All posts by Water Smart

What is Geochemistry?

Aqueous geochemistry studies the role of various elements in watersheds and how elemental fluxes are exchanged through atmospheric-terrestrial-aquatic interactions.

The chemistry of water can reveal aspects of where it is from and how old it is. In this study published by the Geological Survey of Canada, the geochemical analysis of the Englishman River provides valuable information on surface water and groundwater interactions, including seasonal aquifer contribution to river flow.

Read the 2013 document  Aqueous Geochemistry of the Englishman River Watershed, Parksville, British Columbia for use in assessment of potential surface water-groundwater interaction below:

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Recap of Nanaimo Water Day

Thanks to all who came out to Nanaimo Water Day!

There were approx. 75 people who attended the event. It was a great opportunity to share some of the science and policy that affects our region. As we gain deeper understanding of our water resources through data collection and scientific research, we can better implement programs and policy that ensures watershed protection.

Here is a sample of some of the presentations that were given:

Yves Michaud – Geological Survey of Canada, Groundwater Program

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Graeme Henderson – Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations, BC Observation Well Network

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Ian Graeme – Ministry of Environment, New Water Sustainability Act 

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Oliver Brandes – POLIS Project, Blueprint for Watershed Governance in BC

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Pat Lapcevic – Gabriola Water Budget Study

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Rosie Barlak – Ministry of Environment, Community Watershed Monitoring Network (RDN)

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[ Click here for the three other presentations that were too large to post on this page ] ***

Water Experts coming to Nanaimo Water Day! March 21st

Let’s fill the room! Take a look…


Check out our Free symposium on March 21st at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre from 8:30am – 5:00pm in celebration of Canada Water Week! Come listen to an array of scientists and local experts and learn about  local water initiatives and studies, including the RDN Water Budget Study.

Yves_picYves Michaud

After completing a Master’s degree at Université Laval, in physical geography, Yves undertook a Ph.D. degree in geological sciences at Queen’s University.  In his present position as Geoscience Manager with the Geological Survey of Canada, Yves contributes to the development of the scientific program at GSC-Québec and to the delivery of the Groundwater Geoscience Program through the management of human, financial and technical resources.  He is also responsible for the division’s research infrastructures and a member on several interdepartmental and international committees, such as the Council of Great Lakes Research Managers of the International Joint Commission and the Groundwater Project Team, a sub-committee of the Canadian Council of Ministry of Environment (CCME).

Topic: The Nanaimo Lowlands aquifer characterization study and assessment of groundwater sustainability carried out by the Geological Survey of Canada between 2010 – 2013. This project employed seismic surveys and borehole geophysics to study the complex aquifers that exist in the Nanaimo Lowlands, and ultimately contributed to the development of a 3D hydrogeological model to better understand ground water sustainability.


Graeme_picGraeme Henderson

Graeme Henderson has been a Groundwater Technician with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations for the last six years. He is responsible for the operation and maintenance of 70+ monitoring wells from the Provincial Observation Well Network in the West Coast Region. Graeme has a diploma from Sir Sandford Fleming College in Ontario and is currently working towards a Geoscience degree from Vancouver Island University.

Topic:  The Provincial Observation Well Network expansion; the story of how three levels of government worked together to gain a better understanding about regional groundwater resources.


Pat_picPat Lapcevic

Pat Lapcevic is a senior hydrogeologist and Water Protection team leader with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.  She studied Earth Sciences and hydrogeology at the University of Waterloo and has over 25 years of experience conducting groundwater studies.  Since 2005, based in Nanaimo, Pat has studied the groundwater resources of various parts of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.  She currently resides on Gabriola Island.

Topic: The results of the Gabriola Island Water Budget Study that was completed in 2013 by SRK Consultants as part of the RDN’s Drinking Water and Watershed Protection Program.  The study provides an overview of the hydrogeology of the Gabriola, Mudge & DeCourcy Islands, water budget methods and results. Understanding both how much water is needed and how much is available is important to the Gulf Islands which rely on groundwater as their main source of freshwater.


