Developing Indicators for Regional Water Quality Assessment: An Example from British Columbia Community Watersheds

  • Brown S
  • Lavkulich L
  • Schreier H
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Abstract

An increased understanding of regional surface water quality and the key
factors which differentiate regional from local differences is necessary
for monitoring impacts such as mountain pine beetle infestation and
related land management practices. This study develops a framework to
identify water quality indicators which differentiate parameters
influenced by rock type, by relatively short term anthropogenic
activities, and those resulting from longer term climatic variability.
Rock type was an overriding factor related to stream water chemistry in
this British Columbia case study; with differences between watersheds
differentiated by Ca, EC, Al and Fe. Grouping watersheds by their
dominant rock type permitted the investigation of water quality with
other watershed characteristics. The % forest cover, % pine cover, and
dominant runoff processes demonstrated significant relationships with
soluble cations, metals, turbidity and total organic carbon. Turbidity
levels showed low variability, and relationships with mountain pine
beetle were not strong; suggesting the need for more detailed data sets,
selective monitoring of storm events, and longer term monitoring to
improve predictive capacity.

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Authors

  • Sandra Brown

  • L.M. Lavkulich

  • Hanspeter Schreier

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