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September - December 2009

Science information for water professionals, policy and decision makers and others interested in effective management of Canada’s water resources

September - December 2009

Science Notes

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Commends…

  • Canada-Ontario Decision-Making Framework CoverIn his October 2009 Annual Report, Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, commented positively on the adoption of the Canada-Ontario Decision-Making Framework for Assessment of Great Lakes Contaminated Sediment. Commissioner Miller noted that the Framework “enhances the scientific assessment process for contaminated sediments” and praised the “comprehensive public consultation and national and international peer-review” conducted as part of its development.
  • The Framework was developed under the Canada-Ontario Agreement (COA) jointly by Environment Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment to harmonize federal and provincial approaches to sediment assessment. EC members of the COA Sediment Task Group, which oversaw the Framework development, were Janette Anderson (co-chair), Lee Grapentine, Roger Santiago and Michael Zarull.

RésEau and CESI – Among Top Ten Water Websites in Canada

  • The RésEau and Canadian Environmental Sustainable Indicators (CESI) websites were selected as two of the ten outstanding Canadian websites to be cited for Water Day, Geography Awareness Week 2009, by the Canadian Association of Geographers. Co-led by EC's Water S&T and Strategic Integration directorates, the RésEau project built partnerships with Health Canada and NRCan, provincial governments, ENGOs, community organizations and schools.  It is a Government On-Line demonstration initiative that focuses on water information.  
  • RésEau supports clean, safe, and secure water for all Canadians and ecosystems. The CESI website presents key national environmental indicators, showing status and trends on water quality, air quality and greenhouse gases. CESI is built on extended partnership involving Health Canada, Statistics Canada and all provinces and territories in Canada. EC Water S&T (Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Division) has been a strong supporter – in collaboration with Strategic Information and Integration Division – of this national initiative that gives Canadians updated and relevant information on major environmental concerns, an initiative now recognized as part of the Canada Action Plan.

Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI)

  • Ontario Water Quality Monitoring Staff at the CSMI Steering Committee Meeting | Photo: Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance, Environment CanadaOntario Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Staff co-organized and participated in the Inaugural Cooperative Science and Monitoring Initiative (CSMI) Steering Committee Meeting in Windsor, Ontario. CSMI was developed to help coordinate science programs on the Great Lakes, as well as undertake programs to address issues identified by the Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP) management teams and their partners. This approach helps bring together numerous federal, provincial and state agencies, as well as other partners, such as the International Joint Commission’s (IJC) Council of Great Lakes Research Managers (CGLRM), the Great Lakes Research Information Network (GLRIN), and the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission (GLFC) to work on issues in the Great Lakes based on a rotational cycle, where one lake is the primary focus for the year. 
  • This multi-agency initiative provides enhanced science delivery by combining efforts, where operationally possible, to tackle key information needs/gaps. The science is communicated to the clients for effective and efficient adaptive management decision making. John Lawrence (EC) and Paul Horvatin (U.S. EPA) co-chaired the meeting.  A subsequent meeting is planned for January 2010 to further the process of science coordination in the Great Lakes.

New Invasive Shrimp Species in the St. Lawrence River Associated with Shipping

  • Microscope picture of Hemimysis anomala, or red-blooded shrimp | Photo: Dr. Jerome Marty, St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental SciencesAs part of a new research collaboration on the effects of non-indigenous species on the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River ecosystem, Dr. Yves de Lafontaine and Dr. Jerome Marty from the St. Lawrence River Institute for Environmental Sciences completed a first sampling program to confirm the presence of Hemimysis anomala, also named the red-blooded shrimp, that was first discovered in the Great Lakes in 2006 and in the St. Lawrence River in 2008. Sampling was conducted at night between September 28-30 in the vicinity of the Port of Montreal. Out of 15 stations visited, the new invader was only found at protected sites within the harbour, mostly along the walls, where densities were over 1000 per cubic metre. Both quantitative and qualitative samples were collected for information on population dynamics, population genetic structure and chemical analyses. Results will be compared to similar data collected in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to assess possible differences between lake versus river populations of this new invasive species.

St. Lawrence River is getting warmer

  • Aerial view of the St. Lawrence River near Montréal | Photo: Christiane Hudon, Environment CanadaA team of scientists based at the St. Lawrence Centre has recently published an article analyzing historical variations of water temperature and level between 1919 and 2007 for the St. Lawrence River near Montreal. Mean annual water temperature rose by 1.3°C between 1960 and 2007. None of the coldest years and six of the ten warmest years were observed since 1981. In addition, between 1919 and 2007, mean annual level and the magnitude of spring flood decreased significantly, as a result of cumulative human activities (control of ice jams, regulation, shoreline modifications, excavation of river bed). Taken together, alterations of spring temperatures and water level conditions exert major effects on the reproductive success of northern pike, yellow perch and common carp.

Workshop on the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators-Water Quality Indicator (WQI), Saskatoon, SK, November 4-5, 2009

  • This meeting was held to address improvements on the “national comparability,” and was attended by 42 representatives from all provinces and territories as well as EC regions. Discussions included the path forward in terms of core sites for WQI, optimal range of parameters, target samples considering intra- and inter-watershed consistency.
  • Presentations were made on statistical tools to optimize the use of networks, nutrients trends, national consistency in selecting key parameters, approach to produce a corrected WQI based on seasonality, new techniques for metals sampling, and new QA/QC process embedded in the WQI calculator and database. Poster presentations covered integrated monitoring with land use intensity factors, benthic invertebrates assessment, remote sensing techniques for complementary indicator (e.g., algal blooms), and historical perspectives on water quality indices since the 1960s including a review of the U.S. approach.

Integrated Thompson River Monitoring Program Meeting

  • The annual Integrated Thompson River Monitoring Program Meeting was hosted by the City of Kamloops and brought together a range of stakeholders (federal, provincial and municipal governments, industry representatives and First Nations) to discuss the state of water quality in the Thompson River. Ayisha Yeow (Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Division) was invited to participate and presented the latest status and trends information from the long-term water quality monitoring station at the Thompson River site at Spences Bridge, which is operated under the Canada-BC Water Quality Monitoring Agreement.  As the end of a six-year partnership program is nearing, the meeting closed with a discussion on identifying data gaps and future monitoring directions for the Thompson River.

CABIN Launch in Natural Resources Diploma Program, Aurora College, NWT

  • CABIN workshop participants at Aurora College, NWT | Photo: Sarah Hall, National Water Quality Monitoring, Environment CanadaSarah Hall, Tara Paull and Rob Phillips of the National Water Quality Monitoring Office delivered a 3-day CABIN (Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network program) certification workshop at Aurora College, Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. Formally adopted into the college’s 2-year Natural Resources Diploma Program, this CABIN training is a legacy capacity development commitment under EC’s 5-year International Polar Year (IPY) Arctic Freshwater Hydrology and Ecology Study.
  • Participants included students and instructors from Aurora College and Aurora Research Institute in Inuvik, and Parks Canada Agency field staff from Inuvik. This inaugural CABIN college training together with similar developments in NWT secondary school curricula will strengthen NWT’s northern-based awareness, education and S&T capacity in enhanced aquatic ecosystems management.  Next steps under this IPY project include implementing subsequent certification training in conjunction with Nunavut Arctic College (Iqaluit, NU). EC will also pilot a train-the-trainers approach with NWT and NU colleges to enhance northern-based scientific and technical capacity-building while strengthening the CABIN national network for EC and its government and non-government partners.

EC’s Science & Technology RSS feed: A useful new tool for S&T users

Papers and Reports

A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium, November 18-20, 2009

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