New water data collaboration makes a splash in the Great Lakes
August 17, 2021
DataStream and Water Rangers are teaming up to publish community water monitoring data from the Great Lakes and Saint-Lawrence regions.
Community water monitoring is a growing movement in the Great Lakes and across Canada. Water Rangers - who equip communities with the tools required to actively monitor and manage their waters - are playing a leading role.
Now, through a new hub-to-hub connection, anyone in the Water Rangers network can share data on Great Lakes DataStream, an open access hub for sharing water data set to be released this fall.
“This is an exciting time to join forces,” says Kat Kavanagh, Executive Director of Water Rangers. “People are passionate about keeping their local waters healthy and community water monitoring is a great way to do this, but it can’t end there. We need to think through what happens with this data.”
That’s where DataStream comes in. “Diverse community monitoring organizations are dispersed across regions,” says Carolyn DuBois, Executive Director of DataStream. “This is powerful, allowing us to have a collective finger on the pulse of watersheds, where local people are best placed to see and respond to changes.”
However, these strengths of community monitoring also present challenges. Pulling together a mosaic of community datasets to tackle water quality problems on a regional scale is difficult. The new collaboration between DataStream and Water Rangers addresses this.
“Water Rangers groups are out there monitoring in order to answer local questions, fill data gaps and feed into larger studies on freshwater health,” explains Kavanagh. “The ability to publish their data on the new Great Lakes DataStream platform will be a game changer, increasing the visibility and impact of community monitoring efforts.”
The Canadian Freshwater Alliance is among those benefiting from the collaboration. “It’s been an exciting year for our Lake Erie Guardians program,” says Raj Gill, Great Lakes Program Director. “Working with Water Rangers, 50 volunteers have been out water testing in the Lake Erie watershed. Having their results on Great Lakes DataStream allows them to get a fuller picture of what’s happening within the Lake Erie watershed and also start seeing how this compares to the other regions in the Great Lakes.”
This data sharing is essential because even in the Great Lakes--one of the most populated watersheds in Canada-- some areas lack basic monitoring data. “We’re excited about what collaborations like this can achieve,” says DuBois. “The key with water monitoring efforts is to ensure that the data are well managed and that tools like ours are connecting wherever possible to serve the community.”
DataStream is an online, open-access platform for sharing water quality data that allows water monitors to standardize, store, and share their data. Anyone can explore, visualize and download the data. DataStream was developed by The Gordon Foundation and is delivered in collaboration with regional monitoring networks.
With three existing hubs across Canada, DataStream currently houses over five million open data points collected by over 135 water monitoring and research groups. Great Lakes DataStream will be the fourth hub, coming online this fall. Find out more at greatlakesdatastream.ca and connect with DataStream on Twitter and Facebook.
Water Rangers is a not-for-profit social enterprise, established in 2015 as the first Aquahacking winner. Water Rangers empowers communities with the tools to understand and care for their local waterways. Water Rangers work towards a vision where every community understands and addresses the health of their water bodies. Water Rangers equips communities with their easy to use fresh and marine water field test kits, data management and sharing platform, field app, and extensive community education programming. Water Rangers has over 150 groups using Water Rangers testing equipment and sharing data. There are currently 18 Water Rangers groups integrated with DataStream’s platform. Find out more at waterrangers.ca and connect with Water Rangers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Main photo: Cassidy Swanston
Smart technologies have great potential to improve our understanding, management, and use of the Great Lakes.