Design of experiments, monitoring, field operations, and modeling is the most important step. It defines budgets, objectives, ultimate data, coding, analyses, model needs, importance of answers. It is an understanding for clients, us, and regulatory agencies.


Why (define the questions), what (define the variables), when (time element), where (space element), who (client support element)

Understanding and Decision Support

Understand the science and the people makes effective support for client needs

A Rich History

Four decades of excellence in water ecosystem science serving client needs


Limnotek was started in 1984 by Chris Perrin, an aquatic ecologist specializing in biogeochemistry. This beginning followed three years of work by Chris at a government research office where he worked in a dynamic team beginning innovative research on nutrient addition to streams as a salmon enhancement technique. That work continued at Limnotek over the next several years leading to publications and international recognition.



This base of experience led to experiments at mine sites using mesocosms to test metals toxicity and acid mine drainage tolerances in aquatic communities. The same kind of mesocosm experiments were used to test nutrient tolerances in various rivers needing mitigation actions to offset flow regulation for power production. It further led to testing change in nutrient transport in watersheds following forest fertilization that formed the basis of present guidelines to protect or even enhance streams and lakes during forest treatments.

In 1998 Limnotek collaborated with the Provincial Ministry of Environment to develop an Aquatic Ecozone Classification based on natural chemical differences among watersheds. Maps closely matched those of the Biogeoclimatic Zone Classification System used by forest managers, showing fundamental links between forests and water in British Columbia.



Water use planning initiatives that started in the 1990’s in relation to flow management in rivers pulled in Limnotek skills in monitoring design, field operations, and modeling. This work included a large assessment of the SiteC dam in northeastern BC, hydroelectric complexes on Vancouver Island, the Kootenays (south east part of BC), and the Sea to Sky corridor in southwest BC. The longest lasting group of projects in this topic area is in the Bridge River system where complex river and reservoir modeling, paleolimnological studies, and river monitoring work was developed with First Nations partners. We are proud to have supported PhD students this Bridge River program. That monitoring with statistical modeling continues to support water management decisions.



In a unique line of work continuing over 20 years, Limnotek engaged in projects to test effectiveness of wastewater treatment at primary through to tertiary treatment plants. This work proved key to quality control at the plant at Whistler, BC, the site of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Similar methods were applied to many treatment systems in other places, some being simple lagoons operated by remote First Nations communities.

With a focus on lower trophic level ecology, we developed sampling methods for benthic invertebrates in rivers in the 1990’s, which became standard methods in British Columbia. That work coupled with our modeling skills led to work with the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network, also known as CABIN. During 2007 to 2020 we built bioassessment models for the Skagit transboundary watershed in southern BC and Washington State, Vancouver Island, the Skeena watershed in northwestern BC, the MacKenzie River watershed in Northwest Territories, the Columbia River watershed in southeastern BC, the south coast of BC, and the Okanagan watershed in south central BC. Limnotek applied these models to several bioassessment projects as have many other companies and government agencies. Many of the Limnotek models remain in use today and are accessed through the CABIN website.

Beginning in 2012 Limnotek was engaged by Rio Tinto through a collaboration with ESSA Technologies to collect critical lake water quality data, provide quality control of all steps in the aquisition of that data, and interpret the limnology of BC north coast lakes as part of Environmental Effects Monitoring for the upgraded aluminum smelter in Kitimat. This work is now migrating into cumulative effects analysis linking Rio Tinto and LNG Canada projects.

Another line of rewarding work started in 2015 with Metro Vancouver, a regional district that supplies water to several municipalities and a population of 2.5 million people. Limnotek designed the present reservoir water quality monitoring plan used to track functioning of watershed rivers and reservoirs and long term trends associated with climate change. Limnotek works closely with field staff of Metro Vancouver and produces annual reports showing an understanding of reservoir water quality and function complete with easily understood indexes that can be quickly referenced by district managers. 



The latest mesocosm application was an amazing collaboration with the Hatfield Group to build and operate a modern mesocosm to test effectiveness of the latest treatment technology to remove toxicity from oil sands process-affected water produced by Syncrude (now Suncor) in Alberta. Results were clear and unequivocal. 

A recent endevour has been a collaboration with ESSA Technologies, with whom we have a long term working relationship. Together, we designed an ocean monitoring plan, implemented all field work, interpreted the ocean ecology, all leading to an Ocean Health Index for Vancouver Fraser Port, the largest Port in Canada situated in Burrard Inlet and within the traditional territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. This coastal ocean ecology is different from our typical work in fresh waters but there are many similarities in ecological lower trophic level functioning and chemistry which makes the transition seamless. After all, the name of one of the most renowned water journals is “Limnology and Oceanography” because of so many similarities between environments. We carry this rich history into all we do.



