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The Water Survey of Canada (WSC) is the national authority responsible for the collection, interpretation and dissemination of standardized water resource data and information in Canada. In partnership with the provinces, territories and other agencies, WSC operates over 2800 active hydrometric gauges across the country. WSC maintains and provides real-time and historic hydrometric data for some 8000 active and discontinued stations. This dataset consists of a set of polygons that represent the drainage areas of both active and discontinued discharge stations. Users are encouraged to report any errors using the “Contact Us” webpage at: https://wateroffice.ec.gc.ca/contactus/contact_us_e.html.
As part of a three year study funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Natural Resources Canada (ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative, project UOSGQ963; http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/funding/current-fundingprograms/eii/4985) data were gathered to assess and monitor water quality conditions in northeastern British Columbia (BC). Defined in this datasetas portions of the Petitot, Fort Nelson, and Hay River basins, northeast BC is a region subject to both historical conventional oil and gas development and more recent unconventional oil and gas (UOG) development. UOG development in this area is presently focused on the Horn River Basin, Cordova Embayment and Liard Basin shale formations (BCOGC 2010, 2013a). Otherwise, UOG development in BC is centered in the Montney Play, located further south (Adams et al. 2016). Surface water quality assessment and monitoring focused on two river basins in this area: the Petitot River Basin and the Fort Nelson River Basin. Baseline and/or best available surface water quality information was gathered from January 2012 to March 2015. Benthic macroinvertebrates were collected over the same period to complement the water quality study through development of a Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) bioassessment model. Routine Water Quality Monitoring study objectives were to gain a better understanding of water quality conditions in the Petitot River Basin by collecting baseline data using a standard suite of physical-chemical variables and establishing a representative long-term site. Routine water quality sampling sites were selected at locations with known exposure to UOG activity and varying watershed areas; submersible loggers were also installed to collect specific conductance and temperature data. Synoptic Water Quality Monitoring study objectives were to establish patterns of spatial and temporal water chemistry through synoptic water sampling at high and low flow periods and examine potential relationships between UOG activity and surface water quality. Sample sites were selected at microbasin drainage outlets to represent a range of upstream activity and potential contamination. A series of samples were also collected along the mainstem Petitot River at 20-kilometre intervals from the Alberta border to the Highway 77 bridge to capture potential “step-changes” in water chemistry as the river flows through the northeast BC gas production area. Biological Monitoring study objectives were to establish baseline reference conditions based on benthic macroinvertebrate communities and habitat characteristics, and develop a predictive bioassessment model to assess the ecosystem health of streams in the Liard, Fort Nelson, and Petitot River basins exposed to UOG activity. The biological monitoring study design followed CABIN sampling methodology for benthic macroinvertebrate collections in streams and rivers (Environment Canada 2012, http://www.ec.gc.ca/rcba-cabin). Sampling was conducted at 53 reference sites unaffected or minimally influenced by human activity. Thirty five test sites were also selected across a gradient of UOG activity, based on well densities. A preliminary predictive bioassessment model for northeast BC was established and is available through the CABIN website for future assessment of water quality and ecosystem health in the region.
The Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) is an aquatic biomonitoring program for assessing the health of fresh water ecosystems in Canada. Benthic macroinvertebrates are collected at a site location and their counts are used as an indicator of the health of that water body. CABIN is based on the network of networks approach that promotes inter-agency collaboration and data-sharing to achieve consistent and comparable reporting on fresh water quality and aquatic ecosystem conditions in Canada. The program is maintained by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to support the collection, assessment, reporting and distribution of biological monitoring information. A set of nationally standardized CABIN protocols are used for field collection, laboratory work, and analysis of biological monitoring data. A training program is available to certify participants in the standard protocols. There are two types of sites in the CABIN database (reference and test). Reference sites represent habitats that are closest to “natural” before any human impact. The data from reference sites are used to create reference models that CABIN partners use to evaluate their test sites in an approach known as the Reference Condition Approach (RCA). Using the RCA models, CABIN partners match their test sites to groups of reference sites on similar habitats and compare the observed macroinvertebrate communities. The extent of the differences between the test site communities and the reference site communities allows CABIN partners to estimate the severity of the impacts at those locations. CABIN samples have been collected since 1987 and are organized in the database by study (partner project). The data is delineated by the 11 major drainage areas (MDA) found in Canada and each one has a corresponding study, habitat and benthic invertebrate data file. Links to auxiliary water quality data are provided when available. Visits may be conducted at the same location over time with repeat site visits being identified by identical study name / site code with different dates. All data collected by the federal government is available on Open Data and more partners are adding their data continually. The csv files are updated monthly. Contact the CABIN study authority to request permission to access non open data.
