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Lakeland County AB
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A socio-economic study of Fort Chipewyan, the Peace Athabasca Delta and the Lake Athabasca region


Year: 1973

Abstract:
Within this broader Socio-economic study of the Peace-Athabasca Delta, the section on the economy includes some information on trapping, fishing, resource use, resource access, some Aboriginal communities, and subsistence harvesting, while a later section discusses the area's resource base, including human, fur, fish, forest, minerals, soil, wildlife, cultural and historical resources. The purpose of the study was to examine the impact of low water levels on area resources and resource use. This is not a traditional land use or knowledge study, but there is information from a non-Aboriginal perspective on resource use from the early years of commercial development in Peace-Athabasca Delta.

A study of the chemical and physical properties of Syncrude's tailings pond, Mildred Lake 1980


Author(s): MacKinnon, M. D.

Year: 1981

Abstract:
Syncrude Canada Ltd. is producing synthetic crude oil from a surface mine in the Athabasca Tar Sands area of north-eastern Alberta. This report describes the chemical and physical properties in the tailings pond at the Mildred Lake site of Syncrude Canada Ltd. during the ice-free period of 1980. Syncrude's Environmental Research Monographs are published verbatim from the final reports of professional environmental consultants. Only proprietary technical or budget-related information is withheld. Because we do not necessarily base our decisions on just one consultant's opinion, recommendations found in the text should not be construed as committments to action by Syncrude.

Allowable cut effects of various intensive management and land base options in the boreal mixedwood


Author(s): Onishenko, L. A.

Year: 1991

Abstract:
This study is concerned with the manner in which white spruce/trembling aspen mixedwood stands within the Boreal Forest Region (Rowe, 1972) should be managed and utilized. Impacts on allowable cut of both softwood and hardwood are evaluated using a harvest scheduling model. The study first observes harvest volumes produced from the coniferous and deciduous land bases, as currently defined by the Alberta Government. On the conifer land base, increases in conifer allowable cut are sought through application of two forest management practices, softwood understorey release and/or species conversion. Several conclusions are drawn from this case study that would be applicable to other forests with similar age class structures and species distribution. The study concludes that if both release of mixedwood and choice in species regeneration are allowed, then the use of the deciduous fibre within the conifer land base can occur without significantly impacting conifer volume production. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Application by Syncrude Canada Ltd. for amendment of Approval No. 7550: Proposed Mildred Lake upgrader expansion


Year: 1999

Abstract:
Syncrude Canada Ltd. applied, pursuant to Section 14 of the Oil Sands Conservation Act, to amend Approval No. 7550 to allow for the expansion of its Mildred Lake upgrading complex, in which the proposed expansion would increase Syncrude's production of marketable hydrocarbons through the addition of a new fluid coker, a flue gas desulphurization unit, new froth treatment facilities, additional hydrotreating and sulphur recovering capabilities and associated ancillary units. Syncrude sought approval for a production scheme for the expanded facilities that would increase annual production volume to 27.5 from 15.3 million cubic m per year of marketable hydrocarbons, and removal of the annual production volume and term limits for the upgrading complex. Under a coordinated application process adopted by Alberta Environment and the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board, Syncrude filed a joint application and environmental impact assessment. It also filed for an amendment to its Approval No. 26-01-00 issued under the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. The issues to be considered with respect to the application are: technology - diluent recovery, bitumen conversion technology selection, and removal of production and term limits; environment - sulphur dioxide emissions from the base plant, sulphur recovery from acid gas, greenhouse gases, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and ozone; and water management - cumulative effects. Considering all the evidence, the Boards. Considering all the evidence, the Board was prepared, with the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, to approve Syncrude's Application No. 980381 with conditions and requirements as referenced in this report and that will be specified in the approval

Assessment of trophic position and food sources using stable isotopes of sulphur, carbon, and nitrogen, Peace and Athabasca Rivers, 1992 and 1993


Year: 1996

Abstract:
Describes a study of the stable isotope composition of sulphur, carbon, and nitrogen in the tissues of fish from two locations in the Athabasca River and two on the Peace River. Fish species analysed included burbot, walleye, mountain whitefish, northern pike, goldeye, longnose sucker, and lake chub. A set of samples consisting of biofilm, invertebrates, and fish from the upper Athabasca was also analysed. The purpose of the study was to extend the data base on feeding and movement of fish which could be derived from the carbon and sulphur isotope data, and to use the nitrogen isotope data to define the trophic positions of the organisms. Isotope analyses of water samples established the isotope signals of the source of organic matter produced in or carried into the Athabasca by its tributaries so that the dependence of the food chain on those sources could be assessed

Cold Lake - Beaver River basin groundwater quality state of the basin report


Year: 2006

Abstract:
This report is one of four State of the Basin reports described below. Each report gives specific information to provide a snapshot that illustrates the current condition of the Cold Lake–Beaver River (CLBR) Basin. The reports contain inventory and assessment information related to surface and groundwater quantity, quality and aquatic resources of the basin. Also identified are the management tools that are currently available to address water issues in the basin. In addition to providing background information and a knowledge base for the CLBR plan, the reports update information in the 1985 planning documents. Developing the State of the Basin reports was a collaborative team effort using expertise from Alberta Environment, Sustainable Resource Development, Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Prairie Farm Rehabilitation and Administration, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Lakeland Industry and Community Association (LICA).

Cold Lake - Beaver River basin groundwater quantity and brackish water state of the basin report


Year: 2006

Abstract:
This report is one of four State of the Basin reports described below. Each report gives specific information to provide a snapshot that illustrates the current condition of the Cold Lake–Beaver River (CLBR) Basin. The reports contain inventory and assessment information related to surface and groundwater quantity, quality and aquatic resources of the basin. Also identified are the management tools that are currently available to address water issues in the basin. In addition to providing background information and a knowledge base for the CLBR plan, the reports update information in the 1985 planning documents. Developing the State of the Basin reports was a collaborative team effort using expertise from Alberta Environment, Sustainable Resource Development, Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Prairie Farm Rehabilitation and Administration, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Lakeland Industry and Community Association (LICA).

