2019 GWF Inventory

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  • Operation and monitoring of over 60 water research observation sites across Canada
  • Purchase, installation and maintenance of instruments and support systems across the North West Territories as part of the Changing Arctic Net
  • Working with NASA's ABOVE prgoram to enhance remote sensing  
  • Development of the first snowpack forecasting in Canada for the Canadian Rockies: www.snowcast.ca
  • Development of models for mapping future floods and the first flood forecasting model for the Yukon Territory
  • Predictive water models have been established for the Great Lakes, Saskatchewan and Mackenzie River basins, and these models are being used to assess climate change impacts on future water availability
  • Reliable, high-resolution future climate simulations have been developed
  • Using DNA gleaned from just a few drops of water, GWF researchers are finding out which invasive fish species have entered the water, as well as contaminants that might affect water quality and fish habitat
  • Connecting and consulting with Indigenous and First Nation communities as well as users and stakeholders from across the country

More detailed information below... 

Technical Advances

To date, Global Water Futures (GWF) has had numerous technical advances. Notably, the program has over 60 water observation sites, cutting-edge drone, sensor and modelling technology. GWF has installed, purchased and maintained instruments and support systems across the NWT as an apart of the Changing Arctic Net infrastructure, enhancing the understanding of ecohydrology in northern boreal forests. Moreover, GWF has fostered relationships with NASA’s ABOVE program to collect a large number of remote sensing products in northern sites, such as Fort McMurray. Additionally, GWF has created a method using DNA from water to determine which invasive species have entered the water, as well as contaminants that might affect water quality and fish habitat. Also, GWF has practiced the development, deployment and commercialization of new instrumentation for the identification of water pollutants, testing for water analysis and reflectometer design, and the testing for soil moisture and snow depth.

To read more on technical advances associated with a specific GWF project, please view below:

The team has made significant advances and developed detailed study plans for a total of 12 GWF Pillars 1-2-3 projects. They also developed 40 standard operating procedures for all phases of sample collection and archiving, sequencing and data analyses. In order to support this initiative and position themselves, extensive training on eDNA techniques have been provided to researchers, graduate students and highly qualified personnel. The team also constructed Fish eDNA metabarcoding, Mesocosm studies, early warning of invasive zebra mussel in Saskatchewan using eDNA barcoding, and eDNA metabarcoding of benthis macroinvertebrates, developed techniques for isolating and characterizing the microbiome of guts of fishes as indicator of stress.

The team is developing, deploying and commercializing System for Acoustic Sounding of Snow 3 (SAS3), a Portable Waveguide Spectrometer (PWS) for the identification of water pollutants, multi-spectral instrument design and testing for water analysis, and reflectometer design and testing for soil moisture and snow depth, identify and assess currently instrumented watersheds. Hosted by GWF researchers and partner institutions for inclusion as hydrologic observatories, initiate the process of developing ‘Smart’ sensor networks for data logging and deploying and testing ‘transmitters’ for communication from observatories to satellites and/or across Canada, and Microsatellite Water Management Mission design with Honeywell is underway. 

 The team has a number of Boreal Observation Network (BON) sites up and running and are in the process of synthesizing the data, this includes three eddy covariance stations in Wolf Creek, Yukon, including above a tall white spruce forest, new forest sites in the Fort McMurray area (on mine sites), flown new LiDAR in Fort McMurray in 2017, and have collected a large number of remote sensing products in association with NASA’s ABOVE program. All of this will allow them to improve characterization of forests and other vegetation structure. In addition, the team has moved forward in standardizing historical data from the BON network and moving it to the GWF data repository for ease of use and access by others.

The team has purchased, installed and maintained $2M worth of instruments and support system as part of the Changing Arctic Net infrastructure at NWF sites across the NWT to enhance the NWF research capacity. In addition, significant progress has been made to facilitate an enhanced understanding of the ecohydrology of the high latitude boreal forests. Development of water level archive for Scotty Creek for the period 1999-present is nearing completion, which will enable them in evaluation of long-term water storage changes for the Scotty Creek drainage basin and for each of its major land cover types.

