July / August 2009
July / August 2009
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The Quebec Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Division and partners have released the latest results of the State of the St. Lawrence Monitoring Program through the most recent Overview of the State of the St. Lawrence River, 2008. This diagnosis showed that the St. Lawrence River is judged to be in good to moderately good health for most environmental indicators, including water and sediment quality, water levels, safety of potential swimming sites, and status of bird populations. However, the situation of shore erosion, freshwater fish communities, and toxic contamination of water in some agricultural tributaries is more worrisome, as is the case for emerging substances like polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), whose concentrations are increasing in all compartments of the ecosystem.
Scientists and technical professionals at Environment Canada work together and with external collaborators to produce data and knowledge essential for policies, regulations, enforcement, and federal and international codes and standards to protect the environment. Read about their current research and other S&T activities, awards, affiliations, professional interests, and key publications, searchable by area of expertise, in S&T Expert; or view a listing focussing on EC’s Water S&T Experts.
- Dr. Sue Watson gave an invited presentation, Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs): facts, fiction and fixes, at a recent public forum on cyanobacteria blooms in Sudbury, hosted by the Nickel District Conservation Authority. The meeting was organized in response to public concern and requests for information about an increased number of blooms reported from lakes in the Greater Sudbury Area including Ramsey Lake, one of the major sources of drinking water for the City.
- The meeting was attended by the Ontario Ministry of the environment, City of Sudbury, Laurentian University, the Nickel District Conservation Authority and local property owners and source water protection groups. Dr. Watson provided information about the organisms responsible for these blooms, how to recognize them, their ecology, toxicology and impacts on aquatic ecosystems and aesthetics (including taste-odour), the risks to humans and animals, and the factors controlling these outbreaks. The talk highlighted the importance of risk reduction through vigilance, coupled with long-term nutrient management and stewardship–beginning at the individual and community levels.
A workshop to develop a wetland bioassessment pilot project for Yukon wetlands using the Reference Condition Approach was held in Whitehorse in July, and was attended by Environment Canada researchers across the country, Yukon government, Ducks Unlimited, and interested others. Currently, several other wetland bioassessment projects are in development in the prairie pothole region (Emily Wallace, Nancy Glozier, and Malcolm Conly of Environment Canada in Saskatoon), and in the Montreal and Quebec City areas along the riparian marshes of the St. Lawrence River (Alain Armellin of Environment Canada in Montreal). These studies are being developed through the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) and results will be used to provide a common national protocol for wetland bioassessment to evaluate water quality and ecosystem health.
The International Joint Commission (IJC) established the IUGLS to update Lake Superior regulation rules and investigate whether physical changes to the St. Clair River may have caused lower water levels in lakes Michigan and Huron. To assess Lake Superior regulation rules, the IJC directed the Study Board to review operation of structures controlling Lake Superior outflow in relation to impacts on such operation on water levels and flows, and consequently affected interests. Six interest categories that might be affected by changes in water levels/flows were identified, one of which is ecosystems.
Dr. Patricia Chambers was an independent scientific reviewer of the proposed methodology to assess impacts to ecosystems as a result of changes in Lake Superior regulation rules. She reviewed a strategy document outlining the technical plan for assessing impacts to coastal areas of lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan and Erie. Her comments and that of the other reviewer will be used to improve the study design. Findings from this study on potential ecosystem impacts caused by changes in regulation of Lake Superior are due back to the Study Board in March 2012.
- Beaches along the shores of the Great Lakes have undergone considerable change for the worse during the past several years. Local residents and municipalities along the southern shore of Georgian Bay are concerned and have requested information about causes and solutions. The workshop, Caring for Our Beaches, was held in Midland, Ontario, in July 2009 to help these groups become better informed about issues affecting southern Georgian Bay's beaches. The workshop was attended by mayors, councillors and shoreline residents of the southern Georgian Bay communities.
Environment Canada’s Allan Crowe was an invited speaker at this conference. His presentation, Why have so many of our beaches become so bad?, focussed on both the natural and human causes of the current problems, and also on providing practical techniques that shoreline residents and municipalities can use to protect and restore the beaches. The key message was maintain/restore a natural beach-dune system (high dunes, beach grass, no lawns) to protect water quality and dry sandy conditions at beaches.
To “promote examples of successful innovative approaches to improving stormwater management in Canadian cities, [and] hoping that other practitioners will build on this experience and bring stormwater management practice to the next higher level,” Hans Schreier, University of British Columbia, Institute for Resources & Environment, and Jiri Marsalek, Environment Canada, proposed and co-edited this Special Issue of the Water Quality Research Journal of Canada. Produced by Janet Jardine, Managing Editor, the special issue features an overview written by the co-editors, and 10 papers by authors who presented the most innovative concepts in a series of three regional conferences on innovative stormwater management practices. The conferences were held in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto (2007-2008) under the sponsorship of the Canadian Water Network (CWN) and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). Read the issue overview or the entire issue online.
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