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January / February 2009

January / February 2009

In this issue:

Science Notes

Papers and Reports

About this e-news


Science Notes

Algae growth on rocks in a stream | Credit: Alberta EnvironmentRecent News on Cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)

  • Local health agencies and other stakeholders heard news recently from Dr. Sue Watson on cyanobacterial blooms and management in Hamilton Harbour, Lake Ontario. The Harbour remains at a moderately eutrophic level, and together with the increased transparency, nutrient levels are sufficient to fuel development of severe late summer blooms of cyanobacteria, some of which may produce toxins. Until recently, local health agencies and managers had no defined protocols to monitor and risk manage these events, and often resorted to unnecessarily prolonged beach postings to minimize risk. Dr. Watson presented data and participated in the initial planning discussion for the establishment of a long-term risk management program.

  • MERHAB-LGL has been a major NOAA-funded multi-partnered program to develop monitoring strategies for harmful algal blooms (HABs) in lakes Erie, Ontario and Champlain. Over the past three years the program has conducted research to evaluate the extent of the HABs problem, and the use of advanced techniques for HABs identification, detection, modelling and prediction, with the overall goal of facilitating proactive HABs risk management and control strategies in the lower Great Lakes. Researchers also coordinate with health and water quality managers in the lakes to raise awareness about HABs and the need for sustained risk management and monitoring.

  • U.S. and Canadian scientists from the Research Foundation for the State University of New York (SUNY), SUNY Brockport, the University at Buffalo, the University of Vermont, Western Michigan University, New York State Sea Grant, the University of Tennessee, the University of Waterloo and Environment Canada have been involved. Now, several investigators are evaluating the most cost effective “alert” protocols to monitor for toxic cyanobacterial blooms and to improve identification and response to freshwater HAB events. The team is developing an integrated HAB alert system of detection methods combining application of satellite, conventional HAB detection methods, and novel quantitative molecular tools to detect, assess, predict, control and mitigate HAB events.

  • Watson, S.B., J. Ridal and G.L. Boyer.  2008.  Taste and odour and cyanobacterial toxins:  impairment, prediction, and management in the Great Lakes. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 65(8): 1779-1796.

  • Bob Bukata and Caren Binding at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington and Guy Létourneau, a remote-sensing specialist with the Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Division in Montreal, are moving ahead with their collaborative project, supported by a two-year agreement with the Canadian Space Agency, to test the use of remote sensing with the MERIS sensor to monitor water quality, including cyanobacterial blooms.  The method initially developed for the Great Lakes will be evaluated to determine its application to other smaller bodies of water.

Canada-British Columbia Water Quality Monitoring Agreement

  • This agreement has been in effect since 1985 and has been a successful cost-effective vehicle for coordinating Environment Canada’s and B.C. Ministry of Environment’s water quality monitoring and reporting needs. It is a cost-shared agreement with costs equally shared between the two parties. The agreement currently includes 42 stations, about half of which are located on trans-boundary or trans-provincial/territorial rivers or major tributaries; several additional sites address significant other federal interest. 

  • Reporting has been accomplished through water quality trend and indicator reports in 2000 and 2007, as well as provision of data from many of the stations for national Canadian Environmental Sustainability Indicators (CESI) reporting. The program and data are also presented online.

  • The biannual Administrators Meeting for the Agreement was convened in Vancouver in January; plans for 2009-2010 were discussed and the Business Plan for 2008-2011 was distributed for review.

Lake Saint-Pierre Wetlands:  Results of a Pilot Project

  • The Quebec Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Section and the Groupe de recherche en Limnologie (GRIL; University of Montréal) released results of a pilot project aimed at using the benthic macroinvertebrates of Lake Saint-Pierre wetlands (St. Lawrence River) to assess the quality of this ecosystem. This study used the methods of the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN).