Development of methods for the analysis of persistent organic pollutants (POPs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and fatty acids - During the first year the instruments have been developed or modified for a range of methods. This includes methods for the analysis of toxic POPs, PAHs, and fish tissue fatty acids. The analysis of POPs is of significance since to date the only ‘certified’ method for the analysis of dioxins required the use of a complex magnetic sector mass spectrometer. The high resolution OrbiTrap MS system has proved so far exceed the analytical capabilities of all previous mass spectrometry systems to a point where we believe it will enable the development of new QA/QC and chemical identification paradigms. For example we have developed methods that permit analysis of dioxins at levels of mass resolution far exceeding current US-EPA QA/QC criteria and also simultaneously acquiring MS/MS data for the same sample. This provides previously unheard of levels of certainty in compound identification. Development of Robotic Sample Handing procedures for the simultaneous determination of organic and inorganic mercury (Hg) in fish tissues - A technique has been developed for the analysis of both organic and inorganic Hg species in samples. The technique involves a simple tissue or sample digestion followed by ethylation using the robotic sample handling system and analysis on the high resolution GC-MS instrument. This technique provides additional isotope ratio data compared to existing techniques. They are currently investigating the applicability of this system to the analysis of other trace metals of environmental concern. Methods for the analysis of dissolved organic matter - Using high resolution direct infusion mass spectrometry the team was able to assign chemical formulae to all compounds that constitute the DOM (dissolved organic matter) fraction in surface water samples. Although the team can generate formulae at this time, however, are not able to generate unequivocal structures for these compounds so the complexity of the DOM fraction is generally assessed using van Krevalin diagrams which ordinate chemical formulae based on C:O and C:H ratios. The accurate mass determination also permits the determination of the presence of other atoms such as N, P and S which are believed to be indicative of the source and environmental properties of the DOM.

Scientific Advances

Scientific advances are prevalent throughout the GWF program, this can be seen through our commitment to integrate natural sciences, engineering, social and health sciences with big data and decision support research to improve understanding and prediction of change in the world’s cold region.

Some remarkable scientific advances that GWF has incurred in the program has been the implementation of drone technology to improve and to provide intermediary-scale measurements, spatially-distributed measurements of snow water equivalent (SWE) and near-surface soil moisture/freeze-thaw state. Models for mapping future floods are being developed, and the first flood forecasting model for the Yukon Territory is operational. Predictive water models have been established for the Great Lakes, Saskatchewan and Mackenzie River basins, and these models are being used to assess climate change impacts on future water availability. As well reliable, high-resolution future climate simulations have been developed and the first snowpack forecasting in Canada to be developed for the Canadian Rockies, which is free and available to the public (www.snowcast.ca).

To read more on scientific advances associated with a specific GWF projects, please view below:

The team is assessing and working on improving drone platforms and sensors for operation in cold weather in order to provide intermediary-scale measurements, and also working on improving spatially-distributed measurements of snow water equivalent (SWE) and near surface soil moisture/freeze-thaw state.

Risk Communication - A partnership is being built with Yellow Quill First Nation and James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatchewan to undertake a community-based participatory project on Indigenous needs for HAB risk communication. Primary data collection on risk communications is currently underway. The key narrative that emerged after a scoping review of 273 articles was: HABs present a public health threat. Transdisciplinary solutions and collaborations are required for decision making, and messages must be culturally appropriate. A three step sequence of messaging has been proposed for the public (caution-warning-danger), and 3 steps for agencies (continue to monitor, alert and increase monitoring, and alarm and emergency management).

Forecasting - Buoy deployment was continued successfully on Buffalo Pound Lake, with continued use of the buoy in managing plant operations. It was a significant bloom year, and analyses to date suggest the sensor-based data show good agreement with discrete measurements by their field crew, and also by water treatment plant chemists, hence they have growing confidence in buoys to collect monitoring information. The team’s statistical methodologies are showing promise in short-term forecasting approaches, however, archiving of weather forecasts is required to fully understand the window over which forecasting is feasible, and are in the process of determining how these can be accessed. From

Drivers to Mitigation – The team implemented an ambitious field program to understand limitation, and intensified sampling to capture antecedent conditions to onset and collapse to collect information on key drivers, including different thermal and biogeochemical triggers. Through their initial experiments at Conestogo Lake and Buffalo Pound Lake, the team has hypothesized that there may be potential (under non-flood conditions) to manage for lake water quality, for example, by altering the dissolved organic matter (DOM) character entering the system (Buffalo Pound Lake), or manage the thermal structure (Conestogo Lake). The team has received approval for a whole lake experiment at the International Institute for Sustainable Development Experimental Lake Area (IISD-ELA), and will seek additional support to test the role of dissolved oxygen depletion on cyanobacteria bloom formation. This is an important ‘proof of concept’ project with major potential to improve approaches to bloom management globally in different types of eutrophic systems (lakes, reservoirs, shallow, deep, hard water, soft water, saline, north temperate to tropical). Work has begun on New Toolbox development with a focus on Buffalo Pound Lake, which includes securing the dates when satellite passes over the areas and attempt to match sampling times to those passes, securing drones permits for Ontario.

A recent paper published by the team in the journal Limnology and Oceanography focusing on effects of flooding on lakes in the Peace-Athabasca Delta due to long-term drying show that the delta continues to display evidence of increasing water loss by evaporation and aridity (despite widespread river flooding of the delta in 2014), a trend that began in the early to mid-20th century and is unprecedented during the past 400 years. These results align with evidence of climate-driven decline in freshwater supplied by rivers draining the hydrographic apex of western North America. Findings serve multiple users, especially Parks Canada, who are currently formulating a plan to address 17 recommendations listed in the recent WHC/IUCN (2017) report [Reactive monitoring mission to Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada; mission report, March 2017. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization].

