Great Slave Lake Water Quality Monitoring

Our Story

Assessing water quality parameters under ice at Great Slave Lake

Project: Assessing water quality parameters under ice at Great Slave Lake
Partner: Government of Northwest Territories/ Environment & Climate Change Canada
Date: Feb 2019 – Mar 2019
Funder: Contract
Lead Researchers: Gord Balch and Ryan Hill

What We Did

When the Government of Northwest Territories, in partnership with Environment & Climate Change Canada, requested the CAWT’s expertise monitoring a full suite of water quality parameters beneath a frozen lake in the Western Canadian Arctic, our venturesome research team packed up their parkas and headed north.

In March of 2019, with ice augers and sampling equipment loaded onto sleds towed by snowmobiles, our team set out to collect water samples from under the ice at fourteen locations on Great Slave Lake and an additional three locations on a lake downstream of the City of Yellowknife’s municipal wastewater discharge site. Concerns about phosphorus levels along the Fiddler’s Lake Treatment System and its receiving environment (Great Slave Lake) are longstanding. To date, regions outside the immediate receiving waters do not appear to have exhibited extensive ecosystemic changes as a result of excessive nutrient loading, however, prevention is the name of the game. Any significant population growth in Yellowknife would result in greater volumes of wastewater produced, processed and discharged to the lagoon system over time, which adds to current loadings and translates to greater concentrations of problematic phosphorus in fresh water bodies.

Our research team collected water quality data to examine the degree of nutrient loadings from the Fiddler’s Lake treatment system and take a preliminary look at the potential for impacts. By developing strategies and opportunities for the reduction of nutrients at-source or within the wastewater treatment process, the City of Yellowknife can proactively work to protect Great Slave Lake water quality. We were delighted to contribute to this valuable research, ultimately helping to expand the scientific community’s understanding of cold-climate wastewater nutrient behaviour, for the benefit of industry practitioners, governments and community members at large.

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