  • Launched in 2004, this project has described the main environmental factors influencing the littoral benthic communities of this fluvial lake, using various parameters such as taxonomic richness and community structure.  The main environmental factors, in decreasing order of importance, are type of emergent vegetation, water quality and sediment metal contamination.

  • Tall, L., G. Méthot, A. Armellin and B. Pinel-Alloul.  2008.  Bioassessment of benthic macroinvertebrates in wetland habitats of Lake Saint-Pierre (St. Lawrence River). J. Great Lakes Res. 34: 599-614.

Satellite image of the Great Lakes | Credit: Environment CanadaMethods for Assessment of Contaminated Sediments in the Great Lakes

  • At the request of DFO’s Office of Environmental Coordination, Lee Grapentine led a workshop at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters attended by staff from DFO, Public Works and Government Services Canada, and several consultant companies involved in assessments of contaminated freshwater sediments, and interested in accessing data and applying methodology collected and developed by Environment Canada.

  • He gave presentations on methods for determining ecological impacts of contaminated sediments in the Great Lakes, with a focus on procedures for statistical analyses.  Danielle Milani demonstrated a bioassessment analysis for assessing actual sites in an “Area of Concern,” and Tim Pascoe discussed use of an online database and analytical tools, available through the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) website.

New Information on Pesticides in British Columbia

  • Results of 2007 and 2008 current-use pesticides surveillance in surface waters of the Lower Fraser Valley and the Okanagan, British Columbia, were presented by Melissa Gledhill at the annual Pacific & Yukon Pesticide Information Exchange (PIE) in Vancouver.  This meeting was attended by pesticides researchers and stakeholders from all levels of government, universities and industry.

  • A total of 17 different sites – located on ponds, small creeks, larger rivers and a lake – were sampled.  Between two and 23 current-use pesticide active ingredients or degradates out of a possible 50  were detected at every sampling site.Individual pesticide concentrations ranged from less than 1 ng/L to 880 ng/L. 

  • The 10 pesticides found in highest individual concentrations in the Lower Fraser Valley were all herbicides, while in the Okanagan herbicides and insecticides shared the top ten. The surveillance work was conducted under the Pesticide Science Fund. 

Sharing Knowledge, Expertise and Best Practices – Atlantic Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Workshop

  • To enhance collaboration among EC and the Atlantic provinces on water quality monitoring and to seek better ways to deliver water quality monitoring programs and projects through sharing of knowledge, expertise and best practices, EC’s Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Division (WQMSD) – Atlantic Office hosted its first Atlantic Water Quality Monitoring Workshop in Moncton, New Brunswick, January 28-29, attended by over 50 professionals with interests in water quality.

  • Nineteen presentations covered the full spectrum of Atlantic region water quality monitoring and initiatives. In breakout sessions, federal/provincial managers discussed future directions, project staff discussed reporting and monitoring projects, and staff from each environmental laboratory met at the EC Moncton Atlantic Laboratory for Environmental Testing to discuss opportunities for future collaboration.

  • Preliminary outcomes suggest a need for more high-visibility reporting of water quality information to Canadians and the scientific community, and for continued strong cooperation of players in water quality monitoring, while respecting mandate and expertise. The workshop summary, minutes and presentations will be made available.

Animation of monthly composite MODIS water-leaving radiance over the Great Lakes from January 2003 to December 2007 | Credit: Environment CanadaNew on the NWRI Website:  Inland Water Remote Sensing Products

  • The Aquatic Optics and Remote Sensing Group has developed Canadian inland water remote sensing products.  The group works to develop, validate and apply models and algorithms to enable extraction of inland water quality parameters from satellite observations of inland water colour.

  • NWRI has the technology and science in place to acquire and process aquatic colour remote sensing data over Canadian inland waters in near-real-time, producing daily snapshots of inland water conditions on a routine, fully automated basis. 

  • Ongoing research continues to develop and validate techniques for retrieval of specific water quality products including water clarity, suspended particulates and chlorophyll (as an indicator of algal biomass), which will be available online in the near future. 

