Closing Down Water Monitoring in the North: Bad Idea, Bad Policy
OTTAWA – The federal government should reverse its decision to save money by closing down 21 of 23 water monitoring stations in the north.
"The arctic water monitoring system is our early warning system. The data tell us what is happening with water quality and pollution. Knowing what's in the water can prevent Walkerton like tragedies. The Prime Minister is right that development leads to pollution, but with the information from water monitoring stations in the north we can develop plans to minimize those impacts on public health, wildlife and the environment," said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada.
Monitoring stations regularly measure physicochemical parameters such as temperature, pH, alkalinity, major ions, nutrients and metals.
According to Environment Canada, water monitoring allows Canada to:
- deliver on commitments under international and federal-provincial agreements and waters of national concerns such as Great Lakes, Lake Winnipeg Basin and Lake Simcoe by assessing the degree of physical, chemical threats and/or biological impairments that can occur in the water, sediments or the resident aquatic biota;
- provide information to meet the Canadian Environmental Protection Act requirements such as issue-based surveillance for key substances in support of the Chemical Management Plan and Clean Air Regulatory Agenda; and
- obtain regular data and information for reporting to Canadians related to the water quality component of the Canadian Environmental Sustainability Initiative.
"Science is the backbone of our environmental decision making. Data is the foundation of science. Closing down water monitoring stations deprives our scientists of the information they need to properly advise government policy makers and political leaders. Without solid data it’s impossible to understand the implications of decisions made," said Mr. Bennett.
Northern water monitoring is much less comprehensive than in southern Canada. “This is just another example of the cavalier attitude of southerners when it comes to the basic needs of the north. The increasingly rapid pace of development the north requires more monitoring - not less,” said Mr. Bennett.
John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada
Related: Feds killing water monitoring regime in the North
Assembly of First Nations, Media Release, August 25, 2011