Cold Lake - Beaver River surface water quantity and aquatic resources state of the basin report


Year: 2006

Abstract:
This report is one of four state of the basin reports. Each report gives specific information to provide a snapshot that illustrates the current condition of the Cold Lake-Beaver River (CLBR) Basin. The reports contain inventory and assessment information related to surface and groundwater quantity, quality and aquatic resources of the basin. Also identified are the management tools that are currently available to address water issues in the basin. In addition to providing background information and a knowledge base for the CLBR plan, the reports update information in the 1985 planning documents.

Developing temporal hydroecological perspectives to inform stewardship of a northern floodplain landscape subject to multiple stressors: Paleolimnological investigations of the Peace–Athabasca Delta


Year: 2012

Abstract:
Effective stewardship of ecologically-significant floodplain landscapes requires knowledge of the relative roles of natural processes and upstream human activities on environmental flows. In these landscapes, hydroecological conditions that develop from potentially competing drivers, such as climate change and industrial development, tend to be expressed at spatial and temporal scales that are often inadequately captured by existing monitoring datasets. Consequently, perceived cause–effect relations may be misunderstood, conflict can escalate among stakeholders, and effectiveness of surveillance systems, policies, and governance may be impaired. This is the context for the Peace–Athabasca Delta (PAD), an internationally-recognized water-rich floodplain landscape located in northern Alberta (Canada) that has been subject to multiple stressors. Here we synthesize evidence from paleolimnological records that have fostered an unparalled window into the natural history of this landscape. Over the past 12 years, we have assembled numerous decadal- to multicentennial-long records of hydrological and ecological variability, including an exceptionally detailed chronicle of Peace River flood frequency and magnitude spanning ~600 years. These efforts recently culminated in a 5200-year reconstruction of Lake Athabasca water-level history. Results have provided the foundation to identify drivers of landscape change and generate insight into the delta’s dynamic and ongoing evolution. Contrary to widespread perceptions that hydroelectric regulation of the Peace River since the late 1960s has reduced the frequency of ice-jam floods and lowered floodplain lake-water levels, results indicate that climate variability exerts the overwhelming influence on the delivery of water to the PAD. We show that impending climate-driven freshwater scarcity of a scale unprecedented in our collective societal memory now poses a significant threat to the ecological integrity of this world-renowned landscape and a major challenge to water resource managers. Also, we propose a hydroecological monitoring program, built upon the knowledge gained from our extensive process studies and paleoenvironmental research, to inform effective ongoing stewardship of the delta.

Early successional wildlife monitoring on reclamation plots in the Athabasca oil sands region


Author(s): Hawkes, V. C.

Year: 2011

Abstract:
Assessing the effectiveness of reclamation efforts to create wildlife habitat in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region requires an assessment of wildlife use of reclaimed areas as well as the development of scientifically defensible and repeatable survey methods. The Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA) is mandated to develop guidance documents for assessing reclamation effectiveness on oil sands leases. As part of a pilot study funded by CEMA to assess the use of early successional stands (i.e., those ranging in age from 4 to 17 years) by wildlife (songbirds, small mammals, and ungulates), a wildlife monitoring protocol was developed and field tested in 2010 and 2011. The purpose of this project was to (1) set standards upon which to base longer-term monitoring, and (2) identify wildlife groups that will indicate whether reclaimed ecosystems satisfy land use objectives, including the objective of returning wildlife to reclaimed habitats. The study achieved the following goals: 1) an assessment of the return and re-establishment of early successional wildlife to reclaimed terrestrial systems; 2) an assessment of the feasibility of the recommended protocols for monitoring wildlife on reclaimed terrestrial systems; 3) the development of recommendations for the wildlife appendix of the Guidelines for Reclamation to Forest Vegetation in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region for early successional wildlife monitoring based on the monitoring program results; and 4) the collection of monitoring data to assist in identifying and developing wildlife indicators for reclamation certification. Early indications suggest that the proposed methods are suitable for documenting wildlife use of reclaimed plots; however, the frequency and duration of monitoring needs to be increased to determine patterns of re-establishment and use by wildlife.

Ecological responses of cisco (Coregonus artedi) to hypolimnetic oxygenation in Amisk Lake, Alberta


Author(s): Aku, P. K. M.

Year: 1995

Abstract:
I examined responses of cisco (Coregonus artedi) to hypolimnetic oxygenation in Amisk Lake during the summers of 1989-1992. One basin of this double-basined eutrophic lake was oxygenated, whereas the second basin, and the nearby, untreated Baptiste Lake, served as reference systems. Dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations in the hypolimnion of both basins of Amisk Lake increased during treatment but were higher in the treated basin than in the reference basin. Hypolimnetic DO in the treated basin remained above concentrations avoided by cisco ($<$1.3 mg$\cdot$L$\sp{-1})$ but fell below this level by mid-summer in the reference basin. Consequently, cisco habitat extended up to 8 m deeper in the hypolimnion of the treated basin than in the reference basin. Variations in monthly densities suggested that cisco in Amisk Lake also responded to hypolimnetic oxygenation by migrating from the reference basin into the treated basin. This behavioral response, coupled with deeper vertical extensions of fish habitat, resulted in the treated basin supporting a density and biomass of fish that was twice as great as in the reference basin. Higher DO concentrations enabled cisco in the treated basin to feed deeper into the hypolimnion, and incorporate more benthic species into their diets, than those in the reference basin. Increased DO concentrations in both basins resulted in expansion of whole-lake cisco habitat, and whole-lake fish density increased 5-fold and corresponding biomass tripled during treatment. Although prey base for cisco increased during oxysenation, per capita food quantity decreased. Growth rate and condition of cisco in Amisk Lake also decreased during treatment years cnmpared with pretreatment data, suggesting a density-dependent relationship with biomass. In contrast, in llntreated Baptiste Lake, where the hypolimnion remained anoxic each summer, cisco were restricted to epilimnetic waters, and density, biomass, and growth rate remained low. These results suggest thst through expansion of suitable habitat, hypolimnetic oxygenation can enhance cold-water fish production, especially if combined with regulated fish exploitation.

