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Water Science News
By:  S&T Liaison
March / April 2009

March / April 2009


Science Notes

Canadian Rivers Institute – “a great investment”

  • Image of a river | Photo: photos.comSince its creation in 1997, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation has committed approximately $4.5 billion in support to 129 research institutions across Canada, including investments in the Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI) at the University of New Brunswick (UNB).  Drs. Alex Bielak and Donald Baird participated in a recent Outcome Measurement Study (OMS) of CRI activities to assess the success of the Foundation’s investment. Dr. Baird spoke about his role as one of several federal scientists embedded within CRI, while Dr. Bielak presented data showing increased research linkages between CRI and Environment Canada since the inception of the Institute. He also spoke as part of a panel on impacts on local, regional and national innovation. As the OMS coordinator wrote: “…we already ‘suspected’ that our investment at UNB for research in river ecosystems and aquatic ecology was a good one. Now we know that it was a great investment…”

Ontario Source Water Protection Advisory Committee

  • Hamilton Harbour | Photo: Scott UngerOntario has recently put in place a new Clean Water Act and source water protection regime for drinking water across the province. Source water protection committees will be preparing assessment reports to identify vulnerable source water areas, including wellhead protection areas and surface water intake protection zones.  The assessment reports will identify threats to these vulnerable areas, and protection plans will then be developed by source water protection committees. Dr. Tom Edge has been invited to provide waterborne pathogen expertise as a member of the Risk Management Advisory Committee, which recently held a first meeting to review progress towards developing risk management measures for protecting source water for drinking.

Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) Initiative

  • Environment Canada has released the fourth annual results of the Water Quality Index under the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) Initiative. CESI is produced by Environment Canada in partnership with Health Canada and Statistics Canada, supported by provincial and territorial contributions. Water quality at almost half of monitoring sites in southern Canada is rated as “good” or “excellent.” All the results can be accessed through the redesigned CESI Initiative website, which presents information in a more concise and less technical manner, identifies links to key social and economic pressures and drivers, enables viewing and searching of local and regional information via maps, and, for the first time, compares Canada’s performance with that of several other countries.

Northwest Territories Water Strategy Workshop, Yellowknife, NT

  • The Government of Northwest Territories and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada co-hosted a workshop in March to guide development of a territorial water strategy. This was the third of seven workshops to be held before the release of a strategy in fall 2009. Participants came from various federal and territorial government departments, as well as land and water boards, aboriginal self governments, industry, and environmental NGOs. They discussed current sources of, and gaps in, water-related information in the Northwest Territories, as well as procedures for accessing and sharing information needed for water management decisions.  Anita Gue presented on Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance activities in the Northwest Territories, including the baseline water quality monitoring network, automated water quality monitoring, and Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) biomonitoring. Environment Canada’s Randy Wedel (Water Survey of Canada) and Jesse Jasper (Strategic Integration, Mackenzie River Basin Board Secretariat) also participated.

Supporting the Multi-Stakeholder Working Group for Environmental Management of Road Salts

  • A Multi-Stakeholder Working Group meeting was held in Ottawa in April to advance implementation of the Code of Practice on road salts. Group members shared knowledge from recent initiatives and research on road salts management from across the country, reviewed data on road salt practices submitted to Environment Canada, and initiated planning of preparation of the Status Report to be submitted in 2010. Dr. Jiri Marsalek presented an overview of best practices for snow storage, illustrated by a case study (J. Marsalek, K. Exall and Q. Rochfort; Best practices for snow storage: a case study of the Richmond Hill facility) and agreed to participate in preparation of the 2010 Status Report.

Black Brook Agricultural Pesticides – New Brunswick

  • Fish kills in Prince Edward Island rivers have drawn attention to the ecological risks posed by poor timing and application practices of pesticides in potato cropping systems. Hosted by New Brunswick’s Mark Boldon of the Department of the Environment and Sandi McGeachy of the Department of Aquaculture and Agriculture, a one-day workshop at the Potato Research Centre in Fredericton, New Brunswick, gave interested parties an opportunity to discuss research strategies to investigate pesticide impacts on surface waters and groundwater in the potato belt near Grand Falls, NB. Representatives from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), the Eastern Canada Soil & Water Conservation Centre, the Pesticide Management Regulatory Agency of Health Canada, and the PEI Department of the Environment participated.
  • Water Science and Technology staff made presentations: Bill Ernst spoke on pesticide hits and levels observed in surface waters in the potato production region of Grand Falls; Mark Hewitt focussed on fish health in the Black Brook and Little River watersheds; and Glenn Benoy gave a presentation on aquatic habitat and biological assessment techniques developed through the National Agri-Environmental Standards Initiative. A cooperative (Environment Canada/AAFC/Province of New Brunswick) strategy is being developed to interpret results and communicate findings of pesticides monitoring programs.