David_picDavid van Everdingen

Dr. David van Everdingen is with Waterline Resources Inc. and  has 20 years of academic, consulting and government experience in hydrogeology. His background includes assessment and monitoring of regional groundwater flow systems, evaluation of Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) technology for management of water resources, and various hydrogeology investigations related to sanitary landfill projects. David’s principal areas of expertise are in characterization, monitoring and assessment of local and regional groundwater flow systems, and hydrogeological database development and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Topic:   The recent RDN Water Budget Study that was developed to better understand the surface and groundwater flow systems within the RDN. It was an initial attempt to consider the inputs and outputs from the surface water and groundwater systems using existing data on a water region basis. The compiled data, in conjunction with water use data, was used to assess the level of stress on each of the six water regions and 28 mapped aquifers across the Vancouver Island area of the RDN.


Craig_picCraig Sutherland, M.Sc., P.Eng.

Craig Sutherland is a water resources engineer with Kerr Wood Leidal Associates Ltd. based in Victoria, BC.   Since starting as a consulting engineer in 2001, he has focused on surface water hydrology for water resources planning and design on Vancouver Island.  He completed a Masters Degree at the University of Glasgow in 2004, which focused on Climate Change impacts on hydrology of the Scottish Highlands (of course the important source of water for whiskey).  Since then, he has been focused on developing tools and approaches to assess climate change impacts on water resources and developing adaptation plans.

Topic:  See above – RDN Water Budget Study (surface water component)


Rosie_picRosie Barlak

Rosie has been an Environmental Impact Assessment Biologist with the Ministry of Environment since 2005 and has worked in various biologist positions with the Province of BC for 12 years. She has an M.Sc. from the University of Tromso, Norway, a B.Sc. from the University of Victoria, and additional biology work experience from both arctic and tropical environments.

Topic: The Community Watershed Monitoring program within the RDN and how it fits in to the BC Ministry of Environment’s water quality monitoring network. Rosie has been encouraging community driven science by getting her feet wet in local streams with stewardship groups and will speak on the importance and successes of partnerships in this program.


Ian_picIan Graeme

Ian is with the Water Protection and Sustainability Branch of the BC Ministry of the Environment. He has been working on the Province’s Living Water Smart Plan since 2009.  His responsibilities over the last few years have included managing the engagement process for the Water Act modernization project. A professional forester, Ian is passionate about water and also has a strong interest in public participation and community engagement.

Topic: The New Water Sustainability Act, which is an update and replacement for the existing Water Act for BC, which has been in place since 1909. Ian will provide details on how the new Act will balance the needs of all water users to  ensure our supply of fresh, clean water is sustainable for today and generations to come.


Oliver Brandes – POLIS Water Sustainability Project (Victoria) on A Blueprint for Watershed Governance 

Arnd Burgert – GW Solutions on The Englishman River – Groundwater & Surface Water Interaction Study

For an event that is not to be missed!

Questions? Call (250) 390 6586 or email

Nanaimo Water Day – free event coming this March!

Nanaimo Water Day-poster

Do you have a thirst for knowledge about water? Are you interested in science? policy? environment?

Come learn about some exiciting water projects and initiatives going on locally to celebrate Canada Water Week on March 21st .

The venue is the beautiful Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo and there will be nine speakers throughout the day for you to enjoy – for freeConference Room!

Questions about the event? Call 250 390 6586. Spread the word and see you there!



Organization Speaker Presentation Time
Introduction/RDN 8:45 am – 9:00 am
1. Natural Resources Canada Yves Michaud General overview of NRCan’s Groundwater Program 9:00 am – 9:40
2. Geological Survey of Canada Hazen Russell Development of the GSC-Nanaimo Groundwater Model for the Nanaimo Lowlands Project 9:40 am – 10:20 am
Coffee Break 10:20 am – 10:40 am
3. Min. of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Graeme Henderson RDN Observation Well Network Expansion 10:40 am – 11:20 am
4. Ministry of Environment Ian Graeme New Water Sustainability Act 11:20 am –   12:00 pm
Lunch Break (food not provided) 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
5. POLIS Project Oliver Brandes The Blueprint for Watershed Governance in BC 1:00 pm – 1:40 pm
6. Min. of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Pat Lapcevic Gabriola Water Budget 1:40 pm – 2:20 pm
7. Waterline Resources Inc. / KWL Ltd. David van Everdingen / Craig Sutherland Van Island Water Budget 2:20 pm -3:00 pm
Refreshment Break   3:00 pm – 3:20 pm
8. Ministry of Environment Rosie Barlak Community Watershed Monitoring Program 3:20 pm – 4:00 pm
9. GW Solutions Inc. Arnd Burgert Englishman River Study 4:00 pm – 4:40 pm
Closing/RDN 4:40 pm – 5:00 pm