Emporium of the north: Fort Chipewyan and the fur trade to 1835


Author(s): Parker, J. M. P.

Year: 1987

Abstract:
This study examines the establishment of the fur trade at Lake Athabasca, with Fort Chipewyan as its focus. It covers the period from the entry of Peter Pond in 1778, to 1835. By then, the fur trade had recovered from the damaging effects of the competition between the North West Company and the Hudson's Bay Company that preceded their amalgamation in 1821. The study portrays the life of a fort as it was related to the fur trade of a district. Fort Chipewyan, headquarters of both the North West Company's and Hudson's Bay Company's Athabasca enterprises, offers an opportunity to examine the fur trade under the differing conditions prior to and after 1821. Although documents are lacking for the North West period, there are sufficient records to indicate the conditions of the trade. Fort Chipewyan, the first European settlement in Alberta, was ideally situated for the fur trade, located as it is at the hub of a drainage system. The fort was reached from the south by the Athabasca River and the streams running to the north and to the west became highways for expansion of the trade. Lake Athabasca stretches to the east. As a base for extending the trade, Fort Chipewyan ranked second, surpassed only by Fort William on Lake Superior. It was not only the fur trade that benefited from the establishment of Fort Chipewyan, however, because as the "Grand Magazine of the North" it became the base of operations for land explorers. Alexander Mackenzie, John Franklin, George Back, and John Richardson were a few of the men who gained fame after passing through its gates.

End pit lakes technical guidance document


Author(s): Westcott, F., & Watson L.

Year: 2007

Abstract:
This Technical Guidance Document is intended to provide preliminary design and management recommendations for End Pit Lakes (EPLs) in the Athabasca oil sands area. EPLs are an integral component in the management, operation and final reclamation landscape of oil sands development. This Technical Guidance Document will provide managers and oil sands industry representatives with guidelines to help resolve the optimal design and EPL parameters for their respective projects. This Technical Guidance Document is a living document and is meant to be flexible and responsive in its content. The first edition is based on knowledge gathered to date (2007) and will be updated as new information and research results become available. The second edition is expected in about 5 years, or in 2012, and should expand upon the current knowledge base, research results and recommendations for EPL design and management. An EPL will be established in a mined-out pit of an excavated area. It will consist of a bottom substrate capped with water; soft tailings or other process-related materials may be placed on top of the bottom substrate. An EPL will need to be controlled, managed and monitored throughout much of its initial filling and during discharge to downstream aquatic environments. Ultimately, the EPL will become a biologically active, self-sustaining and functional ecosystem. There are uncertainties regarding the construction, maintenance and final success of EPLs. The development of EPLs as a reclamation tool for process-affected waters raises issues of concerns for regional stakeholders. This document summarizes the perspectives and concerns of regulators, environmental and community groups, Aboriginals and the oil sands industry itself. Applicable government legislation, guidelines and policies are summarized. Historical data are insufficient to determine a realistic outcome of the final features of EPLs. Modelling and relevant background studies have been the basis of research, but a fully realized EPL has yet to be constructed. Issues to be considered during the development, implementation and management of EPLs include the design, amounts and inflow/outflow rates of reclamation and natural waters, water quality, stratification and the toxicity and/or concentrations of compounds. EPLs will need to meet water quality guidelines prior to release to adjacent environments. Issues also include potential impacts to aquatic life, the bioaccumulation of compounds within the food web and the development and sustainability of the ecosystem. Ongoing research, monitoring and new technologies will fill in these gaps. This document summarizes the results of historic research on EPLs. Current research directed by the CEMA EPLSG is also summarized. To date, the EPLSG research has focused on the selection and refinement of models best suited to predicting the potential for meromixis in EPLs. Nomographs have been developed that predict the stratification behaviour of lakes over time under various salinity, depth and size features. Future research will focus on further improvement of meromictic modelling, the influence of water quality on meromixis and biophysical modelling. Key physical, chemical and biological components to be considered during the design and management of EPLs are described. Recommended design specifications to attain the goal or desired outcome of these components are also compiled in table format. Monitoring requirements including key parameters and frequency are included. Adaptive management is recommended as a method of incorporating flexibility and responsiveness to ongoing management challenges. The process of designing, managing and operating an EPL is summarized, as is the process for obtaining a reclamation certificate.

Engineering and economics of enhanced oil recovery in the Canadian oil sands


Author(s): Hester III, S. A.