Research Consortium on Sediment in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Ecosystem

  • A new consortium of scientists from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Environment Canada (EC) was created in March to facilitate exchanges and collaborations between federal partners and promote integrated research and monitoring of sediment contamination in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence ecosystem. At this stage, the following people are involved: Dr. Michel Lebeuf, DFO, Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Mont-Joli; Dr. Chris Marvin, EC, Canada Centre for Inland Waters, Burlington; and Bernard Rondeau and Magella Pelletier, EC, Quebec Water Quality Monitoring (QWQM), Montreal. The discussions led to a draft mandate and a list of activities that could be carried out by the consortium. The next meeting will be held in fall 2009 at the 36th Aquatic Toxicity Workshop.

State of the Lake Report:  Lake Winnipeg

  • Water Science and Technology staff (Malcolm Conly, Lucie Leveque and John Lawrence) met with representatives of Manitoba Water Stewardship in March to discuss development of a joint ‘State of Lake Winnipeg Report.’  Currently there are over ten years of water quality data available on Lake Winnipeg that have not been collectively compiled, analyzed and assessed in the context of other historic data for Lake Winnipeg.  Preparation of this State of the Lake Report will provide an important foundation for interpreting current research and studies supported by the Lake Winnipeg Basin Initiative. Compilation of this monitoring data on Lake Winnipeg over the past decade will be important in assessing the status and trends of nutrient contributions to the Lake, and will contribute to establishment of realistic and measurable nutrient objectives.

Canadian Mercury Science Assessment

  • Environment Canada’s Atmospheric Science and Technology Directorate organized a workshop in March to bring together government and university scientists involved in mercury research and monitoring in Canada, and start the process to develop a Canadian Mercury Science Assessment report for 2013. Two projects with major participation from Water Science and Technology, the CARA (Clean Air Regulatory Agenda) "FISHg" project and the CARA "Trends" projects, were among several presentations. FISHg, part of the CARA Ecological Mapping project (headed by Neil Burgess of Wildlife and Landscape Science Directorate), is being implemented by a national team from Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance, including Taina Tuominen and Sean Backus. In 2008, the FISHg project sampled 17 water bodies across Canada for mercury in predatory and prey fish, as well as in water.

  • The CARA "Trends" project, headed by Derek Muir and including participation by Jane Kirk and Marlene Evans, involves collection and analysis of sediment cores, as well as fish and food web samples, from lakes near the metals smelter at Flin Flon Manitoba and near the coal fired power plants on Wabamun Lake, Alberta. Both projects have recently completed the first year of a three-year project to measure a baseline concentrations of mercury prior to the implementation of CARA regulations in 2011. The information generated by the FISHg and Trends projects will contribute directly to the Canadian Mercury Science Assessment report and to Canada's preparation for the global negotiations on an international mercury treaty to deal with world-wide mercury emissions.

Future of the Niagara River Toxics Management Plan (NRTMP)

  • The NRTMP has been called a model of international co-operation by the IJC.  In the 20 years since its inception, much progress has been made with significant reductions in the concentration of many historical pollutants. The Niagara River Secretariat (NRS) hosted a workshop/videoconference at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters, Burlington, to discuss and present options for the future of the NRTMP.  The workshop was well attended with representatives from various New York state agencies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environment Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and the local conservation authority.  Participants provided the NRS with feedback on the proposed options.  The results of these discussions and recommendations will be included in an Options Paper to be presented to the Coordinating Committee in the summer of 2009.

