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Research into Action to Benefit Canadians

Water Research to Benefit Canadians

Canadians pay for federal government research. Tax-payers foot the bill when Environment Canada scientists in red parkas gather samples from lakes high in the Arctic, or when research technicians in hip-waders collect sediments from urban ponds close to major highways to analyze for contaminants.

The Canadian public funds research to find out which substances are entering their lakes, rivers, and wetlands, and what effects these might be having on aquatic organisms, or on drinking water. Canadian citizens pay to know if the water quality of the Great Lakes is improving and if climate change will affect how much water Canada will have. Enough for the future? Enough to support a competitive Canadian economy?

The Government of Canada has made a strong commitment to Science & Technology. Freshwater is a priority area and applied and relevant freshwater science ultimately helps ensure clean, safe and secure water for people and ecosystems. A key federal role is to provide scientific knowledge upon which decisions and sound policies and regulations can be based.

For more than 30 years, Environment Canada's National Water Research Institute (NWRI) has conducted water research to benefit Canadians. The Institute has led influential, multi-partner, national assessments of current and emerging threats to water quality, water quantity, and aquatic ecosystem health, producing the scientific knowledge now used by water policy and decision-makers at all levels of government. Recognizing that water is essential to human health, key to the health of the environment, and vital to the economic strength and competitiveness of Canadian agriculture and industry, NWRI has become a world leader in freshwater issues.

As Canada's largest freshwater research institution, with more than 300 staff including aquatic ecologists, hydrologists, toxicologists, physical geographers, modellers, limnologists, environmental chemists, and technicians working across Canada, NWRI has made major contributions to restoration of the Great Lakes, reductions in acid rain, regulation of toxic substances, creation of international atmospheric conventions, and has helped shape environmental management of Canadian freshwater resources, from the smallest stream to the largest watershed in Canada.

This report presents 11 stories describing past successes and work in progress - and there are many more yet to tell. It is about research that has given Canadians what they pay for: greater knowledge about threats to their water; practical, applied science that has supported and continues to support development of regulations, guidelines, policies and international agreements; and the tangible economic and health benefits that stem from sound stewardship of our aquatic resources.

Publishing Information

© Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada 2005

This report is only available electronically. It can be downloaded from the NWRI web site:

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Main entry under title:

Research into action to benefit Canadians

(NWRI scientific assessment report series, ISSN 1499-5905; no. 6)

Issued also in French under title: La recherche, fondement de décisions prises pour le bénéfice des Canadiens.

Includes bibliographical references.

ISBN 0-662-39673-1

Cat. no. En40-237/6-2005E

1. Water quality - Research - Canada.
2. Water - Research - Canada.
3. Water - Pollution - Research - Canada.
4. Water - Government policy - Canada.
I. Brannen, Leah.
II. Schaefer, Karl Alfred, 1963-.
III. Bielak, Alexander T. (Alexander Thomas), 1953-.
IV. National Water Research Institute ( Canada )
V. Series.

TD424.4C3R32 2005 363.739'4'072071 C2005-980078-X


PDF:     En40-237/6-2005E-PDF

HTML:     En40-237/6-2005E-HTML

This report may be cited as follows:

Brannen, L., K. Schaefer and A.T. Bielak. 2005. Research into Action to Benefit Canadians. National Water Research Institute, Burlington, Ontario. NWRI Scientific Assessment Report Series No. 6. 43 p.

Photo credits:

Cover photo (also used as page headers): "Trilight" reproduced courtesy of Scott McGee ( The photograph shows the Llewellyn Glacier stretching into the distance to Atlin Lake, the largest natural lake in British Columbia. It is lit up by the aurora borealis, the setting sun and the rising moon.

Ray Semkin (p. 11), Alberta Environment (p. 15), David Riecks, CD: Visualizing the Great Lakes (p. 17), Derek Muir (p. 20), Corel Corporation, CD: O Canada (p. 23), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (p. 26), (p. 29), Mike Benner (p. 32), Basel Action Network (p. 36), Daniel Peters (p. 37), Tom Murphy (p. 41).


The authors would like to thank Tracie Greenberg, John Lawrence, Kristin May, Grazyna Modzynski and Fred Wrona for graphic support, editorial and/or manuscript review.

