Freshwater is widely recognized as the most pressing environmental issue of the coming century, as roughly 2 billion humans suffer from scarcity of water for drinking or sanitation. Despite its abundance of freshwater, Canada is experiencing great pressure on both its quality and quantity. Despite impending problems, the Canadian government is de-emphasizing freshwater research, both in its funding for university research and its support for federal departments with a freshwater mandate. This lecture describe some of the current threats to Canadian water, and outlines what we must do to solve them.
This is an excellent presentation and it is beneficial to listen to it all; however, if you have specific interest in hydroelectric or pipelines:
Hydroelectric: go to 34:56
Pipelines and the tar sands: go to 50:00
June 18, 2014 — Water Institute Lecture Series and Faculty of Science Public Lecture Series
Dr. David W. Schindler, Killam Memorial Professor of Ecology, University of Alberta, retired.
Reservoirs represent a significant portion of the freshwater surface on the planet. In Canada, most reservoirs are constructed to provide stable water supply for the generation of hydro-electric power. Particularly in the relatively low topography of the Precambrian Shield, the creation of reservoirs often results in the flooding of large areas of former wetland and upland forest.
By the late 1970’s, researchers recognized that fish populations in many newly-flooded reservoirs were subject to significant increases in tissue concentrations of methyl mercury. Humans relying of these fish for regular food supply were at risk of developing mercury poisoning, which can result in severe damage to the nervous system. What was causing this mercury problem and how could it be mitigated? Continue reading →
Note: This is an excerpt of the original article – access by clicking here.
The federal government states that Fisheries and Oceans Canada no longer need to do this type of research. And yet when we look at the research being conducted at the ELA, the scientific data is sorely needed for a sustainable energy strategy.
One ELA study assesses the effects of hydroelectric development. Hydroelectric dams are often touted as a ‘clean’ energy solution. However, the ELA study raises questions about whether hydroelectric dams have similar impacts as burning fossil fuels.
“There’s a new idea around that reservoirs may be significant sources of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. And we want to test that idea, ”says Drew Bodaly, Research Scientist at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in this Experimental Lakes video (see below). Continue reading →
WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the results of the first comprehensive survey looking at the health of thousands of stream and river miles across the country, finding that more than half – 55 percent – are in poor condition for aquatic life.
“The health of our Nation’s rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters depends on the vast network of streams where they begin, and this new science shows that America’s streams and rivers are under significant pressure,” said Office of Water Acting Assistant Administrator Nancy Stoner. “We must continue to invest in protecting and restoring our nation’s streams and rivers as they are vital sources of our drinking water, provide many recreational opportunities, and play a critical role in the economy.” Continue reading →
ScienceDaily (Oct. 12, 2011) — The scope and intensity of mercury pollution in the Great Lakes region is much greater than previously reported, but additional mercury controls should bring needed improvement, according to a new summary of scientific research on the subject.
Despite general declines in mercury levels in the Great Lakes region over the past four decades, mercury concentrations still exceed human and ecological risk thresholds, especially in inland lakes and rivers, according to the report Great Lakes Mercury Connections: The Extent and Effects of Mercury Pollution in the Great Lakes Region, published in Springer’s journal Ecotoxicology. Also, new research indicates that for some species of fish and wildlife in particular areas, mercury concentrations may again be on the rise. Continue reading →
Methylation is accepted to be a major process controlling the biological availability of mercury, and a number of recent articles and reviews have addressed this process. Recently, the occurrence of elevated mercury in fish tissues from systems in regions considered to be remote from point or local sources of mercury have been documented.
These appear to be related to acidification of surface waters and to recent impoundments, usually in connection with hydroelectric dam construction. The present chapter addresses this second phenomenon, which is being investigated for Canadian Reservoirs by Environmental and Social Systems Analysts (ESSA) Ltd, LGL Associated and the University of Toronto in an ongoing study funded by the Canadian Electrical Association.
Elevated mercury levels have been detected in fish from a number of Canadian reservoirs. A preliminary study in 1976 of approximately 6000 fish throughout Labrador revealed that the highest mercury levels were found in fish from the Smallwood Reservoir and waters of the Churchill River downstream of the Control Structure. The maximum mercury levels in burbot (1.93 Jlwgm) and in lake trout (3.9 Jlwgm) were in fish from the reservoir.” Continue reading →