Year: 2014

Abstract:
Canada and Venezuela contain massive unconventional oil deposits accounting for over two thirds of newly discovered proven oil reserves since 2002. Canada, primarily in northern Alberta province, has between 1.75 and 1.84 trillion barrels of hydrocarbon resources that as of 2013 are obtained approximately equally through surface extraction or enhanced oil recovery (EOR) (World Energy Council, 2010). Due to their depth and viscosity, thermal based EOR will increasingly be responsible for producing the vast quantities of bitumen residing in Canada’s Athabasca, Cold Lake, and Peace River formations. Although the internationally accepted 174-180 billion barrels recoverable ranks Canada third globally in oil reserves, it represents only a 9-10% average recovery factor of its very high viscosity deposits (World Energy Council, 2010). As thermal techniques are refined and improved, in conjunction with methods under development and integrating elements of existing but currently separate processes, engineers and geoscientists aim to improve recovery rates and add tens of billions of barrels of oil to Canada’s reserves (Cenovus Energy, 2013). The Government of Canada estimates 315 billion barrels recoverable with the right combination of technological improvements and sustained high oil prices (Government of Canada, 2013). Much uncertainty and skepticism surrounds how this 75% increase is to be accomplished. This document entails a thorough analysis of standard and advanced EOR techniques and their potential incremental impact in Canada’s bitumen deposits. Due to the extraordinary volume of hydrocarbon resources in Canada, a small percentage growth in ultimate recovery satisfies years of increased petroleum demand from the developing world, affects the geopolitics within North America and between it and the rest of the world, and provides material benefits to project economics. This paper details the enhanced oil recovery methods used in the oil sands deposits while exploring new developments and their potential technical and economic effect. CMG Stars reservoir simulation is leveraged to test both the feasible recoveries of and validate the physics behind select advanced techniques. These technological and operational improvements are aggregated and an assessment produced on Canada’s total recoverable petroleum reserves. Canada has, by far, the largest bitumen recovery operation in the world (World Energy Council, 2010). Due to its resource base and political environment, the nation is likely to continue as the focus point for new developments in thermal EOR. Reservoir characteristics and project analysis are thus framed using Canada and its reserves.

Fisheries survey of the Beaver Creek Diversion System, 1978


Author(s): O'Neil, J. P.

Year: 1979

Abstract:
On three occasions during the period May-October, 1978, R.L.& L. Environmental Services Ltd. conducted fish sampling in the Beaver Creek Diversion System. These efforts were oriented towards providing an inventory of postdiversion fish populations. The study was designed not only to update the existing data base, but to provide quantified and reproducible catch/unit effort data (CUE) which could effectively serve as a basis for future monitoring of fish populations. Sampling gear employed in the study included gill nets, beach seine, and back-pack electrofisher. While a total of 11 species were encountered in the study area, only 6 were recorded in the upper diversion system (i.e., upstream of the Poplar Creek dam). Included in this latter group were two species of catostomids (white sucker, longnose sucker), the fathead minnow, brook stickleback, lake chub and spoonhead sculpin (Upper Beaver Creek only). Species collected in Poplar Creek, additional to those recorded in the upper diversion system, were Arctic grayling, northern pike, yellow perch, burbot and troutperch. The spoonhead sculpin was not collected in Poplar Creek. Pertinent life history information was collected for each of the species in the study area and subsequently analysed by computer. This material is provided in a separate data volume. Because of the significance of the white sucker in the diversion system, life history data for this species are presented in this report.

Hydrochemistry of Phanerozoic Strata northeast Alberta


Author(s): Hitchon, B.

Year: 1991

Abstract:
The Northeast Alberta study area is defined as 55� to 58�N, and 110� to 114� W. A total of 2933 formation water analyses from the area were entered into the Alberta Geological Survey Well Data Base, verified, and subjected to a variety of electronic, manual-electronic and manual culling to leave a final data base of 525 analyses on which this study was based. Salinity ranges from freshwater to 325,000 mg/l, and there are corresponding maximum contents of Cl (200,000 mg/l), Ca (40,000 mg/l) and Mg (8000 mg/l). Nine maps illustrate the distribution of salinity, which is essentially depth (temperature) related except where there is incursion of fresher waters from overlying aquifers. Sulfate is high (500-5500 mg/l) in aquifers in which anhydrite is present (Elk Point hydrostratigraphic unit -- Prairie Formation; Beaverhill Lake aquifer -- Fort Vermilion Formation; and Grosmont aquifer -- Hondo Formation). Formation waters in the Elk Point hydrostratigraphic unit from near the updip solution edge of the Prairie aquiclude (halite) are similar to those of saline springs in the valley of the Athabasca River, which have been shown to originate from solution of evaporites by meteoric water. Based on the composition of their formation waters the aquifers can be combined into groups separated by aquitards, as follows: Viking aquifer (weak Joli Fou aquitard); Grand Rapids aquifer (strong, regional Clearwater aquitard); Clearwater, Wabiskaw and McMurray aquifers; Wabamun and Winterburn aquifers (weak Upper Ireton aquitard); Grosmont aquifer (strong Lower Ireton aquitard); Beaverhill Lake aquifer (significant, regional Prairie aquiclude); Elk Point hydrostratigraphic unit (mainly Keg River aquifer); Precambrian aquiclude. In summary, the formation waters of the Northeast Alberta area are an extension of those in the adjacent Peace River Arch area, exhibit similar characteristics, and have similar origins.

Hydrogeologic characterization of a newly constructed saline-sodic clay overburden hill


Author(s): Chapman, D. E.

Year: 2008

Abstract:
Syncrude Canada Ltd (Syncrude) Mildred Lake operation is the largest producer of crude oil from oil sands mining in Canada. A saline-sodic clay-shale overburden known as the Clearwater Formation (Kc) must be removed in order to access the oil-bearing McMurray Formation (Km). The potential concerns associated with the reclamation of overburden structures include shale weathering and salt release and migration, resulting in salinization of groundwater, surface water, and reclamation soil covers. South Bison Hill (SBH) is one example of a Kc overburden structure located at the Syncrude Mildred Lake Operation. The general objective of this study is to develop a preliminary conceptual/interpretative model of the hydrogeology of the newly reclaimed SBH at the Syncrude mine site. A number of tasks were undertaken to meet this general objective. The first, and most important aspect of this study was to develop a geological model of SBH including pile geometry and depositional history of the hill. Secondly, to gain an understanding of the field conditions, a program was carried out over 2002 and 2003 to obtain pile physical characteristics. The geological model revealed that there are four main geological sections of SBH of different materials using different construction methods. The field data were used to verify the geological model, which illustrated the differences in hydraulic conductivities and geochemical signatures between the different sections. All information was used to develop a simple steady-state numerical seepage model of SBH to be used as a tool to investigate the response of the water levels of SBH to variations in the model parameters. The model illustrated that groundwater flow is largely controlled by a more permeable section on the south side of SBH and an unstructured Kc fill at the base of the pile. A sensitivity analysis was conducted on the model changing the flux into the pile, the permeability of the materials, and most importantly the head value of the tailings facility located on the north side both showing to be influential on the elevation of the water table through SBH.