Significant advances have been made in micrometeorological and biometric measurements, ecological, tree-ring, and stable isotope studies, and forest management studies at Turkey Point Observatory forest sites, which are located near Lake Erie in southern Ontario. These studies will help in evaluating changes in growth and water use efficiency, effect of climate variability and extreme events, and determine how to promote higher forest growth and improve stand water status. In collaboration with scientists from Environment and Climate Change Canada, the team is working on integrating C and N coupled model, CLASS-CTEM+N subroutines in the MESH Hydrological system. The model performance has already been evaluated at five different sites across Canada and will soon be implemented for catchment scale studies. 

Several members of the research team are co-authors of a paper in review with Geophysical Research Letters that represents a substantial improvement of our understanding of salinity in deep groundwater environments. While another paper in review examined the relationship between water chemistry in deep aquifers in Saskatchewan and the permeability of those formations

 The MITgcm has been run at a 200 m horizontal resolution for the whole of Lake Erie. A three month simulation took approximately seven days using 256 cores demonstrating that these resolutions are feasible. A matlab script that can generate bathymetries in and specified rectangular subdomain of the lake at arbitrary resolutions.

Estimating contaminant fate and exposure - A model has been developed for estimating the exposure of the central Grand River in Ontario to selected estrogens (i.e. estrone, 17βestradiol and 17α-ethinylestradiol). The model integrates three components:

1) A source model that uses prescription sales data and population statistics;

2) Estimates for removal during treatment; and

3) A river model based on WASP. Estimating thresholds for effects - Studies have continued to better understand the linkages of estrogen exposure and responses.

A lab experiment was conducted to determine the sensitive window of exposure for fish. The preliminary results demonstrate that intersex in rainbow darter respond to 17α-ethinylestradiol in a dose dependent way and at concentration predicted to be present in the river.

 Extremes and Wildfire – The team has collated historical reconstructions of Fire Weather Indices (FWI) and associated weather at a range of spatial scales (as fine as 3km). They also have CMIP5 3 GCMs and 3 RCPs at 40 km out to 2100. They will initiate analyses with these products in the event there is a delay on WRF runs from the CMIP6 analyses. Extreme value analysis has been initiated with respect to FWI.

Soils – The team has initiated soil sampling for detailed hydrophobicity analysis at their Fort McMurray Boreal Observation Network site. Initial research indicates that peat burn severity has a large control on soil hydrophobicity with an increase in water repellency with moderate burning and this water repellency becomes more hydrophilic with greater burning. Initial discussions among their Canadian Forest Service users has initiated on how these dynamics be best represented in hydrological and wildfire fire (fusion) models.

Integrated Earth Systems Modelling – A new water quality modelling functionality and integration have been developed, in particular the coupling of an instream river water temperature model to MESH. A coupling allows to predict the water temperature year round along all stream and river in the Athabasca River basin. River freeze-up and ice-cover breakup dates can also be predicted, which is particularly useful for climate change studies of ice phenology. Also in the context of climate change, the water temperature model will provide information on how fish habitat locations will change in future. MESH has also been coupled to a sediment transport model. The coupling is currently being calibrated and validated. Test basin is again the Athabasca River but sub-basins of the South Saskatchewan River will also be drawn upon (e.g. Swift Current Creek).

Model Inter-comparison - The HYPE (hydrology and water quality) model is being evaluated in comparison for the integration of nutrient transport routines into the sediment transport model coupled to MESH. Next steps is to integrate WASP water quality model into MESH. The team has made progress in refining the Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) macroscale hydrology model for application to the SaskRB. The initial focus has been on improving the representation of land surface heterogeneity (mainly for vertical processes) and they completed a new implementation of the VIC model based on the Group Response Unit (GRU) concept. The team has set up this implementation for a part of the South Saskatchewan River Basin, and soon plan to extend the model to the whole of the SaskRB. The HYPE hydrological model was calibrated for Nelson-Churchill River Basin using SMHI’s (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute) Global Forcing Data (Watch-ERAInterim) and NARR (North American Regional Reanalysis) as the forcing input data. Sensitivity Analysis based on VARS (Variogram Analysis of Response Surfaces) was carried out to determine the sensitive parameters of the HYPE model for NCRB basin. The calibrated HYPE model was run with bias corrected GCM data (19 GCMs, leveraged from the Baysys project) to analyze the future projected runoff and uncertainty in the Nelson Churchill River Basin. The uncertainty analysis on the runoff due to different forcing input data will be carried out to have a better understanding of the model response and the projected runoff.