Observations on various types of wetlands, terrestrial environments, and vascular plants for 102 sites visited in 2012 and located on Lake Saint-Pierre are included in this dataset. Since the 1970s, Environment and Climate change Canada (ECCC) has been monitoring changes in wetlands under the State of the St. Lawrence River Monitoring program of the St. Lawrence Action Plan.
Water level and discharge data are available from Water Survey of Canada’s Hydrometric Network. The Water Survey of Canada (WSC) is the national authority responsible for the collection, interpretation and dissemination of standardized water resource data and information in Canada. In partnership with the provinces, territories and other agencies, WSC operates over 2500 active hydrometric gauges across the country, maintains an archive of historical information for over 7600 stations and provides access to near real-time (water level and stream flow) provisional data at over 1700 locations in Canada.
Water quality and ecosystem health data collected using a risk-based monitoring approach to support the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement are included in this dataset. By conducting regular, systematic measurements of the physical, chemical and biological conditions of the Great Lakes Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is able to: measure the natural changes and conditions of water quality; determine changes over time, at various locations, of water contaminants and/or threats; support development of science-based guidelines for water, fish, and sediment; identify emerging issues and threats; track the results of remedial measures and regulatory decisions; report and assess science results through performance indicators and in an Open Science environment to support an ecosystem approach to environmental and resource management in the Great Lakes. Data are collected by Environment and Climate Change Canada to meet federal commitments related to the Great Lakes as transboundary waters crossing, inter- provincial and international borders under the authorities of the Department of the Environment Act, the Canada Water Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 and the Boundary Waters Treaty including the commitments under the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement.
Water Quality Monitoring on Tributaries in the Athabasca River Oil Sands Region Ells River (EL1, ELLS RIFF 2, ELLS RIFF5 [2012-2015]) Mackay River (MA1 [2012-2015], MA2 [2013-2015]) Steepbank River (STB RIFF1, STB WSC, STB RIFF7, STB RIFF10 [2012-2015]) Firebag River (FI1, FI WSC [2012-2015]) Muskeg River (MU1 [2012-2015]), MU6 [2012-2015]), MU7 ) High Hills River (HIHI1 [2013-2015]) Water quality of tributaries in the Athabasca River oil sands region is heavily influenced by the presence of the underlying Cretaceous bedrock, which is comprised of shale, sandstone and limestone. The waters are moderately hard (average alkalinity of 114 mg l-1 CaCO3) because of their mineral content, particularly magnesium (average 8.62 mg l-1), calcium (average 28.06 mg l-1) and bicarbonate (138.53 mg l-1). This mineral content results in an average conductivity of 245 +/- 4 µS cm-1 and total dissolved solids concentration of 140 +/- 2 ppm. Concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus (indicators of nutrient status) are typically low to moderate, averaging 0.14 mg l-1 total phosphorus, 0.03 mg l-1 total dissolved phosphorus, 0.92 mg l-1 total nitrogen, 0.09 mg l-1 nitrogen as nitrate+nitrite, and 0.04 mg l-1 nitrogen as total ammonia. Seasonal variation for the majority of water quality constituents within the Athabasca tributaries can be strong and is highly reflective of hydrological discharge (i.e., highest concentrations typically occur during snowmelt periods, especially for parameters that are bound to particulate matter). Spatial variation of parameters within tributaries general showed an increasing trend from upstream of development to samples collected downstream of development (near mouth of a tributary). Of the 45 water quality constituents (physical characteristics, major ions, metals, metalloids, selenium) and 52 Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds (PACs) analyzed, 28 have Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life (Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment – CCME). Only a few parameters were classified with frequent exceedances (i.e., >10% of of the approximately 1430 samples): total iron, 99% of all samples; total aluminum, 61%; total suspended solids, 39%; and total copper, 17%. All measurements of total mercury were below the CCME guideline; only pyrene from the PACs showed occasional exceedances (2% of samples) for established guidelines. Exceedances of guidelines are not uncommon in many river systems within and outside of the Oil Sands region and, in general, are associated with high flow events when suspended solids and contaminant loads are the greatest. High concentrations of suspended sediment (measured as total suspended solids) were observed during high flow events, such as occur during snowmelt and summer rainfall events. The high percentage of exceedances for iron was expected as these waters are known to have naturally-occurring high concentrations of iron. Mercury in Tributaries This data set includes river water concentrations of total mercury (THg; all forms of mercury in a sample) and methyl mercury (MeHg; the form of mercury that bioaccumulates through food webs) in five Athabasca River tributaries (Ells, Steepbank, Firebag, Muskeg and MacKay rivers). No samples exceeded the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment guidelines for THg and MeHg.