Inhibition of ABC transport proteins by oil sands process affected water


Year: 2016

Abstract:
The ATP-binding cassette (ABC) superfamily of transporter proteins is important for detoxification of xenobiotics. For example, ABC transporters from the multidrug-resistance protein (MRP) subfamily are important for excretion of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their metabolites. Effects of chemicals in the water soluble organic fraction of relatively fresh oil sands process affected water (OSPW) from Base Mine Lake (BML-OSPW) and aged OSPW from Pond 9 (P9-OSPW) on the activity of MRP transporters were investigated in vivo by use of Japanese medaka at the fry stage of development. Activities of MRPs were monitored by use of the lipophilic dye calcein, which is transported from cells by ABC proteins, including MRPs. To begin to identify chemicals that might inhibit activity of MRPs, BML-OSPW and P9-OSPW were fractionated into acidic, basic, and neutral fractions by use of mixed-mode sorbents. Chemical compositions of fractions were determined by use of ultrahigh resolution orbitrap mass spectrometry in ESI+ and ESI− mode. Greater amounts of calcein were retained in fry exposed to BML-OSPW at concentration equivalents greater than 1× (i.e., full strength). The neutral and basic fractions of BML-OSPW, but not the acidic fraction, caused greater retention of calcein. Exposure to P9-OSPW did not affect the amount of calcein in fry. Neutral and basic fractions of BML-OSPW contained relatively greater amounts of several oxygen-, sulfur, and nitrogen-containing chemical species that might inhibit MRPs, such as O+, SO+, and NO+ chemical species, although secondary fractionation will be required to conclusively identify the most potent inhibitors. Naphthenic acids (O2−), which were dominant in the acidic fraction, did not appear to be the cause of the inhibition. This is the first study to demonstrate that chemicals in the water soluble organic fraction of OSPW inhibit activity of this important class of proteins. However, aging of OSPW attenuates this effect and inhibition of the activity of MRPs by OSPW from Base Mine Lake does not occur at environmentally relevantconcentrations.

Modelling catchment response to acid deposition: A regional dual application of the MAGIC model to soils and lakes in the Athabasca oil sands region, Alberta


Year: 2010

Abstract:
The effects-based acid emissions management framework (EMF) for determining the need for emission control policies in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region, Canada is dependent on model simulations of future soil and surface water chemistry. An approach for regional application of the Model of Acidification of Groundwater in Catchments (MAGIC) was developed that addresses the differential sensitivity of forest soils and lakes. The approach used was a dual application wherein a plot-scale calibration to forest soils and a catchment-based calibration to lake chemistry were used to account for poorly understood hydrologic connections between uplands and lakes, key processes including sulphur (S) and nitrogen (N) retention as well as groundwater sources of base cations to the lakes. The regional application was carried out at 50 lake catchments currently monitored for response to acid deposition. Simulated forest soil chemistry (modelled at 28 catchments) exhibited small changes in base saturation under future conditions of elevated acid deposition, while in general molar BC:Al exhibited considerable change but remained well above critical chemical limits used to protect acid-sensitive forest soils. Similarly, simulations of charge balance acid neutralizing capacity (ANCCB) for the lakes suggested very small decreases since industrialization, and forecast projections under acid deposition double the current level suggested that only one lake will reach the critical threshold for ANCCB (75 μeq L–1) specified by the EMF. There is limited potential for acidification impacts at the study sites.

Oil sands tailings technology deployment roadmaps. Project Report Volume 2 - Component 1 results


Author(s): Sobkowicz, J.

