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Fisheries and aquatic habitat investigations in the Mackay river watershed of northeastern Alberta


Year: 1980

Abstract:
The MacKay River basin is the largest basin on the west side of the Athabasca in the Athabasca Oil Sands region. The lower parts of this basin are part of the lease holding of Syncrude Canada Limited and this project was supported and partially funded by Syncrude. The general objective of this study was to describe the baseline states of the fish component of the MacKay River watershed. This study was part of a broadly based fisheries investigation of the Athabasca River and selected tributaries in the oil sands region of northeastern Alberta. Please refer to the following AOSERP research reports for more fisheries information: Nos. 26 and 76 (Muskeg), 36 (Clearwater), 61 (Steepbank), 84 and 89 (Athabasca), and 92 (Christina, Gregoire, and Hangingstone).

Fisheries and habitat investigations of tributary streams in the southern portion of the AOSERP study area. Vol II.


Author(s): Tripp, D. B., & Tsui P. T. P.

Year: 1980

Abstract:
This report presents the results of studies conducted from May to October 1978 on tributary streams in the southern portion of the AOSERP study area. The major objectives of these investigations were: 1. To describe the baseline states of the major components of the aquatic ecosystems in the southern portion of the AOSERP study area; 2. To describe, in detail, aquatic habitats of the southern portion of the AOSERP study area; and 3. To provide a quantitative estimate of the biological significance of the watersheds to the Athabasca River system. Three streams, the Christina, Gregoire, and Hangingstone, were selected for detailed study and were examined in early and late spring, late summer, and late autumn. Together, these three streams are representative of most of the major stream habitat types occurring within the project study area. Other waterbodies were sampled once only during late summer. This report consists of two volumes. Volume I is an explanatory text complete with summary tables and maps, while Volume II contains benthic macroinvertebrate and fish catch data.

Fisheries and habitat investigations of tributary streams in the southern portion of the AOSERP study area: Volume II


Author(s): Tripp, D. B., & Tsui P. T. P.

Year: 1980

Abstract:
This report presents the results of studies conducted from May to October 1978 on tributary streams in the southern portion of the AOSERP study area. The major objectives of these investigations were: 1. To describe the baseline states of the major components of the aquatic ecosystems in the southern portion of the AOSERP study area; 2. To describe, in detail, aquatic habitats of the southern portion of the AOSERP study area; and 3. To provide a quantitative estimate of the biological significance of the watersheds to the Athabasca River system. Three streams, the Christina, Gregoire, and Hangingstone, were selected for detailed study and were examined in early and late spring, late summer, and late autumn. Together, these three streams are representative of most of the major stream habitat types occurring within the project study area. Other waterbodies were sampled once only during late summer. This report consists of two volumes. Volume I is an explanatory text complete with summary tables and maps, while Volume II contains benthic macroinvertebrate and fish catch data.

Investigations of the spring spawning fish populations in the Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers upstream from Fort McMurray: Volume I


Author(s): Tripp, D. B., & McCart P. J.

Year: 1979

Abstract:
Fisheries investigations were undertaken in the spring of 1978 (28 April to 25 June) in the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers upstream of Fort McMurray. The major objectives of the studies were to determine what spring spawners utilized these sections of the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers; to locate and describe their spawning grounds; and to describe the timing of spawning, hatching, and emergence in relation to environmental factors such as water temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen concentrations, and stream flow. Large numbers of longnose suckers spawned during mid May in the Athabasca River from Fort McMurray upstream to the Cascade Rapids, the same area used by fall spawning lake whitefish. The major concentrations were located just below the Mountain and Cascade rapids. There was no evidence of major spawning concentrations of this species elsewhere in the present study area. Shortly after spawning, longnose suckers left the project study area and presumably returned to the Peace-Athabasca Delta. Northern pike and burbot spawning and rearing areas were identified in the Clearwater River upstream of its junction with the Christina River. There was little or no spawning by either species in the Clearwater River downstream of the Christina River or in the Athabasca River upstream of Fort McMurray. No major concentrations of spawning walleye were located. However, based on the distribution of young-of-the-year, it appears that at least some walleye spawned at various localities in the Athabasca River from the Mountain Rapids to as far upstream as the Grand Rapids. There is no evidence that walleye spawned in the Clearwater River within the AOSERP study area. Lake whitefish young-of-the-year probably emerged and moved downstream out of the present study area before spring breakup. Longnose sucker young-of-the-year emerged at the beginning of June followed by pike, walleye, and white sucker young-of-the year later in June. The Athabasca River, and to a lesser extent the Clearwater River, provide valuable habitat for a number of minor species including flathead chub, longnose dace, and lake chub. Large numbers of juvenile goldeye also use the area as feeding grounds during the open-water period.

The effects of sedimentation on the aquatic biota


Year: 1978

Abstract:
A review of the effects of sedimentation on aquatic biota is presented. The detrimental effects of increased suspended and settled sediments on fish, bottom invertebrates, and primary productivity are documented. It is shown that the upper tolerance level for suspended sediment is between 80-100 mg/l for fish, and as low as 10-15 mg/l for bottom invertebrates. Recovery of the aquatic biota from increased sedimentation is dependent on the severity of sediment additions and the discharge level of the rivers or streams. Recovery from short-term additions of sediment is usually complete within one year. The use of remote sensing and biomonitoring to locate sources of sedimentation is discussed. Remote sensing can generally be used to identify point sources of sedimentation, define flow patterns, choose sampling stations, interpret ground survey data, and maintain permanent records of changes in water quality. Biomonitoring can be used to monitor water quality, especially with regard to sedimentation, since alterations in the environment are reflected by the indigenous biota. The sedimentation characteristics of the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program (AOSERP) study area are presented and observations are made on the potential for erosion and sediment production. The AOSERP study area is divided into twelve hydrological zones and each zone is classified for erosion potential. The zones having a high erosion potential are: (1) lower Ells basin and eastern slopes of Birch Mountains (Zone 1); (2) tributaries immediately north of Fort McMurray (Zone 6); (3) Christina River basin (Zone 7); (4) Hangingstone and Horse River basins. (Zone 8); (Fort MacKay River basin (Zone 9); (6) Dunkirk River basin (Zone 10); and (7) upper Ells River basin (Zone 11). Road construction, pipeline construction, general construction (urban and industrial sites), vegetation removal, overburden removal, and pit excavation, tailing ponds, settling ponds, and diversion channels were identified as possible sources of unnatural increases of suspended and settled sediments in the AOSERP study area. The effect of development activities on the hydrological regime and the aquatic biota is shown. The scale of the disturbance and the length of the recovery period are also predicted. Development activities such as road building and pipeline construction will affect a number of the watershed basins; therefore, they were classified as having regional effect and were considered to be of greatest concern.