Characterization of Model Uncertainty - Most existing techniques for sensitivity and uncertainty analysis ignore, or at best, do not directly account for correlation and interdependence of the different hydro-climatic or water resource variables. This often limits the credibility of the assessments provided by such techniques for water resources problems. To address this issue, the team began developing new approaches to handle correlated variables in sensitivity and uncertainty analysis. While the approaches developed will be general purpose, however, the focus will be on their application on hydrologic modelling and water management issues in the IMPC. This will be implemented in VARS-TOOL, which is a toolbox for comprehensive, efficient, and robust sensitivity and uncertainty analysis. So far, we have investigated several methods such as the orthogonnalization and variance decomposition and tested them with simple examples. A new release of VARS-TOOL as a MATLAB toolbox is also expected to be complete in a couple of months. Water Management Modelling and Coupling Human-Driven and Natural Systems – Significant progress has been made in developing new and assessing existing water resources models for the Saskatchewan River Basin, which is a large, multi-jurisdictional river basin that spans the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and the US State of Montana. Consequently, the team has assessed Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) and MODSIM models for representing the existing operating policy of the SaskRB as modelled in the Water Resources Management Model (WRMM) of Alberta Environment. The Water Resources Integrated Modelling System 2 (WRIMS 2) is another model that has recently been evaluated. All the three water resources management models investigated show some promise, but also limitations. It is unlikely that one single model would fulfil all the requirements of the IMPC to achieve IWRM within Canada’s large river basins, and it is more likely that a suite of models and tools will be recommended. Decision Making Under Uncertainty - An Environmental Scan process to identify the state of scenario development and a list of feasible policy options for the basin is underway.

Watersheds - One of the notable achievements was the development of a catchment biogeochemical classification system based on catchment topography, climate and land use for all the Great Lakes Watersheds. The other major achievement was the creation of an urban nutrient budget for the Greater Toronto Area, including all the major stores and fluxes. The team also made progress in their sub-project on quantification of legacy accumulation in reservoirs. With the help of Grand River Conservation Authority as their partner organization, they have collected sediment cores in the Conestoga and Belwood Reservoirs in the Grand River Watershed (GRW) and analyses is currently underway. The team also focused on crop modeling and reviewed available modeling options in HYPE.

Lakes – The team made headway in simulations of the Grand River plume in Lake Erie by developing input datasets (bathymetry, meteorological forcing and river inputs) and conducting preliminary high-resolution simulations. They (1) coupled a vertically resolved sediment diagenesis module with the 1D lake model MyLake, (2) built a biogeochemical reaction network model that seamlessly couples water column and sediment processes. The application of the model to a boreal lake shows the capacity of the model to simulate daily water quality and sediment-water exchange fluxes dynamically over a long historical period. The team (a) developed time series of satellite-based temperature and chlorophyll concentration for lake St. Clair, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario, (b) developed time series of satellite-based land surface temperature for Lake Erie and Ontario watersheds, (c) compiled historical data for discharge and nutrient loading, and (d) developed an algorithm for ice concentration and ice phenology based on optical satellite observations for Lake Erie. These datasets will be used to develop statistical models that can link algal distribution in Lake Erie to their environmental drivers.

Ecosystems – The team has worked toward the development of indicators that measure temporal and spatial changes in the environmental health along the watershed-lake continuum. The Grand River and the interface with Lake Erie was selected as the case study. The work is linking human activity to adverse environmental consequences (e.g., eutrophication, algal blooms) using fuzzy cognitive mapping (FCM) and graph theory models that build on past workshops to identify the causes of algal blooms in the Western Basin of Erie. The team is identifying effective indicators of change in watersheds such as the Grand River and nearshore of Lake Erie. The work was initiated in selected case studies as sub-basins of the Grand River where considerable biological monitoring has occurred in the past and large data sets are available (e.g., Mill Creek, Blair Creek, central Grand River).

Economics - Notable achievements include the development of an overview of existing hydro-economic models to assess the cost-effectiveness of best management practices (BMPs) in agriculture to reduce P-runoff, and the economic valuation of the damage costs of eutrophication. The latter are used to economically justify further investments in P-reduction technologies to avoid future eutrophication events.

Integration - Notable achievements include the development of hydrology and a nitrate and a phosphorus model for the GRW. The team also developed an approach to deal with this complexity of LGLs, by creating multi-dimensional chain models that integrate coupled hydrodynamic and water quality models of different complexities ranging from simple steady state box-type models (0-D: zero-dimensional) to more complex vertically resolved 1-D models to very advanced fully dynamic 3-D models. The applied models are those that were widely used or being currently used by Environment and Climate Change Canada including the Total Phosphorus Model for the Great Lakes (0-D model), GLM-FABM-AED model (1-D coupled hydrodynamic and water quality model; former DYRESM-CAEDYM model) and AEM3D model (3-D model; former ELCOM-CAEDYM model).


Mountain Climate Extremes - Two major precipitation events (January 10-11, 2010 over B.C., and March-April 2015 in Kananaskis) have been identified to be used in WRF simulations. WRF simulations have been compared against the available observations and they captured many of the key observed precipitation patterns. Collaboration with members of pillar 1 project SPADE and pillar 3 project Climate-Related Precipitation Extremes has been ongoing, and a special atmospheric observation period has been organized in May-June 2019 and it will be linked with SPADE. The Cryosphere - VIC-GL has been modified by PCIC, and coupled with the Clarke regional glaciation model, enabling simulation of glacier mass balance and dynamics. In late September, 2017 the team acquired full waveform (Riegl Q780) laser altimetry data for alpine regions described in the proposal and inception report where complementary research is to be undertaken. Gridded (bare earth and non-bare earth) data is now available for other Future Mountain West and GWF investigators.

