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Freshwater Atlas

Freshwater AtlasThe Freshwater Atlas (FWA) is a standardized dataset for mapping the province's hydrological features. The atlas defines watershed boundaries by height of land and provides a connected network of streams, lakes and wetlands. Each stream in the province has its own watershed (the land drained by that stream) but it is also linked to the other streams and watersheds around it.

This allows you to connect a stream to both its tributaries and the watersheds associated with them. Simply put, you could, conceptually, launch a paper boat in the headwaters of a small creek in the interior and trace its route to the sea. You could also identify all the wetlands, lakes and watersheds your boat passed through.

Using the Fresh Water Atlas

The quality of B.C.’s water is a barometer that reflects the environmental, economic and social wellbeing of our province. B.C.’s burgeoning population, industrial and agricultural growth, and the potential impacts of climate change are only increasing the value of our water resources. The Freshwater Atlas has been developed as a management tool to ensure freshwater resources in B.C. are sustained for future generations.

The Freshwater Atlas is a standardized dataset for mapping the province’s hydrological features. The atlas defines watershed boundaries by height of land and provides a connected network of streams, lakes and wetlands. Each stream in the province has its own watershed (the land drained by that stream), but it is also linked to the other streams and watersheds that it flows from and to.

The Freshwater Atlas allows you to connect a stream to both its tributaries and the watersheds associated with them. Simply put, you could, conceptually, launch a paper boat in the headwaters of a small creek in the interior and trace its route to the sea. You could also identify all the wetlands, lakes and watersheds your boat passed through.

Why was it developed?

The atlas was designed to be the definitive source for mapping freshwater features in B.C. It provides a consistent base and coding system ensuring the province’s various freshwater-related inventories are tied to a common base.

Watersheds are bounded by heights of land and these heights of land provide the definitive reference for many administrative boundaries and land tenures. The Freshwater Atlas provides a connected network that serves as the foundation for sophisticated analysis and modelling.