

The Real Estate Foundation of BC (REFBC) has released Murky Waters: Taking a Snapshot of Freshwater Sustainability in BC.

You can’t change what you can’t measure. That’s the premise behind REFBC’s series of “BC Snapshot” reports, which introduce a framework and indicators for tracking BC progress towards sustainability goals.

Murky Waters, the first in this series, examines the state of freshwater ecosystems in British Columbia, and introduces ten impact measures to assess freshwater sustainability. Many of the measures were difficult to quantity – critical data was unavailable, out of date, or incomplete.

Instead of presenting a clear picture of freshwater health in BC, Murky Waters identifies gaps in data availability and makes recommendations for improving data gathering, monitoring, and reporting.

Recommendations include:

  • Provincial reporting on water sustainability plans, water objectives, and water conservation plans
  • Provincial and federal tracking and reporting of wastewater treatment data
  • Provincial reporting on lake health data, including trophic status
  • Public opinion surveys on freshwater policy
  • Collaboration between governments and non-profits to improve data quality and access

Murky Waters was commissioned by the Real Estate Foundation of BC as part of its BC Snapshots series. The report was prepared by Andrew Stegemann, in consultation with water experts.

Two more BC Snapshot reports will be released in the coming months: built environment sustainability (Dec. 2017) and local and sustainable food systems (Jan. 2018).