Open Access Hubs
Measures the number of Canada’s threatened watershed basins (23) with high quality open access water data hubs

Overview

Ready and free access to reliable water-related data is essential for good decision making. Ideally, Canadians should have access to free, online water data platforms – or “open access hubs” – that bring together various sources of data, knowledge and other water information in a way this is understandable, accessible and sustainable over time for each of Canada’s 25 major watersheds.[1] When properly designed, an open access hub should:

  • focus on freshwater health across an entire watershed
  • have a clear purpose and provide data relevant to meeting users’ needs
  • include data of multiple types from multiple sources (e.g., academic research data, indigenous and local knowledge, community-based monitoring data, industry data and government monitoring data)
  • be readily accessible and free to use
  • present data in understandable and readily usable formats
  • provide data that is reliable and trustworthy
  • provide metadata to aid in proper interpretation and use of the data (e.g., by detailing who collected the data, when it was collected and how it was analyzed)
  • provide data that are timely and regularly updated
  • be sustainable over the long-term, with adequate resources available for maintenance
  • be actively used
  • be governed by a clear and appropriate data management policy[2], and
  • be consistently evaluated to ensure its long-term performance.

Using these criteria as a guide, we assessed the quality of the open access hubs for the 23 watersheds that WWF Canada has found to have overall threat levels of low or greater, which we call Canada’s threatened watershed basins. Overall, we rate open access data hubs for Canada’s threatened watershed basins as medium in terms of quality.

All 23 threatened basins have some form of open data access, either through a true hub or through a database providing ready and free access to any user. The hubs/databases are supported by organizations with proven track records and clear long-term commitments to monitoring. A mix of data types is available, though government-funded scientific monitoring dominates. Metadata are widely available and data standards are established for many hubs/databases. The geographic scope of monitoring is reasonably good, though much less monitoring is done in remote basins (which, it must be noted are generally not highly threatened).

Not all open access hubs are of the same quality however. Of the 23 threatened basins, only 11 have hubs we consider to be of high quality. Another 10 hubs rate as medium quality and the remaining 2 are of low quality. Five basins (the Ottawa, Great Lakes, Okanagan-Similkameen, Columbia and Fraser-Lower Mainland basins) have high or very high WWF threat levels but rank only medium in terms of hub quality. Both of the basins with low-quality hubs are rated by the WWF as being under low threat.

Our full analysis of open access water data hubs across Canada can be found here.

Major Watershed Basin

WWF Canada’s threat level

Quality of the available open access hub(s) (subjective rating of low, medium or high)

1.       Newfoundland and Labrador basin

Moderate

High

2.       North Shore-Gaspé basin

Moderate

Medium

3.       Maritime Coastal basin

Moderate

High

4.       St. John-St. Croix basin

High

High

5.       Artic Coast – Islands

Very low

Not Assessed

6.       Keewatin – Southern Baffin basin

Very low

Not Assessed

7.       Northern Quebec basin

Low

Low

8.       St. Lawrence basin

Moderate

Medium

9.       Ottawa basin

High

Medium

10.    Northern Ontario basin

Low

Low

11.    Great Lakes basin

Very high

Medium

12.    Winnipeg Basin

Very high

High

13.    Churchill basin

Moderate

Medium

14.    Lower Saskatchewan-Nelson basin

Moderate

High

15.    Assiniboine-Red basin

Very high

High

16.    Missouri basin

High

High

17.    South-Saskatchewan basin

Very high

High

18.    Lower Mackenzie basin

Low

High

19.    North Saskatchewan basin

High

High

20.    Peace-Athabasca basin

Moderate

High

21.    Columbia basin

High

Medium

22.    Okanagan-Similkameen basin

High

Medium

23.    Fraser-Lower Mainland basin

High

Medium

24.    Pacific Coast basin

Low

Medium

25.    Yukon basin

Low

Medium

[1] See here for a map of these the watersheds.

[2] See, for example, the data policy of the Mackenzie DataStream.

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 info@ourlivingwaters.ca.

Open Access Hubs|Measures the percent of Canada’s 167 sub-watersheds with open access to a data hub that houses water data for use in freshwater decision making
Open Access Hubs|Measures the number of Canada’s threatened watershed basins (23) with high quality open access water data hubs
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