Cabin Athabasca Watershed Collaborative

Bird's eye view looking at the Athabasca River

Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) is a national bio monitoring program by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to assess freshwater ecosystems; primarily stream and river habitats. It was developed to provide a standardized sampling protocol and a recommended assessment for determining aquatic ecosystem condition.

CABIN training provides the tools necessary for users to conduct consistent comparable and scientifically credible assessment of streams. Results provide rational to direct policy and planning efforts. It is the most widely used protocol in Canada applied by federal, provincial, and municipal government, community groups, and industry. The STREAM eDNA metabarcoding analyzes benthic samples collected by community- based water monitors faster, cheaper and more accurately.

The Athabasca Watershed Council (AWC) is launching a 3-year community based monitoring program in collaboration with the CABIN Eastern Slopes Collaborative to assess local community needs, share expertise and resources required in the Athabasca Watershed.

Organizations will complete necessary training, identify local study objectives and sites, and collect data from streams using national CABIN sampling protocol and STREAM eDNA metabarcoding analysis.

Alberta’s eastern slopes are the headwaters for the Athabasca, Peace, North and South Saskatchewan Watersheds were an increase in pressures from human uses, including forestry, mineral and energy extraction, rural communities, cattle grazing, motorized recreation, hunting, fishing, horse back riding, hiking and camping, naturally impact water quality and aquatic ecosystems.

An increase in comparable monitoring is needed to establish baseline conditions and measure change throughout Alberta. The AWC and it’s partners recognize an opportunity for local organizations and volunteers to work together to develop a community-based water monitoring program to compliment ongoing government monitoring. Our partners include WPAC’s, stewardship groups, First Nation land managers, research groups, non-government organizations, and volunteers, with support from ECCC and Living Lakes Canada.

Photo Credit: Robert Holmberg