Monitoring acidification and limnology in BC north coast lakes.

Client: Rio Tinto, Kitimat. Coordination with ESSA Technologies working on modeling acid loading

Time: 2012 – present

Services: Design of safe field operations for unique sampling of lakes from air, instrument and sampling logistics and operations, client and contractor support, lab management, data quality analysis in R, limnology of lakes receiving SO2 fallout, reporting.

Chemical measurements among selected lakes between Kitimat and Terrace, British Columbia, and control lakes in different airsheds and watersheds have been completed annually since 2012 as part of an original acid loading assessment and ongoing environmental effects monitoring (EEM) of SO2 emissions from the Rio Tinto smelter in Kitimat, British Columbia. The lake sampling and analysis is the aquatic component of the larger EEM that also includes atmospheric SO2 and acidic deposition, human health, vegetation, and soils that is being examined by other contractors. Activities have been determined collaboratively by Rio Tinto, ESSA Technologies (prime contractor on SO2 emissions EEM), and Provincial regulatory authorities.

Due to the remote location of most lakes extending from valley bottoms to the alpine and to the outer north coast, Limnotek developed novel techniques to collect surface and depth – specific lake water samples and instrument measurements by air. The methods were approved through rigorous review by Rio Tinto Safety based in London and through Canadian Helicopters safety protocols. The result has been a flawless safety record since work began 10 years ago and high quality data for use in calculating critical load of acidity to lakes by ESSA Technologies that is a partner contractor in this work.

More frequent ground based sampling of selected lakes by Limnotek is being used to assess details of lake function and potential sensitivity not only to acidification but also to nitrogen loading that may occur from cumulative emissions including those from the new LNG Canada terminal that is expected to soon begin operations in Kitimat.

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