Year: 2012

Abstract:
Alberta Innovates – Energy and Environment Solutions (AI-EES), in collaboration with the recently formed Oil Sands Tailings Consortium (OSTC), contracted the Consortium of Oil Sands Tailings Management Consultants (CTMC) to prepare a technology deployment roadmap for “end to end” solutions for oil sands tailings. This report presents the findings and recommendations from Component 1 of the team, charged with gathering available information on oil sands tailings, summarizing the current state of knowledge and practice, and identifying and describing tailings management technologies used in the oil sands and around the world. The other component groups have used the information from this report in their assessment and preparation of the roadmap. . Component 1 identified 549 technologies through a review of commercial practice in the oil sands, interviews with OSTC and CTMC members, a literature review, discussions with vendors, and a newspaper advertisement. With refinement, these were reduced to 101 unique technologies. We classified the information in two main ways – the stage of development for each technology and its position in the mining life cycle. The former was divided into research, development and commercial, using the specific definitions given in this report. The latter was divided into the following categories: mining, extraction, tailings processing, tailings deposition, reclamation, and water treatment. We further identified technologies that were used com- mercially elsewhere but not in the oil sands (which turn out to be few), and those which were variations or enhancements of the base 101 technologies (the enhancements were mostly chemical aids for tailings processing). We’ve identified just a few technologies in the mining category that can be used to reduce the amount of fines reporting to tailings. Similarly, there are only a few opportunities in water based extraction to influence tailings behaviour in a meaningful way, but other, non-water based methods may provide an opportunity to avoid creating tailings slurries, if some of the environmental and economic hurdles can be overcome. Most of the technologies considered in this study were in the tailings processing and tailings capping and deposition categories. There were also a number of reclamation and water treatment technologies that can be applied to a variety of tailings situations. It remains critical that the process affected water chemistry be adjusted or maintained such that it does not adversely impact bitumen recovery, and can be dealt with safely in the reclaimed landscape and made suitable for eventual discharge to the environment (that is, that the total dissolved solids, pH, and chronic and acute toxicity are kept within favourable limits). To summarize the state of practice for tailings management, we identified eight main tailings schemes, each composed of seven to ten technologies. In all, there are 21 tailings technologies already in commercial use, many mature, some coming on stream just recently (and may be considered pre-commercial) mostly in response to recent changes in regulations. The C4 Team used this framework for a gap analysis, identifying where existing commercial technologies Page iii could be improved, replaced, or augmented by other technologies to create tailings that better meet tailings management goals. We’ve also made specific conclusions and recommendations regarding several aspects of commercial operations, most notably to revisit the processing of froth tailings to reduce its potential environmental impacts. To provide a summary of tailings development, we compiled a table of tailings pilots and prototypes conducted over the past 30 years. Many of these pilots have led to commercial implementation. We’ve recommended revisiting the results of the other pilots to see if there are any technologies that should be reconsidered for commercialization, in the light of the current regulations and economic environment. For the technologies at the research stage, the supporting data varies from excellent to nearly nonexistent. We’ve recommended developing a standard suite of laboratory tests to put research technologies on a common footing, and reviewing the existing information to see what technologies require further testing and which ones might be candidates for pilots. Furthermore, we’ve recommended that AI-EES and the OSTC develop a formal scanning process to seek out and receive new technologies as they are developed, and to embark on their own research and development (R&D) programs over the next 30 years. We’ve framed our recommendations within the text that are gathered in the final chapter of the report.

Plains hydrology and reclamation project: Summary report


Year: 1990

Abstract:
Between 1979 and 1988, the Plains Hydrology and Reclamation Project (PHRP) investigated interactions of groundwater, soils, and geology as they affect successful reclamation of surface coal mines in the plains of Alberta. The overall goal of PHRP was: (1) to predict the long-term success and the hydrologic impacts of current reclamation practices; and (2) to develop reclamation technology that will allow modification of current practice to assure long-term success and mitigate deleterious environmental consequences. The first phase of the study, which was completed in 1984, included characterization and instrumentation of two study areas: the Battle River study area, which included Diplomat, Vesta and Paintearth Mines, and the Lake Wabamun study area, which included the Highvale and Whitewood Mines. In the Battle River mining area, the study sites at both Diplomat and Vesta Mines were situated in areas that were mined during the transition from small-scale surface mining to modern, larger scale mining practices. At both mines initial instrumentation, which was installed in 1979 and 1980, was situated in areas of older mining that were reclaimed to pre-modern standards. Later instrumentation, which was installed between 1985 and 1987, was situated in newly reclaimed areas that had been mined using current practice. Paintearth Mine was opened in the early 1980's and all instrumentation was installed in newly reclaimed sites. In the Lake Wabamun mining area, the instrumented areas at both Highvale and Whitewood Mines were located in pits that had been mined during the early to mid-1970's using modern mining and reclamation practices. Active mining continued in other pits of these mines throughout the project. Research from the first phase of study led to the focusing on three problem areas in the second phase of the project: (1) the potential salinization of reconstructed soils from shallow groundwater; (2) the potential deterioration of capability for agriculture as a result of differential subsidence; and (3) the potential changes in the chemical and physical characteristics of reconstructed soils. This report summarizes the results of both phases of PHRP. It brings the project's findings together in one coherent document, and as such exhibits the rationale behind a holistic approach to reclamation research. For a more in-depth treatment of any particular topic, the reader is directed to the project's extensive technical reports and publications (Appendix 1). Mining and reclamation of coal in the plains of Alberta affect two important resources: groundwater resources and agricultural resources (soil and landscape). The most important hydrological impact of surface mining of coal in the plains of Alberta is the reduction in groundwater supply capability within mined areas. Groundwater supplies in areas of potential surface mining of coal are derived almost entirely from either fractured coal beds or sandstone overlying the coal. Surface mining removes these aquifers and replaces them with mine spoil, whose properties, in general, preclude its development as a water supply. The agricultural resources disrupted by mining are replaced by a reconstructed landscape that is not initially in a state of either physical or chemical equilibrium. Depending on reclamation practices, evolution of the reconstructed landscape may result in an agricultural resource that may be better, as good as, or potentially degraded with respect to the pre-mining resource. Groundwater Resources: The hydraulic properties of mine spoil in the plains of Alberta preclude development of water supplies above the base of disturbance within reclaimed mine sites. Cast overburden spoil has values of hydraulic conductivity that are considerably lower than those of the pre-mining coal aquifers, in the range of 10-7 to 10-9 m/s. At these values of hydraulic conductivity, the spoil is not capable of supplying water to wells. In addition, the major ion chemistry of groundwater in mine spoil was found to be considerably degraded relative to pre-mining aquifers. Mean Total Dissolved Solids values are generally 5000 to 7000 mg/L, and the water is generally saturated with respect to calcite, dolomite, and gypsum. At these concentrations, the water is unfit for consumption by both humans and livestock. The brackish nature of groundwater in mine spoil appears to be an inevitable consequence of mining in the plains region of Alberta. There is no known method of materials handling that would alter either the hydraulic conductivity of mine spoil or the chemical make up of the groundwater in mine spoil in this region. We conclude that disruption of shallow groundwater supplies within and above the coal is an unavoidable result of mining in the plains region. The only exception to this generalization would be where extensive, thick sand or gravel deposits lie on the bedrock surface or within the unconsolidated drift overburden. As indicated by Trudell and Moran (1986), it might be possible in such an instance to reconstruct a zone with significantly higher hydraulic conductivity by selectively handling and placing this sand or gravel. There is limited potential to replace the shallow groundwater supplies that are disturbed by mining. Deeper coal or sandstone aquifers that are capable of replacing the shallow coal aquifers removed by mining are present only in some areas. In places where the water quality in these aquifers is acceptable for human consumption, these aquifers offer the best option to replace water supplies lost as a result of mining. AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES The impacts of mining on agricultural resources occur in two time frames: (1) immediate effects, and (2) progressive effects that have long-term implications. Immediate effects focus on the product of the soil reconstruction process. Materials handling associated with mining results in the mixing of the pre-existing soils to produce a reconstructed soil mantle of uniform thickness with properties that are an average of the pre-mining soils. Present requirements for the replacement of up to 1.5 m of subsoil material in addition to topsoil above sodic spoil appear to assure immediate postreclamation capability that is comparable to that prior to mining. There is no evidence to suggest that replacement of greater thicknesses of buffer material would further improve capability. Progressive effects focus on limitations and improvements to agriculture that develop over time; specifically, differential subsidence, which leads to ponding, soil salinization in lowland settings, and leaching in upland settings. Differential subsidence forms depressions that are aligned between the original spoil ridges, and appears to be an unavoidable consequence of dragline mining (Dusseault et al. 1985). These depressions, which typically occupy from five to ten percent of the reclaimed surface, increase infiltration and accelerate differential subsidence by ponding water during spring melt and heavy summer rain storms. As a result, cultivation patterns are disrupted, seeding and/or crop growth is restricted within the ponded depressions, and salinization may occur in the fringe area around the depression. Salinization is a natural phenomenon whose conditions for formation are met in lowland reclaimed settings where ponding occurs, particularly if there is also ponding in the adjacent upland. Ponds in the lowland area cause the water table to persist near the surface. Where there is sufficient ponding in the upland to maintain the water table at levels above that in the adjacent lowland, groundwater will flow toward the lowland. In this setting, the fringe area around ponds in the lowland will become salinized. The flatter the landscape in the lowland, the larger the salinized area will be. The impact of the negative progressive effects of mining and reclamation on agricultural resources can be minimized through modifications of materials placement and grading within existing operations. Grading as much of the upland portion of the reclaimed landscape as feasible into open slopes with integrated drainage can minimize ponding. Pauls et al. (in prep) report that slopes in the range of 1.5 to 3 percent along the long axis of subsidence depressions are sufficient to drain about 90 percent of the water that is ponded on existing reclaimed surfaces. Within the lowland areas, the extent of salinization can be minimized by grading to an undulating to rolling landscape with slopes of 3 percent to 5 percent. This will result in narrower zones around the lowland ponds where the water table is within the critical depth of the surface than when the terrain is more nearly level. There is no known method to prevent the formation of lowland areas where overburden is thinner than the threshold value, other than the expensive process of transporting material from other areas in the mine. These lowland areas can be managed as productive hayland, pasture, or wildlife habitat, which adds much needed variety to the reclaimed landscape. In some cases, it may be desirable to design drainage measures into the materials handling system to facilitate management of the future lowland area.