Surface-Groundwater Interactions - Groundwater monitoring networks at Fortress Mountain in the Rockies are established across multiple hydrogeological response units. Subsurface geophysics has been completed over-winter in Wolf Creek and summer drilling plans are underway. Distributed stream temperatures in Wolf Creek have been completed at two headwater streams. Initial investigations of distribution of permafrost and frozen ground in Wolf Creek, Yukon, using resistivity mapping have been accomplished. This includes comparing transects along north and south facing slopes.

Forest and Vegetation - Eddy covariance systems have been set up and successfully run for multiple seasons in tangent with a soil and vegetation monitoring network in a mixed-conifer stand at Fortress Mountain, across multiple canopy densities. Three eddy covariance stations are now set up in Wolf Creek with an additional fourth understory system. Sapflow sensors are being installed at forests at Fortress Mountain and Wolf Creek.

Wetland Function - Three intensive sites have been selected: a high (alpine), mid (sub-alpine), and low altitude (foothill) sites and have been instrumented in anticipation of the 2018 field season. An additional sub-alpine site (Burstall Creek) was also recently selected to support this research, and will be instrumented in the summer of 2018. They will collect ecosystem scale measurements of evapotranspiration, and the latent and sensible heat fluxes (using eddy covariance), precipitation, air temperature and relative humidity profiles. Augmenting these measurements will be soil tension, moisture and temperature pits to quantify the ground heat flux and soil moisture dynamics, and transects of wells crossing the wetlands into the adjacent hillslopes to characterize the direction of flow through the systems and the scale of the hydrologic connections with those uplands. 

Estimation of Probable Maximum Precipitation - A new probabilistic PMP estimation technique was developed that improves on the operational moisture maximization approach that is frequently used by engineers. The new method has a firm foundation in statistical extreme value theory and allows quantification of the uncertainty in PMP estimates – something that was not possible hitherto. This work has been communicated to user communities informally on a couple of occasions (briefings where BC Hydro and Manitoba Hydro representatives were present) so far. Temperature Scaling - A large ensemble of 35 North American regional climate simulations (1951-2100) was used to investigate how much data is required to well-estimate temperature scaling relationships in non-stationary analyses of annual precipitation extremes for different accumulation periods. Both local analyses and spatially pooled analyses using the index flood approach were considered. It was determined that due to internal variability, records that are the equivalent length of many multiples of historical observational records are required to robustly identify temperature scaling relationships, even when using the index flood approach. This suggests that precipitation trends estimated with available observations cannot provide reliable guidance for future planning at local spatial scales. Thus, climate models remain an indispensable tool for understanding the response of extreme precipitation to warming. In this study, the team found well organized patterns of positive temperature scaling rates in the climate simulated by the RCM (CanRCM4) for extreme sub-daily precipitation almost everywhere across Canada. It was shown that a well-constrained temperature scaling relation provides a robust projection of changes in moderate precipitation extremes especially in regions where extreme precipitation response to global warming is dominantly thermodynamic. In addition, the team has studied whether “binning scaling” would provide an option for projecting changes in extreme sub-daily precipitation and concluded that binning scaling relationships are not suitable for projecting future change, but rather, that they describe a physical characteristic of the climate. 

Notable accomplishments during Year 1 are development of a first generation catchment classification based on watershed topography, geology, hydrology, climate, and land use, parameterization of the Vermilion study basin for use in virtual basin modeling, a pesticide distribution map for the Prairies, and analysis of climate and land use interactive effects on wetland biota. CRHM prairie basin models have been developed for several basin types in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba with an initial focus on wetland impacts on prairie hydrology. In particular, drafting of manuscripts has begun for the catchment classification and biodiversity studies.

Knowledge Mobilization

The GWF Program promises state-of-the-art knowledge mobilization (KM) in conjunction with its scientific objectives of predicting change in cold regions, developing Big Data and support systems, and designing user solutions to focus on real-world problems. Explicit in these objectives is robust engagement with a diverse end-user community. Strong GWF-funded project-level KM initiatives will build robust overall outcomes for GWF and a variety of GWF program-level initiatives will foster stronger internal and external relationships and connections. A strong KM network will develop and share best practices and resources with all projects, researchers and staff, and build KM capacity across the entire GWF network. The KM Core Team envisions a GWF legacy that has fostered innovation in researcher-practitioner co-creation and has led to policy advancements and positive social change for water science and management in Canada. 

