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March / April 2010

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

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Science Notes

New Study Highlights need for Strong Wetland Protection in the Prairies

Small seasonal wetland located in cultivated field - at-risk to margin and basin degradation | Photo provided by Bob ClarkUsing a novel method to estimate impact and recovery rates for the margins and basins of Canadian prairie wetlands, scientists have documented widespread wetland degradation, and have offered various conservation recommendations for stronger wetland protection. Analyzing long-term data sets from three Prairie provinces, scientists considered which wetlands may be at risk of highest impact and lowest recovery rates. They recommended that ephemeral, seasonal, and existing pristine wetlands should be considered a conservation priority. Of those, the wetlands in cultivated and pasture land were at highest risk of impact.

Results also have implications when considering wetland-associated species’ conservation. Scientists recommend their methodology could be used to measure recovery and impact rates from additional inputs in response to changes in policies or other interventions.

Bartzen, B.A., K.W. Dufour, R.G. Clark and F.D. Caswell. 2010. Trends in agricultural impact and recovery of wetlands in prairie Canada. Ecological Applications. In press.

Groundwater Resources in South Simcoe County

Dr. John Spoelstra is a partner on a new Ontario Geological Survey project to map the groundwater resources of south Simcoe County. The area, located south of Barrie, Ontario, will face increasing pressure on groundwater resources from projected population growth and from intensive, irrigation-dependent agricultural activities. The three-year project includes mapping of the Quaternary deposits that form the regional and local aquifers/aquitards and analysis of groundwater age and geochemistry. The information generated from the field components of the study will be used to develop an interactive 3-D model of hydrostratigraphy in south Simcoe County. The project is a collaboration between the Ontario Geological Survey, Geological Survey of Canada, Environment Canada, Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, and York-Peel-Durham-Toronto Conservation Authorities Moraine Coalition.

Best Paper Award in Environmental Engineering – Improving Water Quality in Toronto

Cheng He and Jiri Marsalek won the 2009 Canadian Society for Civil Engineering Award for the best paper on a civil engineering subject in the area of environmental engineering, the Donald R. Stanley Award. Using two hydraulic (scale) models and a computational fluid dynamics model, the authors conceptually redesigned the existing North Toronto CSO Storage and Treatment Facility. The new design retains outer walls of the existing structure, but completely changes flow arrangements inside the facility. The proposed changes substantially increase the capacity of the modified facility, thereby significantly reducing discharges of CSO pollution into the environment. The study was done in collaboration with the City of Toronto in support of the Remedial Action Plan efforts aiming to improve water quality in the Toronto and Region Area of Concern.

He, C. and J. Marsalek. 2009. Hydraulic optimization of a combined sewer overflow (CSO) storage facility using numerical and physical modelling. Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering 36: 363-373.

Environment Canada and National Pesticide Science Fund Water Surveillance

Ed Sverko and Steve Cagampan of the National Laboratory for Environmental Testing (NLET) are two of the 14 principal investigators for the national Pesticide Science Fund Surveillance Project. NLET will provide quality assured analysis and advice for determining neutral herbicides and sulfonyl urea and related herbicides for the study. The objective is to survey the presence and concentration of these herbicides, as well as glyphosate, in selected agricultural streams and rivers in Canada. The study is a continuation of the work undertaken last year and investigations will occur at the same sites. Reference/background sites will be identified to facilitate analysis and interpretation of results. The network has developed a consistent approach for sampling and measuring pesticides across Canada and will provide a national perspective of the occurrence and fate of these pesticides.

Selenium in the Aquatic Environment – Science to Assist in Management and Regulation

Cover: Ecological Assessment of Selenium in the Aquatic EnvironmentIn 2009, the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) hosted a workshop on the current understanding of the behaviour and effects of selenium (Se) in the aquatic environment. The workshop assembled 46 individuals from around the globe involved in research and/or management of selenium. Several Canadians participated in the workshop, including two Environment Canada staff, Mark Wayland and Patrick Shaw. The outcome of the workshop is a SETAC volume, Ecological Assessment of Selenium in the Aquatic Environment, published in late April. The volume contains important insight into the effects of elevated Se and is a solid base for selenium management and regulatory activities underway in both Canada and the United States.


