Our mobile water pollution monitoring lab, Tracker

We have acquired an all-wheel drive cargo van, and are now working on converting this into a fully functional mobile laboratory. This means designing, building, and deploying this vehicle – to be named Tracker as a community-oriented, mobile water pollution monitoring lab in support of healthy ecosystems in BC.

Illustrated representation of the vision for the Healthy Waters mobile lab, a van, set near the water with mountains and a city looming in the background, and icons surrounding it.

Tracker will fill a void

There currently exists no standardized, high quality water monitoring across jurisdictions in BC, limiting our understanding of emerging pollution concerns. We are therefore unaware of invisible contaminant threats to fish habitat, and surprised and perplexed by the occasional fish die-off, low returns, and detection of contaminants in fish-eating Resident killer whales.

Tracker will be available for regular onsite water quality assessments in watersheds in the region. The Tracker team will work alongside First Nations and other communities to build capacity and train watershed stewards. 

Measuring hundreds of contaminants

Tracker will host a number of rugged instruments, and enable for the measurement of several contaminants in the field, including coliform bacteria, nutrients, metals, pesticides, and tracers of wastewater effluent. Tracker will provide an early and rapid assessment of the health of fish habitat, and will collect samples for additional analyses by partnering service labs. The latter will measure contaminants that can only be analyzed in specialized labs, including pharmaceuticals and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS; ‘forever chemicals’). The combined dataset will be summarized and shared within and among watersheds.

Water is essential for life. Water creates and sustains healthy habitats for salmon and for killer whales, and provides drinking water for people. Tracker will be deployed in BC watersheds and deliver expert insight into detected pollutants, and provide advice in support of community water pollution solutions. 

Illustrated representation of the vision for the Healthy Waters mobile lab, a van, with the side cutaway so we can see some of the lab equipment on the inside.
Some Healthy Waters team members do water sampling over a river and rocks on the lower mainland.
Photo by Alex Harris / Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

We need your help

In late 2023, we acquired the vehicle that will be converted into Tracker. We are now designing the interior layout and identifying candidate lab instruments that may be deployed with Tracker

We are seeking funds to complete this project, notably by:

  • Contributing to the design and modification of the vehicle
  • Contributing to the acquisition of analytical equipment for the mobile lab
  • Contributing to field and safety gear
  • Contributing to our annual operating cost (insurance, fuel, and maintenance)

Recent articles

Cargo van next to a river.

Sharing our plans for our future mobile lab

We are thrilled to share the design plan for Tracker – our future mobile lab.
Dr. Peter Ross sampling ocean water.

Building capacity to better protect water

Our community water pollution monitoring initiative.
Sam Scott and Peter Ross standing in front of the future mobile lab, which is a grey sprinter van.

Help us build our new mobile lab, Tracker

Tracker will serve as the new mobile water pollution monitoring lab for our Healthy Waters Program.