Coastal Action is a leader in water quality monitoring and protection. Each water body is unique, and therefore our programs are catered to each unique issue. From protecting human health by testing bacteria in the waters, to monitoring effects on fish by testing for metals. From freshwaters and saltwaters, to beaches, lakes, and harbours, Coastal Action is ensuring the quality of our waters is being monitored and protected.
Community-based water monitoring, or CBWM, is an increasingly popular model of data collection in Nova Scotia and elsewhere. In this model, community members are out on the water collecting samples used to better understand water quality. The CBWM model has many advantages: community members are often experts on local water bodies, the sampling process is an opportunity for public education and outreach, communities can identify the sampling parameters most useful to them, and high quality data collection can be less expensive than government-derived data.
Given the promise and rising prominence of CBWM, groups are often approached by governments seeking data for decision making about, for example, whether or not a body of water is safe for swimming, changes to zoning bylaws, and so on. However, the relationship between the data that is collected and how it is used by various levels of government is unclear.
This report draws on extensive interviews and meetings with CBWM groups and policy makers in Nova Scotia to answer the question, “what happens to CBWM data after it has been collected?”. The findings suggest ways to better align data use with data collection, and present a decision-making framework useful for both decision makers and CBWM groups.