To read more on some of the significant project-based KM activities that happened over the last reporting year include: 

The Prairie Water User Community Advisory Committee has been established to represent organizations across the three Prairie Provinces to reflect the Prairie Water user community diversity. The Committee consists of 9 members, representing SK, AB, and MB and non-governmental, Indigenous, government, and industrial organizations. The Advisory Committee, including Prairie Water co-PI’s and project manager, have met on three occasions during this funding cycle and have co-created a Terms of Reference that outlines the expectations, contributions, and operations of the committee in the Prairie Water project. The committee has been active in reviewing, providing feedback, and contributing to workshops, data requisition, and reporting.

The project held its inaugural kickoff user meeting in January 2018. Representatives from 18 user groups were present. The workshop was interactive and provided space for activities where users expressed their needs and potential contributions to the research. The workshop was a successful example of knowledge mobilization as it identified areas where the project team should enhance efforts, such as enhancing collaborations with current initiatives and relating research to story-telling and local experience. In addition, the Prairie Water project has worked to increase engagement of its students and young professionals in outreach goals and professional development through workshops introducing knowledge mobilization, skills in plain language writing, and strategies for science communication. Insights and workshops developed within this space can eventually contribute to other GWF-wide KM capacity building goals.

Research team members were involved in four policy briefs and meeting with government agencies that have led to knowledge exchange for research priorities both within government and the project, including Environment and Climate Change Canada, Meteorological Service of Canada, and Government of Northwest Territories. The team as also participated in workshops and presentations with non-profit organizations, and has exemplified leadership on multiple international advisory panels as well as working with the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company on a groundwater-permafrost knowledge gaps program.

The project team has developed a strong partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and the Sahtu Environmental Science and Research Board (ESRB). Researchers have attended workshops in the Sahtu region to explain and further develop research objectives with direct input and advice from First Nations collaborators. Communication with Honeywell is underway in the form of discussions and meetings and a workshop was held with Honeywell in January 2018 to gauge the needs of the water research community and the capability of the TSTSW project to meet those needs. Together, a list of parameters to consider measuring throughout the project was established and Honeywell has provided an outline of next steps involved in moving forward with design. 

The project team has undertaken a number of strong knowledge mobilization initiatives. The health and risk communication component of this project uses a collaborative and participatory mixed-methods approach with community co-researchers. Terminology workshops were held to find ways to express key words from the Contaminant Biomonitoring project in Sahtúot’ı̨ nę Yatı̨ ́(North Slavey) with help from local Elders to share their knowledge with researchers to help build important understanding and common language around relevant terms such as “contaminant” and “risk” and facilitate more meaningful language use and communication. The Ka’a’gee Tu Youth On-the-Land Camp was held in the community of Kakisa by the Ka’a’gee Tu First Nation in partnership with students from Wilfrid Laurier University. The camp was a great opportunity for youth to build relationships with each other, Elders and the land as well as learning new skills. Researchers were able to collect fish samples and demonstrated to the kids what they do with the fish and also showed them the anatomy of the fish. Graduate students worked with the youth to collect, identify and sort bugs as part of the research. A Northern Water Futures collaborator attended the annual Dehcho K'éhodi meeting to provide updates on past research, consult on upcoming projects and discuss next steps in the research. The Dehcho K'éhodi program combines Dene knowledge of the land – interweaving traditional land use, cultural practices and language – with environmental monitoring based in Western science. The project team has also been collaborating with the Sahtu Renewable Resources Board to develop school programming that would support environmental monitoring by the students.

The project has knowledge mobilization inherently embedded in its design and implementation with partners. The research team has acquired permission and support for the project from the Confederacy Chiefs and Clanmothers of the Six Nations of the Grand River, who requested interim briefings, and the Elected Council of Six Nations. Ethics was approved by the community. The project team has organized a number of community engagement events in partnership with fellow GWF project “Sensors and Sensing Systems for Water Quality Monitoring”. A World Water Day community engagement event was held at Six Nations of the Grand River, where the project was presented to the community and roundtable discussions occurred to determine community priorities. An Indigenous Youth Leadership Summit, featuring panellists and workshop facilitators, was held at McMaster University. The project team members have participated in cultural orientations and workshops to familiarize themselves with the history, culture, and beliefs of the communities and build relationships with community members. 

 FORMBLOOM’s knowledge mobilization with partner organizations has followed a path built through past collaborations and based on concerns about user fatigue and risk of having too many points of GWF and FORMBLOOM contact with key user groups. Though the project team hoped to foster growing partnerships and awareness across organizations, the priorities these groups have expressed are distinct (and sometimes in conflict). Hence, following the lead and needs of these partners on how they want to participate, we have chosen separate meetings with partner agencies, rather than a large launch meeting. A partnership is being built with Yellow Quill First Nation and James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatchewan to undertake a community-based participatory project on Indigenous needs for harmful algal bloom risk communication. Two meetings with Indigenous Chief and Councils occurred, using proper protocols throughout with traditional offerings, blessings with Elders, and shared food. Councillors for James Smith Cree Nation identified the experiences of members with algal blooms in waterways in and surrounding their reserve and traditional lands and would be interested in sharing their experiences to inform the research project, especially given their concerns about agricultural practices around their research. Councillors from Yellow Quill First Nation noted that many of their members were uninformed of blooms risks, but had much interest as Nut Lake is perceived to be “unhealthy.” They indicated that they wish to learn about algal blooms and share information with their members in culturally sensitive ways and agreed to allow risk communication surveys and interviews in their community. While natural science knowledge of bloom risk is expanding, examination of social science and risk communications effectiveness has not been a focus of work to date, leaving important gaps in the literature – the project has been emphasizing the importance of communication effectiveness (knowledge mobilization) in the work program.

