Watershed groups in New Brunswick bring valuable historical data online

March 5, 2019

Written by Emma Wattie and Jessie Smith

Since Atlantic DataStream went live in June 2018, organizations throughout the Atlantic Provinces have been eager to share one of their most precious pieces of information - their water quality datasets. 

With the support of the New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund (NB ETF), Atlantic Water Network has been working directly with twelve watershed groups in New Brunswick to digitize, format, and upload their water quality data. There are now nearly 70 years of water quality data available on Atlantic DataStream – a secure, open access platform that helps groups share and connect monitoring results in meaningful ways. 

Atlantic Water Network works with several organizations throughout the province of New Brunswick, many of whom had decades worth of data, but not always in accessible forms. Even with today’s technology, we hear stories of groups who have years of valuable information that is only found in paper copies, and in some cases, stored away in filing cabinets or even shoe boxes! Atlantic DataStream now makes sharing data even easier than before, with a standardized format aligned with the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency’s WQX format and safely stored incorporating Blockchain technology.  

Even with today’s technology, we hear stories of groups who have years of valuable information that is only found in paper copies.

Our Project, “New Brunswick Historical Water Quality Data Acquisition: Historic Data Informing Future Decision Making”, was submitted to the NB ETF with the goal of building capacity among New Brunswick watershed groups to format and upload their data to Atlantic DataStream. We recognized that it is often difficult to find the time to learn a new data format and digitize decades worth of data, so we wanted to provide as much support as possible while groups begin to share datasets on Atlantic DataStream.

The approach is unique in that we have provided both financial support and staff time to get as much New Brunswick water quality data online as possible. In addition to the 5 partnerships Atlantic Water Network previously established in New Brunswick, we’ve worked with an additional ten groups to share data from across the province.  

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From literal shoeboxes to digitized formats, groups like St. Croix International Waterway Commission are working towards getting their water quality dataset of 15 years in one central location. With the heavy lifting of digitizing their data complete, they can be rest assured that this invaluable dataset is securely stored and accessible for decision makers to use in policy-making and design. 

In addition to datasets collected by our twelve New Brunswick watershed partners, a new watershed-wide dataset for the Wolastoq/Saint John River has its first years’ worth of data uploaded. This initiative, coordinated by Environment and Climate Change Canada, provided five groups with temperature data loggers to gain a better understanding of the range in temperatures throughout the watershed. In collaboration with other New Brunswick organizations, this information will provide a more robust water temperature dataset for the entire watershed.  

Atlantic Water Network thanks the NB ETF for their generous funding to support this project and all of the partners involved.  

If you are a New Brunswick watershed group that has water quality data and are interested in sharing it on Atlantic DataStream, please contact Atlantic Water Network’s Data Analyst, Patrick LeClair at patrick.leclair@smu.ca.

About the Author

Emma Wattie is the Program Manager at the Atlantic Water Network. She has been working with Community-Based Monitoring Organizations for the last four years as part of the Community-Based Environmental Monitoring Network. She’s a proud Maritimer and loves any excuse to get outside. In her spare time she’s an avid reader, knitter and baker.

About the Author

Jessie Smith is the Project Officer with Atlantic Water Network. After working and studying community development for several years in Europe, Jessie has recently moved back home to help facilitate and sustain healthier watersheds in Atlantic Canada. A native Haligonian, Jessie enjoys outdoor swimming, running, and all things music.

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