Observations on various types of wetlands, terrestrial environments, and vascular plants for 55 sites visited in 2012 and located in in the Boucherville Islands are included in this dataset. Since the 1970s, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has been monitoring changes in wetlands under the State of the St. Lawrence River Monitoring program of the St. Lawrence Action Plan.
Canadian Wetlands Inventory (CWI) data for the Cap Tourmente region. Created according to the method developed by the Canadian Wildlife Service, Quebec Region. Between 2003 and 2007, the Canadian Wildlife Service, Quebec Region (CWS-QC) produced wetland maps for several sites in Quebec. This mapping was carried out as part of the Canadian Wetland Inventory (CWI), an initiative launched in 2002 in order to classify wetlands into the five major classes of the Canadian Wetlands Classification System, namely: bogs, fens, marshes, swamps and shallow open water. The selected approach combines Landsat-TM/ETM and RADARSAT-1 satellite imagery with object-oriented image classification. The mapped sites are situated in a variety of ecozones and represent different types of landscapes and ecosystems. These sites include Lac Saint-Pierre, Lac Brome, Montérégie, Lac Saint-François (Appalachians), Grande-Plée-Bleue, Montmagny, Cap Tourmente, Baie de l’Isle-Verte, La Mauricie National Park, Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Radisson and Eastmain. These twelve sites represent 4% of Quebec’s land mass. The method was tested in British Columbia (Vancouver) and in the Northwest Territories (Kendall Island). A total of 8% of the territory constituted by the twelve sites is covered by wetlands, with the percentage for each site ranging from 2% to 15%. The classifications were validated using a method developed by CWS-QC which involves the visual interpretation of Landsat colour composites. Validation was performed in two ways: between wetlands and dry areas and between the five different types of wetlands. The overall accuracy for the first validation method ranges between 61% and 91%; for the second method, accuracy ranges between 47% and 98%.
Permafrost loss is pervasive across northern circumpolar regions. The loss of frozen ground has profound impacts on water resources at varying spatial and temporal scales via changes to predominant hydrological processes, runoff pathways and entrainment rates of solutes and sediments. Consensus exists that permafrost loss will continue, and rates will vary spatially, but how hydrology and biogeochemistry will respond across large swaths of land remains largely unknown. Previous research elucidated small-scale processes or described circumpolar trends, with minimal cross-scale research. In particular, a pan-Canadian assessment of water resource vulnerability to permafrost loss is lacking. This study develops and applies a framework for assessing vulnerability of pan-Canadian water resources to permafrost loss. For the purposes of this study, “water resources” is defined as the surface hydrological and aquatic chemistry regime characterized by water budgets, aquatic chemistry concentrations and loads. The framework was applied in developing the Canadian Water Resources Vulnerability Index to Permafrost Loss (CWRVIPL), including mapping of the index across the Canadian North. The CWRVIPL is a linearly additive index of permafrost, physiographic, disturbance and climatic conditions and stressors that influence water budgets and aquatic chemistry. Initial results imply aspects of water resources in northern Alberta, the Northwest Territories and the Hudson Bay Lowlands are most vulnerable to permafrost loss, and these regions are embedded in a large band of relatively more vulnerable territory extending from the northern Yukon south to James Bay and northeastward to Labrador. In the Arctic Archipelago, water resources in portions of Banks, Victoria and Baffin Islands are also relatively vulnerable to permafrost loss. The index identifies areas of water resource vulnerability on which to focus and encourage ongoing observation and research in the Canadian North.