“Model My Watershed” – fun app to simulate water balance

Ever wonder how changes in land use affect the balance of how much water infiltrates the ground, how much runs off, and how much evaporates? With this handy interactive online app, see how changes in the amount of rainfall, the surfaces on which the rain falls and the texture of the soil change where the water goes.

Try it here:

Image from:

Decide how much rain will fall by using an easy to manipulate slide bar.  Then select the land-cover type where the rain will fall. Finally, pick a soil type – from sandy soils to clay loam. As the simulation runs, follow where the water flows…

It’s a generic model, but a good fundamental learning tool. For regions in the US they are taking this tool a step further by incorporating GIS / Google Maps data to apply  rainfall scenarios to exisiting land-cover and soil conditions. Then they use the “Modify my Watershed” modelling tool to to make changes to the underlying environmental conditions and model parameters, implement best management practices and calculate the impact of the changes from an economic, social, ecosystem and water quality perspective.

We think that is pretty cool!  – See more at:



Watersheds 2014 – Towards Watershed Governance in BC

Later this January, the Cowichan Watershed will host a forum for water practitioners, watershed groups, First Nations and other decision-makers.

RDN staff will be attending to learn from a multitude of speakers and session-leaders with on-the-ground watershed expertise, to help us move forward with our integrated watershed management planning.

Some of the forum topics include:

Making the Grade: Watershed Report Cards & Indicators

This session will focus the influence and effectiveness of watershed report cards on watershed management, and look at how report card recommendations can be turned into on-the-ground action.

Connecting Water Science & Decision-Making

How can we identify the right science and information to inform policy and management? When is participation by individual citizens, stewardship groups, or government partnerships effective? Using Living Lake Canada’s experience in monitoring, mapping, and inventory for water and watershed needs, this workshop will focus on understanding the best principles to inform decision-making at all levels.

Learning Together to Address the Health & Well-Being Dynamics of Watershed Governance

This workshop will provide an opportunity to learn about successful partnered initiatives—involving researchers, practitioners, watershed stewards, and decision-makers—that focus on watersheds as the setting for enhancing social and environmental determinants of health. We will also learn about tools, such as rich-picture mapping, digital storytelling, and spatially referenced archives, to inform how “unusual allies” can work together.

Legal Tools for Watershed Protection

This workshop will explore the different ways that local governments and communities can work towards watershed protection, with a focus on drinking water protection, water use planning, community planning, and infrastructure adaptation.

How Can We Plan for the Future in a Climate-Changed World?

This workshop will focus on planning for future impacts on water systems, including hydrologic models, economic analysis and trade-offs for watershed outputs, key audiences, and policy recommendations and topic areas.

Check out the event website at :


Your Chance to Comment on the Proposed Water Sustainability Act

Last week, on October 18th, the Provincial Government of BC released a legislative proposal paper for a new Water Sustainability Act.  This has been a long time coming for a couple of reasons:Legislative Proposal - BC Water Sustainability Act Oct

  • This is the first time an update and review of the Provincial Water Act has been undertaken since the inception of the Act in 1909.
  • The initial review timeline indicated changes to legislation would be presented in late 2010.

Your final chance to comment is now! Feedback from the public received by Friday, November 15, 2013 will be reviewed and considered as the provincial government prepares a final version of the new legislation.

Info on the proposal, background on the Water Act Modernization and your venue to provide feedback are laid out at: 

Topics to be included within the updated Water Sustainability Act are:

  1.  Protect stream health and aquatic environments
  2. Consider water in land use decisions
  3. Regulate and protect groundwater
  4. Regulate water use during times of scarcity
  5. Improve security, water use efficiency and conservation
  6. Measure and report large-scale water use
  7. Provide for a range of governance approaches