The results are in! National CBM Survey Highlights

Aislin Livingstone headshot
Aislin Livingstone

Growing Momentum

Through a diversity of monitoring, stewardship and guardian programs, communities across Canada are playing an increasingly important role in gathering critical information about the health of their watersheds. As interest in community-based water monitoring (CBWM) grows, investments to organize and implement community-driven initiatives are being made. However, to realize the full potential of these efforts, there is a need for strategic thinking, collaboration, and coordination, including at the national level.

Our Survey

To find out more, the water team at The Gordon Foundation, Living Lakes Canada and WWF-Canada sent out an online survey to ask you – the water community – what federal support is needed to help sustain the growing CBWM network. Specifically, we hoped to:

  1. Build a better understanding of common issues CBWM initiatives face and prioritize future efforts around these; and,
  2. Identify strategic opportunities at the federal level to build on CBWM work across the country.

Who We Heard From

We heard back from 146 people from a wide range of backgrounds doing work in every corner of the country.

We heard from technical leads, project coordinators, executive directors, volunteers, policy analysts, researchers, funders, government representatives, and many more. Most respondents represented non-governmental organizations (45%) and government departments at different levels (17%).

Priorities to Advance CBWM in Canada - What We Heard

Among other issues identified, participants pointed out that in many cases, despite the successes of CBWM programs - data collected are not being used to their full potential and groups are struggling to maintain long-term monitoring activities on a shoestring budget.

When asked to identify their specific concerns, the highest ranked priorities included: sustainable funding (33%), data management (17%), interjurisdictional coordination (16%), communicating results (15%), and strategic monitoring (8%) .

Collective Action is Needed

Survey respondents agree that there are opportunities for national-level supports to help sustain and network CBWM across the country. Participants further agree that convening a national discussion would help federal departments put in place more effective institutional and collaborative processes to maximize the value and impact of CBWM.

Our key findings from open-ended responses suggest that outcomes from a national discussion should focus on:

  • Building CBWM capacity
  • Ensuring high quality monitoring
  • Facilitating regional collaboration
  • Streamlining data management
  • Strengthening knowledge transfer

Next Steps

We are taking the advice provided through our survey and running with it! Stay tuned for more information on our plans for an upcoming national-scale gathering on CBWM. This event is intended to highlight the successes of CBWM to-date and identify key opportunities for the federal government to help sustain this growing movement.

This is a collaborative initiative being led by The Gordon Foundation, Living Lakes Canada, and WWF-Canada.

To see all of the survey highlights please visit:

Feature image credit: Living Lakes Canada

Aislin Livingstone headshot
About the author
Aislin Livingstone

Aislin is a Program Manager for DataStream. Aislin has a background in a range of fields including environmental design, ecological restoration, and community-based water monitoring. She is passionate about protecting freshwater and coastal environments and is excited to support DataStream’s growing community.

Aislin holds a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Guelph and a B.A. in Environment with a Minor in Biology from McGill University.

Read more