Papers and Reports

Recent Research from Environment Canada’s Water S&T

  • Blaise, C. and F. Gagné. 2009. Bioassays and biomarkers, two pillars of ecotoxicology: past, present and prospective uses. Fresenius Environ. Bull. 18(2): 135-139.
  • Chambers, P.A., G.A. Benoy, R.B. Brua and J.M. Culp. 2008. Eutrophication of agricultural streams: defining nutrient concentrations to protect ecological condition, p. 260-261. In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Integrated Diffuse Pollution Management (IWA DIPCON 2008), Khon Kaen, Thailand.
  • Clarence, S., S. Brown, M. McMaster, E. Dussault and J. Sherry. 2009. Are brown bullhead (Ameirus nebulosus) in the Cornwall Area of Concern exposed to environmental estrogens? Presented at the 44th Central Canadian Symposium on Water Quality Research, Feb. 23 and 24, CCIW, Burlington, Ontario.
  • Clarence, S., A. Muttray, C. Reinisch, S. St-Jean, S. Baldwin and J. Sherry. 2009. Cancer regulating proteins in neoplastic Mytilus edulis and Mytilus trossulus from contaminated sites in the Greater Vancouver Region. Poster presented at the 44th Central Canadian Symposium on Water Quality Research, Feb. 23 and 24, CCIW, Burlington, Ontario.
  • Couillard, Y., L.C. Grapentine, U. Borgmann, P. Doyle and S. Masson. 2008. The amphipod Hyalella azteca as a biomonitor in field deployment studies for metal mining. Environ. Pollut. 156: 1314-1324.
  • Creed, I.F., F.D. Beall, T.A. Clair, P.J. Dillon and R.H. Hesslein. 2008. Predicting export of dissolved organic carbon from forested catchments in glaciated landscapes with shallow soils. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 22: GB4024, doi:10.1029/2008GB003924.
  • Droppo, I.G., S.N. Liss, D. Williams, T. Nelson, C. Jaskot and B. Trapp. 2009. The dynamic existence of waterborne pathogens within river sediment compartments – Implications for water quality regulatory affairs.  Environmental Science and Technology 43(6): 1737-1743.
  • Dussault, E.B., M.E. McMaster, J.L. Parrott, J.P. Sherry and S.B. Brown. 2009. The use of principal component analysis for an assessment of the health status of wild fish from Wheatley Harbour, Ontario. Presented at the 44th Central Canadian Symposium on Water Quality Research, Feb. 23 and 24, CCIW, Burlington, Ontario.
  • Elsbury, K.E., A. Paytan, N.E. Ostrom, C. Kendall, M.B. Young, K. McLaughlin, M.E. Rollog and S. Watson. Using oxygen isotopes of phosphate to trace phosphorus sources and cycling in Lake Erie.  Environmental Science and Technology, Article ASAP Publication Date (Web): March 27, 2009.
  • Grapentine, L.C. 2009. Determining degradation and restoration of benthic conditions for Great Lakes Areas of Concern. Journal of Great Lakes Research 35: 36-44.  doi: 10.1016/j.jglr.2008.09.002
  • Hamblin, P.F. and W.M. Schertzer. 2008. Lake Erie hydrodynamics: regime, variability and potential changes, p. 45-77. In M. Munawar and R. Heath (ed.), Checking the Pulse of Lake Erie. Ecovision World Monograph Series, Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management Society, Burlington, Ont., Canada.
  • Marcogliese, D.J., K.C. King, H. Sato, M. Fournier, P. Brousseau, P. Spear, L. Champoux, J.D. McLaughlin and M. Boily. 2009. Interactions between agriculture and parasitism: effects on biomarkers in the bullfrog, Rana catasbeiana. Aquat. Toxicol. 91: 126-134.
  • Marsh, P., M. Russell, S. Pohl, H. Haywood and C. Onclin. 2009. Changes in thaw lake drainage in the Western Canadian Arctic from 1950 to 2000. Hydrological Processes 23: 145-158.
  • McGoldrick, D.J., J. Metcalfe-Smith, M.T. Arts, D.W. Schloesser, T.J. Newton, G.L. Mackie, E.M. Monroe, J. Biberhofer and K. Johnson. 2009. Characteristics of a refuge for native freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) in Lake St. Clair. Journal of Great Lakes Research 35: 137-146. doi: 10.1016/j.jglr.2008.11.007
  • Resler, O. and W.M. Schertzer. 2009. Graphical representation of primary outputs from energy balance computations conducted on Lake Erie lakewide (1950-1997). Environment Canada, National Water Research Institute, Burlington, Ontario, NWRI Contribution No. 08-552.

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