LIVING WATER SMART IN BRITISH COLUMBIA: “The last thing we want to do is overwhelm the public with science. Developing accessible educational material is key,” stated Dr. John Millson of the Salt Spring Island Water Preservation initiative


Waterbucket eNews celebrates the leadership of individuals and organizations who are guided by the Living Water Smart vision. The edition published on on February 14, 2023 the Salt Spring Island Water Preservation Society’s FreshWater Catalogue. They are applying a science-based approach to help educate the community about the fragile nature of the “water balance” on Salt Spring. 

Science informs planning through education

“I am a geologist, and it has been my passion since age 8. And geology links quite naturally into an understanding of water resources. And so, when I retired to Salt Spring Island, I became heavily involved in some of the (community-based) science work that is underway on the island,” explains John Millson.

“The Salt Spring Island Water Preservation Society, Freshwater Catalogue Project that I am leading is providing field data for ground-truthing, as I call it, for some of the community-based science work that we are doing to support the work by the Islands Trust and Capital Regional District. The project has been running for 5 years. We have collected over 7000 data points.”

“The data can help us understand water quantity variability and water balance for an island. It all hangs together and dovetails nicely in a multi-threaded, decision-making process. Water quantity is such a big deal. Why is that? Well, islands only have rainwater for water supply. So, that is the backdrop.”

“The project has three components: science, education, and planning. This is my motivation for what I am doing. One, let’s develop the science, two, share that with the public. That reaches into the education side of it, and three, the information needs to be used to inform planning! My experience is that you do not  make planning decisions which influence people or business, and involve spending, without having sufficient information.”

“We can do some fantastic science work, we can even achieve some ‘accuracy’ with our numbers, and we can say this is what we are going to base our planning decisions on. Unfortunately, if the public is not on board because they do not understand it, you are screwed. Lay people are not scientists. So, the last thing we want to do is overwhelm them with science. Developing accessible educational material is key.”


To read the complete story published on February 14th 2023, download a PDF copy of Living Water Smart in British Columbia: Community-based science raises water balance awareness on Salt Spring Island.