Pesticides in Quebec

The Quebec Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Section (WQMS-QC) recently hosted a regional scientific workshop on pesticides present in water in agricultural areas. Participants came from Environment Canada’s S&T Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Quebec Ministère du Développement durable de l’Environnement et des Parcs, the Quebec Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation, the Université du Québec à Montréal, and the Institut national de recherche scientifique.

The workshop provided an overview of participants’ work in the field of pesticides and attendees agreed there is a need for greater integration and collaboration in projects focussing on the search for, management of, and response to pesticides in water. The event generated numerous ideas for cooperation and joint action, specifically in relation to the Yamaska River drainage basin. Discussions identified the main challenges, needs and deficiencies. Another meeting will be planned with all interested stakeholders to advance these projects.

2009 Annual International Joint Commission Report on the St. Croix River

In collaboration with Martin Léger and staff at the Atlantic Laboratory for Environmental Testing (ALET), Denis Parent and David Benoit of Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Atlantic ensured that water quality data collected by Environment Canada and staff from the New Brunswick Department of Environment during 2009 met QA/QC standards and was delivered on time for this Canada-U.S. report. The contribution included integrating grab sample data (taken monthly) and real-time automated station data (taken on an hourly basis).

This document is an important reporting tool for presenting environmental issues and challenges related to the transboundary river between Canada and U.S. Reporting is led by the International St. Croix River Watershed Board and a report is produced annually. 

Recent Publications

Frank, R.A., H. Sanderson, R. Kavanagh, B.K. Burnison, J.V. Headley and K.R. Solomon. 2010. Use of a (quantitative) structure-activity relationship [(Q)SAR] model to predict the toxicity of naphthenic acids. J. Toxicol. Environ. Health Part A 73: 319-329.

Gagnon, C., P. Turcotte and B. Vigneault. 2009. Comparative study of the fate and mobility of metals discharged in mining and urban effluents using sequential extractions on suspended solids. Environ. Geochem. Health 31: 657-671.

Gheorghiu, C., D.J. Marcogliese and M.E. Scott. 2009. Temporal dynamics of epidermal responses of guppies (Poecilia reticulata) to a sublethal range of waterborne zinc concentrations. J. Fish Biol. 75: 2642-2656.

Hasselman, D.J., T.A. Edge and R.G. Bradford. 2010. Discrimination of the endangered Atlantic whitefish (Coregonus huntsmani Scott, 1987) from lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) and round whitefish (Prosopium cylindraceum) using external characters. North Am. J. Fish. Manag. 29: 1046-1057.

Jeffries, D.S., R.G. Semkin, J.J. Gibson and I. Wong. 2010. Recently surveyed lakes in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Canada: characteristics and critical loads of acidity. J. Limnol. 69(Suppl. 1): 45-55.  DOI: 10.3274/JL10-69-S1-06

Kavanagh, R.J., B.K. Burnison, R.A. Frank, K.R. Solomon and G. Van Der Kraak. 2009. Detecting oil sands process-affected waters in the Alberta oil sands region using synchronous fluorescence spectroscopy. Chemosphere 76: 120-126.

Locke, S., J.D. McLaughlin, S. Dayanandan and D.J. Marcogliese. 2010. Diversity, specificity and evidence of hybridization in Diplostomum spp. metacercaiae in freshwater fishes is revealed by DNA barcodes and ITS sequences. Int. J. Parasitol. 40: 333-343.

McMaster, M.E., G. Tetreault, T. Barrett, K.R. Munkittrick and J. Sherry. 2009. Wild fish from Canadian Areas of Concern evaluated using environmental effects monitoring endpoints. Presented at the 10th Annual Meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Latin America, Lima, Peru, October 5-9, 2009.

Parrott, J.L., M.E. McMaster, S. Verma and D. Trowbridge. 2008. Exposure to model-scale sewage treatment plant effluent affects circulating sex steroids in rainbow trout. Water Qual. Res. J. Canada 43(4): 257-282.

Valtonen, E.T., D.J. Marcogliese and M. Julkunen. 2010. Vertebrate diets derived from trophically transmitted fish parasites in the Bothnian Bay. Oecologia 162: 139-152.

Whitfield, P.H., A. St-Hilaire and G. van der Kamp. 2009. Improving hydrological predictions in peatlands. Canadian Water Resources Journal 34(4): 467-478.

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