Limnotek remains a small and focussed company. Chris Perrin manages work out of Vancouver and Shauna Bennett handles north coast projects in Terrace. The two of us lead project teams with hand picked people, including indigenous technicians having a close attachment to their land and water to perform high quality and specialized activities that support decisions by clients in industry, First Nations, government, power utilities, and water and waste utilities in western Canada.

We are privileged to provide these services that empower clients in making evidence based water management decisions.


Understand client needs

Rigorous design

Astute Health and Safety with latest gear and instrumentation provides the best data from the field

Understand the science: Beyond guidelines

Answer the questions. Provide decision support

Our Process

Understanding the problem

First we listen and ask ourselves “Do we understand the issue?”. We then offer clear and objecive ideas to guide conversation,  enabling us and the client to write down the questions to be answered and objectives to be met (e.g. “Is treated oil sands process water toxic to river biota?” or “Is trophic state changing in a drinking water reservoir”). This process ensures an understanding of where the “goal posts” lie. What do we need to address? It is a definition of the problem

Design – W5

Project design is bounded by the project understanding. We ask “Why” are we doing this. An answer might be “to explain cause of a water quality guideline exceedance”. We ask “What” is to be measured. An answer might be a list of “guideline variables and explanatory variables to support interpretations”. We ask “When” will measurements be made and at what frequency. This is a time element. An answer might be “monthly every year to support a statistical test of time course  change among key variables and explanatory variables. We ask “Where” will measurements be made. This is a space element. An answer might be “at “x” stations to enable tracking spatial variability within the assigned time frame and enable very common time x space comparisons in data. Then we ask who is going to do it. Sometimes the client has crews to conduct field work in which case Limnotek personnel provide guidance to meet design criteria and interpret the results. In other cases a Limnotek crew will conduct field work and all subsequent steps in the analytical and reporting and support process. In still other cases there is no field work and tasks for compilation and cleaning of existing data is a cooperative process between synergist groups of people. Definitions in this step clearly show who does what. Overall, the design part of our process determines the scope and structure of data needed to answer questions and support statistical analysis and modeling (if needed)

Health and safety

This is a big deal. Detailed health and safety planning goes into every field project. We go into some amazing places and with that adventure comes risk. We vastly reduce that risk with superior planning of every step, selection of the best tools and instruments, coordination and logistics through advanced communications, and more. It all results in highest quality data for pending analysis to support client needs

Understanding and communicating the science

Once we have a clean and beautiful set of data, the analytical process takes hold. This the step where the project questions are actually answered. It is all done using programming languages and multivariate software to produce stunning statistical output and graphics. We are fans of visualization so cool graphics always help to convey a story. While the underlying computations and coding might be complex, the output is made to show a conclusion simply for all to understand. If this simplicity of presentation can’t be done, we believe that the analysis probably wasn’t correct so we do it again to make it understood by all. Many projects are designed to produce models of biotic response to changing environments. These models become tools to explore how much a system can be stressed before change of state or how much action needs to be applied to restore biological communities. These models thereby help a great deal in understanding how the ecological systems are functioning. All of this goes beyond the use of guidelines that are common, for example, in toxicity and water quality monitoring in general. For sure, in our water quality work, we compare observations to published guidelines but then interpret why a response has occurred the way it has using supplementary data. This approach offers the greatest value to clients in long term water management.

Answer the questions → Decision support

Analytical output is the technical basis of answering the original questions posed at the beginning of our process. This is the interpretation step. We link the output with knowledge and wisdom in our library to not only answer the questions but show why things turned out the way they did. If objectives are to track long term trends we explain signals in any trends, present or absent and we show why they matter. If the objective is to develop and defend a health index, we show index values and explanations for why those values are the way they are. If objectives are to compare output to water quality guidelines, we do that and then show underlying processes that explain that result. The intent is to develop understanding of process for everyone to capture.

The above steps provide a technical basis to support client decisions. We typically do not make water management decisions for our clients. Rather we show the consequences of one decision compared to others with respect to water protection. It is a powerful process for clients to enjoy. Clients make decisions and they feel empowered to have made the best decisions with knowledge and understanding gained during collaboration with Limnotek.

LimnotekR+D is aquatic science and decision support

Shauna Bennett, MSc. RPBio

Aquatic scientist, Terrace

Chris Perrin, MSc. RPBio

Senior scientist, Vancouver

Let’s Do This Together!


4035 West 14 Avenue, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6R 2X3



(604) 335-1453