Planning for Canada's future oil sands pit lakes: An overview of the COSIA demonstration pit lakes project


Author(s): Vandenberg, J. A.

Year: 2014

Abstract:
Pit lakes are one of the most visible legacies of open pit mining that result from permanent modifications to pre-mining topography, hydrology and hydrogeology. The extraction of the non-traditional hydrocarbon resource bitumen from Alberta’s Athabasca Oil Sands using truck-and-shovel techniques will result in the development of 35 pit lakes within the next 50 years. These will be large permanent basins with surface areas ranging from 0.2 to 35 km2 and depths ranging from 5 to 42 m. Only one lake, Syncrude’s Base Mine Lake, presently exists. Stakeholders and regulators are concerned that concentrations of constituents such as naphthenic acids, PAHs, ammonia and chloride in lake water will impair the environmental function and social utility of these lakes. However, numerical models have predicted that, within a decade or two of filling, these lakes will become relatively benign systems with the capacity to sustain aquatic ecosystems and to be fully integrated within the Athabasca watershed. To improve our understanding of oil sands pit lake functions, a consortium of oil sands producers called Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) is considering developing a state-of-the-art research facility with three to four demonstration pit lakes, a dozen experimental ponds, and a smaller mesocosm and microcosm facility. The proposed demonstration pit lakes will be approximately 200 m in diameter and 20 m deep, will be constructed using oil sands waste materials and process waters representing proposed closure strategies, and will be monitored regularly for at least a decade. The DPL Project will include funding for external researchers (both Canadian and international) to conduct publishable research on specific knowledge gaps. On a global scale, this will be one of the first research initiatives from the petroleum-, metals-, coal-, uranium-, diamond-, or aggregate-mining sectors to physically test pit lake predictions on this scale in advance of lake formation. This presentation will review the content and status of the COSIA Demonstration Pit Lakes Project, and will highlight potential research opportunities.

Plants and habitats — a consideration of Dene ethnoecology in northwestern Canada


Author(s): Johnson, L. M.

