Interested in monitoring your local stream or lake health?

We can connect you with other water monitoring groups, technical resources and grant opportunities. Contact our Senior Manager at cbwn.coordinator (at)!

Monitoring means taking measurements of attributes over time, in order to understand current conditions and recognize changes. Water quality monitoring involves the assessment of the physical, chemical and/or ecological qualities of water, depending on what issues are a priority.

  1. For ecological health or change, measure ‘water quality’ including temperature, pH and the diversity of ‘bugs’ (benthic macroinvertebrates), which is an indicator of ecological health.
  2. For water as a source of drinking water, measure turbidity, pH, bacterial content, and metals.
  3. To assess how a water source is changing with climate over time, measure flow — the volume and velocity of water– as well as water quality.

A single measurement can assess the health at a point in time, water monitoring over time enables the assessment of longer term changes.

Water monitoring protocols

Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) Protocol

Streamkeepers Training

Columbia Basin Water Monitoring Framework and Data Hub

In November 2017, CBWN co-hosted with Selkirk College and Living Lakes Canada “Cracking the Code in 3D: Water Data Hub and Monitoring Framework” conference to envision a Water Monitoring Framework for the Columbia Basin. This work has followed up to the CBT report, by Dr. Martin Carver titled “Water Monitoring and Climate in the Upper Columbia Basin, Summary of Current Status and Opportunities” in order to coordinate water data collection and inform decision making for communities, hydropower operators, agricultural producers, industrial operations, ski resorts (snowmaking), as well as commercial and residential users. Conference participants discussed the development of a Columbia Basin Water Data Hub, a digital access point to store and provide open access to water data in support of decision-making across all levels.

Issue-Based Monitoring

Watershed Activity Parameters to Monitor
Septic leachateE. Coli, Possibly Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, Chloride, Aquatic biodiversity (eg. CABIN protocol for streams)
AgricultureE. Coli, Possibly Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrite, Chloride, Total Suspended Solids (turbidity), Aquatic biodiversity (eg. CABIN protocol)
Mining – historic or activeTotal metals (ICP-MS), Hardness, Sulphate
ForestryTotal suspended solids, Temperature, Aquatic biodiversity (eg. CABIN protocol for streams)
Urban developmentTotal suspended solids, Nutrients (Nitrates, Nitrites, Ammonia, Phosphorus and Orthophosphate) E. Coli, Total metals (ICP-MS) (CABIN useful for streams)
NutrientsTotal phosphorus, Orthophosphate
Climate ChangeFlow, Temperature, Total suspended solids, Aquatic biodiversity (CABIN)
Water withdrawalFlow

Adapted from Jolene Raggett of Environment Canada

The Columbia Basin Watershed Network gratefully acknowledges support of the Columbia Basin Trust.