A few of the team members serve on the Saskatchewan Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) task force, and will continue to report results back to relevant authorities in a timely manner, allowing a timely response in the event of a detection of invasive species in Saskatchewan water bodies. In addition, based on discussions resulting from these interactions the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation and the Province of Saskatchewan together with the team intend to establish a community education program on AIS and eDNA monitoring approaches. Members also serves on the Grand River Recreational Fisheries Committee (with broad end user representation at each level of government (municipal. provincial, federal), the Conservation Authority and NGOs (Trout Unlimited, Friends of the Grand River, Ontario Fish and Hunting Association, etc.) and has discuss the project progress at each of the meetings (every 2-3 months). In addition, to boost cooperation with industrial end users and KM, the team members visited Orano Canada Inc. (Former name: AREVA Resources Canada Inc.). They gave a presentation on “Environmental DNA: A novel approach to characterize biodiversity”, and provided baseline training and introduced SOPs for field sampling of water and sediments for eDNA analyses in remote areas. Subsequently, Orano Canada Inc. contracted a consulting company to apply these eDNA field sampling methods for the collection of sediments and surface water samples as part of their routine monitoring activities under their mandate to comply with Canada’s EEM program. The first field campaign was successfully completed and samples were received in good condition by the team, demonstrating successful translation of eDNA field collection methodology to one of our key industry partners.

The team has held formal meetings with several partners (e.g. Region of Waterloo, City of Guelph, GRCA, OMECC and ECCC) to discuss their research progress and plans. In addition, the team had an important opportunity to have some of their research influence the National Expert Panel on Wastewater that released their report officially in May 1, 2018 (Canada’s Challenges and Opportunities to Address Contaminants in Wastewater). This report will greatly influence the federal and other government agencies related to water and wastewater management across Canada as it makes many recommendations related to how more than $10B in future infrastructure may be directed more effectively to deal with contaminants in wastewater. The team members also interviewed for several media stories on wastewater management and contaminant fate and effects (Water Canada, The Waterloo Record). Earlier in the year the team members were also interviewed by numerous news agencies about the recent finding on the recovery of intersex after the treatment process upgrades in the Grand River wastewater plants. 

Since project inception, the team has held routine meetings to share knowledge, including an Inception Meeting, a Project Meeting, and Work Package meetings (four per work package over the past year). These include outcomes such as streamlining field and data protocols and planning future manuscripts, and sharing knowledge regarding how to include socio-economic data into existing models. These routine meetings have advanced the research considerably. The project team met with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) regarding the advancement of the development of the Phosphorus Loss Assessment Tool for Ontario (PLATO) and governance for water quality and land stewardship. A meeting was held with the USDA-ARS regarding the assessment of water use efficiency and drought stress in crops and the use of the eddy covariance technique. The project team has briefed the Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta governments on the project progress and plans. They have met with the Grand River and Upper Thames Region Conservation Authorities on numerous occasions through small group meetings and workshops. The team members participated in an Expert Panel with the Canadian Water Network on Better Management Practices efficacy and non-growing season processes in Toronto, Ontario. The project team has worked with the Bruce Peninsula Biosphere Association on water quality (phosphorus) and land management strategies. This includes aspects of citizen science where volunteers collect water samples and assess stream health. The project’s KM strategy has been to share information with users and co-create the knowledge through ongoing dialogue. 

The project team has worked with Syncrude to coordinate the proposed research with their ongoing efforts to assess the long-term hydrological performance of their closure landform. They are particularly interested in updating mine closure hydrology modelling with future climate as well as future ‘weather’ modelling. Syncrude has recommended that the project team revisit their current mine closure hydrology modelling and assist them to update those hydrological models and integrate them with estimates of chemical loading from their closure landforms. Consequently, the team has worked with two of their consultants to develop an appropriate plan in which the proposed research can be applied to their current closure plan to identify hydrological and environmental risk. In addition, the team has been and will continue to actively obtain, synthesize and standardize data collected at the De Beers Group of Companies Victor mine from research, government and industry-led monitoring programs. The team has identified expertise at major engineering consulting firm to begin a series of informal interviews aimed at understanding how firms are incorporating climate change into their operations. The development and continual support of iWetland, a crowdsourced water level monitoring project, engages citizens to participate in hydrological data collection by texting in the water level at various locations within the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. 

