Decision Makers
Surveys the opinions about water data from a selection of water-related decision makers

It’s important to be transparent that this Shared Measurement System was designed from a non-Indigenous worldview and we recognize that Indigenous ways of knowing are absent from it. For more information on this positioning, see our Right Relations page.


In order for decision makers to make sound decisions, they require access to accurate, timely, relevant, comparable and clear data. However, knowing whether water decision makers have access to the high-quality data required is challenging. First, it is tricky to define who is a water decision maker. Many individuals are involved in water decision making in one way or another, including politicians and other officials in governments and public agencies; business owners and their employees; and staff of non-governmental organizations. Do these individuals have to spend all their time working on water-related issues to qualify as water decision makers? Or is it enough to do so as part of some broader set of duties? What exactly is a water-related issue? Is the manager of snow clearing for provincial highways a water decision maker? All these questions complicate the matter of defining the “water decision maker”.

Constraining this impact measure was necessary to make the compilation feasible. This was accomplished by limiting the scope to officials working in government departments/agencies at the First Nations and provincial levels. Water decision makers working in these departments/agencies were identified using the first-hand knowledge of experts within the OLW Network and through internet research. In the end, this list came to 152 individuals. These individuals were then surveyed regarding their views with water-related data available, yielding 18 responses. As such it is clear that this approach does not represent the broader community of water decision makers, or even a subset.

Overall, the picture that emerges from our survey is one of moderate satisfaction with existing water-related data. The two most common concerns cited by respondents who were not satisfied with the water-related data available to them were that: 1) the data they require are simply not found among those currently available; and 2) available data are not easily compared, either with themselves over time or with other types of data. The findings seem consistent with OLW’s Accessible Data impact measure, which show that only 40% of Canada’s 167 sub-watersheds have sufficient data to allow an assessment of their overall health.

The full write-up and discussion on the survey can be found here.

Last updated December 2019

Note: The data presented here represents our best research given the time and resources at hand. We acknowledge there may be errors. This shared measurement system belongs to all members of the Our Living Water Network, so if you have any corrections for us, or ideas to share on this measure, please send us an email at [email protected].

Decision Makers| Surveys the opinions about water data from a selection of water-related decision makers
Decision Makers| Surveys the opinions about water data from a selection of water-related decision makers
Imagine a Canada where all waters are in good health: