Lower Athabasca Water Quality Monitoring Plan Phase 1

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This Phase 1 plan deals with surface water quality monitoring in the mainstem of the Athabasca River, and its major tributaries, between Fort McMurray to Wood Buffalo National Park Boundary. It focuses on the physical and chemical attributes of water quality. Subsequent phases in the development of the water quality monitoring program will include biological endpoints and "effects-based" monitoring and assessments, and the expansion of the geographic scope to include environments further downstream in the Athabasca River system where appropriate, and upland lakes in the air shed that could be affected by aerial contaminant deposition from oil sands development. Contributors to Phase 1 plan development had expertise in: surface and groundwater quality and quantity, hydrology, climatology, environmental chemistry, paleo-limnology, aerial deposition and contaminants, oil sands related contaminant chemistry, ecosystem-based monitoring program design and cumulative effects assessment, and statistical design. Each contributed significantly to the development of the Phase 1 plan and the production of this document.

This document presents a technical monitoring plan about when, where, why and how to monitor surface water quality. It does not present a complete monitoring system that includes specific elements like data management, and reporting. In the implementation of this plan, key principles articulated by the Federal Oil Sands Advisory Panel will be followed. The full plan will be holistic and comprehensive. It will be adaptive and robust. All data will be publically available in a standardized, accessible format. Stakeholders will be involved and their interests and concerns fully taken into account as data are analyzed and the meaning and impacts of conclusions are determined. As with all responsible science plans, and in keeping with the guidance of the Federal Panel, this plan will be continuously updated and refined to ensure its relevance and technical competence.

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  • Author: Environment Canada
  • Language of Document: Separate English/French
  • Document Type: Report
  • Cat. No.: EN14-42/2011E-PDF
  • ISBN: 978-1-100-18471-5
  • Pages: 90
  • Year: 2011
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