The Lake Futures team has expanded the number of users involved in the project since its inception. It was realized that for the decision making tools to be of use to the user community, expansion of the end-user organization list was critical. The major knowledge gaps identified by the stakeholders were the lack of ability to link activities on the landscape to water quality in lakes, and the need to harmonize across data sources and models. Recommendations from the stakeholders with respect to communication and engagement were included in a stakeholder report. The kickoff meeting demonstrated that our research design was well integrated with stakeholder needs, and identified the most effective ways to engage the stakeholder community. A KM Steering Committee (KMSC) has also been created, comprised of user group representatives, project leads and KM experts for the purpose of ensuring that Lake Futures successfully adheres to both the principles and spirit of GWF’s KM Strategy. Stakeholders have participated in the HQP meetings and have visited Waterloo to give invited lectures and attend lunches with the team to discuss collaboration and project progress. Collaborators were invited to give talks at Waterloo, and Lake Futures researchers were invited to give talks at various user organizations. These interactions enabled the sharing of ideas, and building stronger collaborations.

IMPC has made significant progress on their Knowledge Mobilization (KM) activities facilitated by a full-time User-Engagement Specialist. Their focus has been mainly to shape the KM strategy for IMPC program through user engagement and outreach activities, designing a user survey, developing a KM plan and Participatory Working Groups (PWGs) for each project, and meeting on a monthly basis with the Knowledge Mobilization Oversight Committee (KMOC). Work Package PWGs exist to ensure each collaborator has user representatives on the project team, and that models, decision problems and solutions are co-designed and co-produced. The project team is near to completing a defined user group for each Work Package. During the last year, Investigators were contacted to identify current working collaborators. Additional recommendations were solicited from the KMOC. The current phase includes re-contacting Investigators to link them with additional recommended contacts, officially requesting the participation of representatives from collaborating communities and organizations, and workshopping mechanisms for regular communication between the parties.

The research objectives of this project are built around discussions with key sectors that are faced with everyday operations and policy decisions affected by Canada’s increasing extreme precipitation patterns – engineering, agriculture, utilities, insurance and public health. Strong relationships have been established with Manitoba Hydro and NB Power and an investigation of four major freezing precipitation events of importance to and identified by Manitoba Hydro has been conducted to assess driving mechanisms and to place these into a longer-term perspective. Manitoba Hydro is committed to supporting the research as an active partner and hosted the project kickoff meeting in their new Winnipeg office in November 2017. Health Canada has been an active partner, contributing critical indicators of importance that are related to the project. Through collaboration with CatIQ (Catastrophe Indices and Quantification), the project is selecting several significant extreme events based on insurance losses and type of event. A strong relationship has been developed with the National Research Council (NRC), the body that oversees the evolution of the National Building Code of Canada. The research team has participated in NRC committees that contribute to the development of code changes. The project has assisted the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) and Engineers and Geoscientists of BC through the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium to develop guidance for engineers to follow the mandate to consider future climate information in all design and construction projects. This work has led to MOTI’s online climate information tools specifically to meet the needs of engineers in BC. The project has been working in collaboration with National Centre Atmospheric Research (NCAR) on solving a warm and dry bias over the land surface in modelling, and including the ground water option before launching new extended domain North America runs. The team has also developed a new, probabilistic PMP estimation technique that improves on the operational moisture maximization approach that is frequently used by engineers. The new method has a firm foundation in statistical extreme value theory and allows quantification of the uncertainty in PMP estimates – something that was not possible hitherto. This work has been communicated to user communities—BC Hydro and Manitoba Hydro—informally so far.


Global Water Futures researchers and Indigenous communities across Canada are working together on research to help address the challenging water issues experienced by Indigenous communities across the country. GWF has recognized the significance of Traditional Knowledge and respecting Indigenous community participation through co-creation and co-development of research projects. Indigenization of water research is an ambitious yet essential goal. Indigenization is a multi-stage process that recognizes Canada's colonial history and its impacts on Indigenous peoples and their lands. Our work includes both community led and community engaged projects that actively support reconciliation.

After extensive consultation, GWF created an Indigenous community water research strategy used as a basis for a request for proposal and, ultimately, the funding of six Indigenous community co-led projects. These projects advance the understanding of traditional and western knowledge in water governance, water and food security, sediment restoration, water security, climate change, and water-related human and ecosystem health in Indigenous communities.

For the first time in Canada, Indigenous water experts and Knowledge Keepers have created a protocol that puts co-generation of research at the forefront, in an attempt to create a better water future for everyone.

The Everyone Together: Water Gathering Statement was created by a group of 22 participants representing 14 different First Nation and Inuit communities and organizations. The protocol outlined in the document was initially discussed over three days in April 2023 during the University of Saskatchewan (Usask)-led Global Water Futures (GWF) - Mistawasis Nêhiyawak Water Gathering, and is now available publicly.