Building capacity to better protect water

Our community water pollution monitoring initiative.

Our Healthy Waters Program is transitioning from an idea into an exciting community-oriented water pollution monitoring initiative. We have been developing sampling protocols, acquiring field instruments, and working with our new watershed partners. During the summer, the Healthy Waters team conducted its first in-depth field study, in partnership with the Whistler Lakes Conservation Foundation, as part of our two-season approach (‘dry’ and ‘wet’ seasons) to characterize contaminants of concern in the waters draining into the Cheakamus River and Howe Sound. Over 200 water samples were collected for analysis by partnering service labs.

Several other watershed partnerships are in development, offering communities and organizations the opportunity to not only learn about local water quality conditions, but also learn from the experiences of those in other watersheds. We are committed to generating water quality data that enables a ranking of pollutant types and sources, and empowers solution-oriented stewardship actions.

Conversations with First Nations and other communities have highlighted the concerns about the health of local watersheds. We look forward to building relationships, improving community stewardship, and answering questions about how we can better protect water. 

Our mobile lab, Tracker

A notable development in our Healthy Waters Program is the acquisition of a cargo van in late 2023, which will serve as a platform for our community-oriented, mobile water pollution monitoring lab. The interior design and build will take place in early 2024 with the goal for Tracker to be sampling in watersheds in summer 2024, once funding is fully secured.

Illustration of Raincoast's mobile pollution lab, Tracker.

In BC there is currently no standardized, high quality water monitoring across jurisdictions, limiting our understanding of emerging pollution concerns, and curtailing our ability to protect water and fish habitat. Tracker will fill this gap and will be available for regular onsite water quality assessments. It will also be available to act quickly in events and emergencies like oil and chemical spills

This unique mobile lab capacity will serve as the cornerstone of the Healthy Waters Program, and will work alongside First Nations and other communities to deliver capacity, learning, and training. It will be equipped with laboratory instrumentation so the Tracker team can deliver insight into pollutants of concern in local watersheds, and contribute to solution-oriented practices within watersheds. 

This is an excerpt from our annual report, Tracking Raincoast into 2024.

Tracking Raincoast into 2024, annual report, cover and inside pages.

You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.