Lab News – Moving Quality Assurance toward ISO 17025 Standard

  • The microbiology laboratory of the Marine Water Quality Monitoring Program in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, has had a successful first ISO 17025:2005 evaluation. Microbiological analyses support the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP). Other Marine Water Quality Monitoring laboratories in the Atlantic Region (in Newfoundland and New Brunswick) and those in the Pacific and Yukon Region will be evaluated in 2009. Private laboratories supporting the CSSP will be required to meet this standard by April 1, 2010.

Papers and Reports

Recent Research from Environment Canada’s Water S&T

  • Beltaos, S. and T. Prowse. 2009. River-ice hydrology in a shrinking cryosphere. Hydrol. Process. 23: 122-144.
  • Chambers, P., C. Vis, R.B. Brua, M. Guy, J.M. Culp and G.A. Benoy. 2008. Eutrophication of agricultural streams:  defining nutrient concentrations to protect ecological condition. Water Sci. Technol. 58: 2203-2210.
  • 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.
  • Dautremepuits, C., D.J. Marcogliese, A.D. Gendron and M. Fournier. 2009. Gill and head kidney antioxidant processes and innate immune system responses of yellow perch (Perca flavescens) exposed to different contaminants in the St. Lawrence River, Canada. Sci. Tot. Environ. 407: 1055-1064.
  • Marcogliese, D.J. 2008. Interdisciplinarity in marine parasitology.  In I. Afonso-Dias, G. Menezes, K. MacKenzie and J. Eiras (ed.), Proceedings of the international workshop on marine parasitology:  applied aspects of marine parasitology. Arquipélago Suppl. 6: 7-14.
  • Marcogliese, D.J. 2008. The impact of climate change on the parasites and diseases of aquatic animals. Rev. sci. tech. Off. int. Épiz. 27: 467-484.
  • Marcogliese, D.J. 2009. First report of the Asian fish tapeworm in the Great Lakes. J. Great Lakes Res. 34: 566-569.
  • Marcogliese, D.J., K.C. King, H.M. Salo, M. Fournier, P. Brousseau, P. Spear, L. Champoux, J.D. McLaughlin and M. Boily. 2009. Combined effects of agricultural activity and parasites on biomarkers in the bullfrog, Rana catasbeiana. Aquat. Toxicol. 91: 126-134.
  • Pham, S.V., P.R. Leavitt, S. McGowan, B. Wissel and L.I. Wassenaar. 2009. Spatial and temporal variability of prairie lake hydrology as revealed using stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen. Limnol. Oceanogr. 54(1): 101-118.
  • Rouse, W.R., P.D. Blanken, N. Bussières, C.J. Oswald, W.M. Schertzer, C. Spence and A. Walker. 2008. An investigation of the thermal and energy balance regimes of Great Slave and Great Bear lakes. Journal of Hydrometeorology 9: 1318-1333, DOI: 10.1175/2008JHM977.1.
  • Snider, D.M., S.L. Schiff and J. Spoelstra. 2009. 15N/14N and 18O/16O stable isotope ratios of nitrous oxide produced during denitrification in temperate forest soils. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 73: 877-888.
  • van der Kamp, G. and M. Hayashi. 2009. Groundwater-wetland ecosystem interaction in the semiarid glaciated plains of North America. Hydrogeology 17: 203-214, DOI: 10.1007/s10040-008-0367-1.
  • Van Stempvoort, D.R., K. Millar and J.R. Lawrence.  2009.  Accumulation of short-chain fatty acids in an aquitard linked to anaerobic biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons.  Applied Geochemistry 24(1): 77-85.
  • Webster, K.L., I.F. Creed, R.A. Bourbonniere and F.D. Beall. 2008. Controls on the heterogeneity of soil respiration in a tolerant hardwood forest. Journal of Geophysical Research 113: G03018, doi:10.1029/2008JG000706.

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