Current research projects
2021 – 2025: Water quality in Canada: validation, interpretation, and mobilization of community-based water monitoring
While accurate and relevant data are the cornerstone for evidence-based decision-making in freshwater management, ensuring the accuracy and relevance of these data remains a challenge in Canada’s fragmented monitoring networks. Making sound management decisions requires effective communication and collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders, including those from academia, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and local community groups, yet there is often little coordination and communication among them. The Alliance we propose to build will serve to connect these diverse water stewards presently operating in this country. Our research will provide communities with a simple way to crowdsource water quality data that will transform citizens’ understandings of their water, as well as their ability to participate in water stewardship. The partnership between Dr. Kerri Finlay (U Regina), Water Rangers, and Environment and Climate Change Canada will aim to address challenges associated with sustainable and meaningful Community-based Water Monitoring (CBWM) by improving its legitimacy and validity for academics and government officials. We aim to establish the basis for long-term sustainability in water testing programs across Canada, using Saskatchewan, a province with frequent recreational water quality concerns, as our case study. We will focus on: (1) validating, improving, and legitimizing inexpensive tools that can provide results in real-time; (2) building artificial intelligence tools that use accessible, affordable tests to help answer important questions about water quality; and (3) enabling community-led data management that engages all stakeholders (Community, Non-Governmental, Government, and Academic).
Core funding by: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the University of Regina Science Department.
2019 – 2020 : Machine learning & transforming citizen science for water monitoring
How can we inspire more people to test waterways? Water Rangers researched how machine learning, user experience design, and academic research can validate and expand meaningful water testing for citizen scientists!
We found out that inexpensive water testing equipment, when combined with technology that reads and interprets results, can produce high-quality data. Through this, we confirmed that making water testing affordable, accurate, and meaningful empowers more citizens to participate in conservation efforts. This project discovered ways to create more legitimacy, usefulness and effectiveness in citizen science water monitoring.
Read the impact report (PDF)
Core funding by: Ontario Trillium Foundation.
2019 : Growing the Flow: Building water-quality testing capacity in data-deficient subwatersheds through citizen science
The project, titled “Equipping Data Deficient Watersheds with Water Testing Capacity” and conducted by Water
Rangers, had the following goals, based on the priorities of the WWF Loblaw Water Fund to help fill data gaps in Canadian sub-watersheds:
GOAL 1: Empower communities (where it is difficult to get resources) with the tools they need to collect water samples for the first time.
HOW: Distribute water quality testkits to selected applicants in under-served communities. Teach them how to
test using simple water quality parameters and how to train others using online tools.
GOAL 2: Support continuous, long-term community-based water quality testing that builds capacity.
HOW: Applicants agree to follow Water Ranger’s testing schedule, and conduct 16 tests in 4 locations in 2019. In order to keep the testing equipment, they must commit to long-term monitoring. Participants were encouraged through reminders, community-building publicity, and gamification. Water Rangers aimed to connect applicants
to data holders and decision-makers and built their capacity for long-term monitoring through online resources. Participants were told to talk to 20 people about water testing and train four to use the testkit.
GOAL 3: Expand open-source data and citizen-monitoring to inspire Canadians to protect waterways and fill data
HOW: Running a community-based program can be time-consuming and expensive. The aim is to automate data sharing, reminders, and give data tools to organizers. Connect community groups to share resources, celebrate successes, make testing fun, and give ideas to grow the movement!
Read the whitepaper (PDF)
Read the impact report (PDF)
Core funding: This project was supported by the WWF Loblaw Water Fund in 2019.