Key Scientific Publications

A small selection of key publications related to subjects dealt with in this report are provided below. NWRI scientists have been instrumental in all of them either as authors, editors or as research team leaders.

AMAP. 2004. AMAP assessment 2002: persistent organic pollutants in the Arctic. Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), Oslo, Norway. 310 p.

Amos, C.L., I.G. Droppo and T.P. Murphy. 2003. The stability of a remediated bed in Hamilton Harbour, Lake Ontario, Canada. Sedimentology 50: 149-168.

BFR. 2004. The Third International Workshop on Brominated Flame Retardants. University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, June 6-9, 2004.

Chambers, P.A., M. Guy, E.S. Roberts, M.N. Charlton, R. Kent, C. Gagnon, G. Grove and N. Foster. 2001. Nutrients and their impact on the Canadian environment. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Health Canada and Natural Resources Canada. National Guidelines and Standards Office, Environment Canada, Hull, Québec. 241 p.

Charlton, M.N. and J.E. Milne. 2004. Review of thirty years of change in Lake Erie water quality. National Water Research Institute, Environment Canada, Burlington/Saskatoon, NWRI Contribution No. 04-167.

Chau, Y.K., R.J. Maguire, M. Brown, F. Yang and S.P. Batchelor. 1997. Occurrence of organotin compounds in the Canadian aquatic environment five years after the regulation of antifouling uses of tributyltin. Water Qual. Res. J. Canada 32: 453-521.

Environment Canada. 2001. Threats to sources of drinking water and aquatic ecosystem health in Canada. National Water Research Institute, Burlington, Ontario. NWRI Scientific Assessment Report Series No. 1. 72 p.

Environment Canada. 2004. Threats to water availability in Canada. National Water Research Institute, Burlington, Ontario. NWRI Scientific Assessment Report Series No. 3 and ACSD Science Assessment Series No. 1. 128 p.

Environment Canada. 2005. 2004 Canadian Acid Deposition Science Assessment [CD-ROM].

Jensen, J., K. Adhare and R. Shearer (ed.). 1997. Canadian Arctic contaminants assessment report. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Ottawa.

Maguire, R.J. 2000. Review of the persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity of tributyltin (TBT) in aquatic environments in relation to Canada 's Toxic Substances Management Policy. Water Qual. Res. J. Canada 35: 633-679.

Marsalek, J. 1982. Road and bridge deck drainage systems. Report RR 228, Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications, ISSN 022807048, Toronto, Ontario.

Murphy, T.P. and M. Kumagai. 2003. Eutrophication control by sediment treatment: common assumptions and misconceptions, p. 59-80. In M. Munawar (ed.), Sediment quality assessment and management: insight and progress. Goodword Books, New Delhi.

Prowse, T.D., S. Beltaos, B. Bonsal, T. Carter, M.C. English, T. Gardner, J.J. Gibson, D.L. Peters and L. Romolo. 2004. Hydro-climatic impacts affecting the Peace-Athabasca-Slave catchments and deltas. In Environment Canada, Northern Rivers Ecosystem Initiative: Collective Findings [CD-ROM].  Compiled by F.M. Conly, Saskatoon, SK, 2004.  (With Alberta Environment).

Prowse, T.D., D. Peters, S. Beltaos, A. Pietroniro, L. Romolo, J. Töyrä and R. Leconte. 2002. Restoring ice-jam floodwater to a drying delta ecosystem. Water Int. 27(1): 58-69.

Servos, M.R., E. Innes, J. Given, K. Ostapyk, E. Topp, R. McInnis and M.E. Starodub. 2002. Assessment and management of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the Canadian environment: proceedings of a multi-stakeholder workshop. Environment Canada and Health Canada Special Publication. 78 p.

Weeber, R.C., D.S. Jeffries and D.K. McNicol. 2005. Recovery of aquatic ecosystems, chapter 7. In 2004 Canadian Acid Deposition Science Assessment, Environment Canada [CD-ROM].

Zaitlin, B., S.B. Watson, J. Ridal, T. Satchwill and D. Parkinson. 2003. Actinomycetes in Lake Ontario : habitats and geosmin and MIB production. J. Amer. Water Works Assoc. ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry 95(2): 113.

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