Water Monitoring

Draft Report

Development of a

Water Monitoring Framework for the KDCFS

(Click to View the Full Report)

1    Introduction

The Kaslo and District Community Forest Society (KDCFS) contracted WaterSmith Research Inc. (WSR) to develop a long-term (e.g. 50 year) water monitoring framework to measure the impacts of watershed disturbance (e.g. forest development, wildfire, forest pests) and climate change on water supply within the KDCFS management area.  The KDCFS has been monitoring the impacts of watershed disturbance on water quantity on a sporadic basis since the late 1990s.  In 2008, the monitoring stations were upgraded and regular annual monitoring was initiated.  With increasing demands for water related to ongoing residential and commercial development and with escalating concerns about the potential for climate change impacts on water, KDCFS initiated this project to develop a more comprehensive water monitoring framework.

Wildfire and/or forest development have impacted hydrologic processes throughout most areas of the KDCFS operating area including the Kemp Creek watershed, which is the primary water supply for the Village of Kaslo.  Moreover, annual air temperature and precipitation are predicted to increase by approximately 1.9 °C and 5 %, and winter and spring snowfall are predicted to decrease by 9 % and 52 % in the Central Kootenays by the 2050s, respectively [Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium, 2012].  Designing a monitoring system to detect watershed disturbance and climate change signals in the water supply requires an extensive knowledge of monitoring designs, infrastructure, and maintenance, and a clear understanding of the potential impacts of watershed disturbance and climate change on upslope and in-stream physical, biological, and chemical processes, as impacts can be highly varied in their nature and severity.

Higher air temperatures associated with climate change can result in earlier onset of seasonal snowmelt or more transient snowpacks, earlier and/or higher peak flows, lower summer flows, higher summer stream temperatures, and higher stream turbidity, particularly during the early phases of the spring freshet [Barnett et al., 2008; Maurer et al., 2007; Pike et al., 2008a; b; Vicuna et al., 2007].  Forest harvesting can also result in earlier snowmelt, earlier and/or higher peak flows, higher summer stream temperatures, and higher stream turbidity; however, the actual impacts vary substantially depending on the distribution and intensity of forest cover removal, the extent of riparian harvesting, and the influence of roads on natural drainage patterns, among other factors [Pike et al., 2010].  These potential impacts are also highly dependent on the natural physiography of the area.  For instance, the climate regime, soil depth and permeability, vegetation characteristics, and topographic variability all strongly influence runoff and aquatic processes [Pike et al., 2010; Smith, 2011].

Suitable monitoring sites are those where variation in water quality, quantity, and/or timing are sensitive to the phenomena of interest.  A challenge is to find a good balance between monitoring objectives and site desirability.  With streamflow monitoring, a desirable site is one with (1) stable geophysical features, (2) inexpensive access in all seasons, and (3) safe monitoring conditions.  Site selection affects long-term data persistence, data quality, data representativeness, operational costs, liability risks, selection of data processing/analysis methods, and reliability risks [Hamilton, 2012].

This report describes the terms of reference for the project, the regional geography, the proposed monitoring framework, and potential funding opportunities.  The project incorporated three phases of work including project scoping, site selection, and sampling protocol development.  The scoping phase included a project initiation meeting, identification of the baseline data requirements, and development of criteria for identifying suitable monitoring sites.  The project initiation meeting was held via teleconference on June 12, 2012 to clarify the project scope, deliverables, budget, and time constraints.  Identification of the baseline data requirements and the criteria for identifying suitable monitoring sites were derived directly from the monitoring program objectives.  The site selection phase included a pre-field office review of the spatial analysis results, a field review of potential sites (conducted with Richard Marchand, manager of KDCFS, on August 16, 2012), and a post-field re-evaluation of program objectives, baseline data requirements, and site suitability, including installation, maintenance, and data quality limitations associated with the sites.  The sampling protocol development phase involved matching the proposed sites with the baseline data requirements after accounting for site characteristics and program resources.

Russell Smith (WaterSmith Research Inc.) provided project management and hydrologic analysis, Dan Moore (sole proprietor) provided technical advising, and Nick Ochoski (ESSA Technologies Ltd.) and Fergus Stewart (FPS Drafting & Geomatics Ltd.) provided spatial analysis.