Year: 2008

Abstract:
This paper discusses local understanding of plants and habitats, based on the linguistic evidence [terms for plants and (or) habitats] gathered from ethnobotanical and ethnoecological field work conducted with several Dene Nations of the Canadian northwestern boreal forest and adjacent regions. Nations involved in the study include (Mackenzie Delta Region), Sahtú’otine’ (Great Bear Lake), Kaska Dena (southern Yukon), and Witsuwit’en (northwest British Columbia). Key plant-related habitats include meadow, “swamp”, forest, “willows”, and “brush”. The ethnobotanical classification of willows is explored in conjunction with the explanation of the Dene habitat concept. In local classifications, ‘willow’ is not co-extensive with the genus Salix, but includes a variety of medium to tall woody shrubs that lack either conspicuous flowers, ‘berries’, or thorns; these may include shrubby species of Salix, Alnus, Cornus, and Betula. Shoreline and alpine environments are also discussed as plant habitats. Dene use of alpine environments and resources is ancient, according to the results of recent alpine ice patch research in the Yukon region. The Human dimensions of habitat knowledge are presented. Indigenous concepts of plant taxa and of landscape associations or habitats may differ substantially from those of scientific botany and ecology, and are based in a holistic and interactive ethnoecology. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Potential impacts of beaver on oil sands reclamation success - an analysis of available literature


Year: 2013

Abstract:
The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is a large semi-aquatic rodent that has played a central role in shaping the Canadian boreal landscape, and colonial Canadian history. Exploitation of North American beaver populations to supply the European hat industry spurred the westward expansion of European explorers and traders into the continental interior. With intensive unregulated harvest, beavers virtually disappeared across much of their range; though populations are recovering, the species is only about 10% as abundant as it was before the fur trade took its toll. As a result, much of the recent ecological history of the Canadian boreal forest has occurred in the absence of this keystone ecosystem engineer, and the ecological state that we perceive as natural is in many regions quite different than it was a century ago. Beavers, while playing an important role in structuring streams and wetlands by altering vegetation communities and water flow patterns, may also affect human structures. In the mineable oil sands region of northeastern Alberta, much of the landscape will be impacted by mining. Mine sites will have to be reclaimed, and those reclaimed sites will consist of engineered landforms (including water bodies and waterways); the long-term hydrological and ecological function of those sites may be vulnerable to beaver activity. In an effort to determine if approaches exist that could manage the risk of beavers colonizing and negatively impacting reclaimed sites, we performed an extensive literature search and analysis. Our objective was to examine characteristics of beaver ecology that might potentially impact reclamation plans, and to identify possible methods to mitigate those impacts. We also include information on traditional use, historical abundance, and current abundance in the mineable oil sands region to provide important historical and ecological context. Although beavers inhabit a range of aquatic habitats, the focus of our review is on watercourses that could be dammed by beavers. Of the aquatic habitats which will be constructed during reclamation, these systems are probably the most vulnerable to impacts from beaver activity. Note, however, that inlet and outflow streams from lakes may be vulnerable to beaver activity, which could impact the performance of constructed lakes in a variety of ways. Beavers alter stream form and function, create wetlands, and change vegetation patterns. The most important predictor of beaver occurrence is stream gradient, with low gradients being associated with higher beaver activity. Stream depth and width, soil drainage, and stream substrate are also important. Although beavers may also respond to vegetation factors, such as tree or shrub species and density, hydrological factors are more important predictors of beaver occupancy of a site. The primary forage preferred by beavers includes deciduous tree and shrub species. Aspen (Populous tremuloides) is the species most preferred by beaver, and is a common component of reclamation plantings and natural recolonization of reclamation sites in the oil sands region. Beavers are central-place foragers, meaning foraging is concentrated around a central home base. They typically harvest deciduous trees and shrubs up to 60 m or more from the water, but most harvest occurs less than 30 to 40 m from the water’s edge. Predation (and predation risk) restricts the size of beavers’ foraging areas, and may also regulate their population size. Management of wolf populations to limit predation on caribou in northeastern Alberta may have significant indirect effects on beaver abundance and distribution by releasing them from predation pressure. The boreal forest ecosystem of Canada evolved over millennia with the beaver as a keystone species altering hydrological systems, creating vast areas of wetlands and beaver meadows, changing vegetation communities and modifying geomorphological processes. Reclamation of functional ecosystems in the region must therefore integrate beavers and their engineered structures. The most ecologically- and cost-effective approach is to design reclaimed areas with the objective of including beaver, but directing beaver activity to areas away from vulnerable reclamation structures. Ecological function requires the presence of beaver on the post-reclamation landscape, and the species is important to First Nations peoples and other trappers in the area. Although beaver abundance can be expected to increase in the area after reclamation, their activities will result in the replacement of existing vegetation with species of lower nutritional quality to beaver (conifer trees). This is expected to result in a beaver population decline and then stabilization over time. With beavers an integral component of the functional landscape, it is important to create “beaver exclusion zones” to ensure that the impact of the species is diverted to areas where beaver activity does not damage reclamation structures. There are very few existing studies of beaver impacts to reclaimed areas. Incorporating ecologically-based strategies for keeping beaver density low in sensitive areas at the outset of a reclamation project, and then monitoring the effectiveness of that strategy, is the best advice that can be derived from our analysis of the existing literature. Beavers could be discouraged from settling at a site by creating streams with steep gradients (>10%) that are wide and deep enough to ensure substantial water flows, are armoured with rock or cobble bottoms, and are bordered by coniferous tree species and/or grass and sedge species. Trees should be planted at high density to prevent growth of shrubs and deciduous trees in the understory, as these are preferred by beaver. Deciduous vegetation should not be planted during reclamation near sites where beavers are to be excluded, and it may be necessary to remove existing deciduous trees and shrubs and replace them with conifers, grasses and sedges in these areas. Although planting specific types of vegetation may be used to discourage beavers from settling a certain area in the short term, natural succession could eventually result in other vegetation communities attractive to beavers. Therefore, unless long-term vegetation management is envisioned, reclamation plans should not rely on using vegetation to dissuade beaver activity in sensitive areas alone, though this approach may be used in combination with other methods, especially in the few decades immediately following reclamation. Note that the goal is to plan for a maintenance-free environment in which ongoing beaver control is unnecessary, and the use of multiple strategies in tandem to guide beaver activity is more likely to achieve this goal. More active, maintenance-intensive techniques could be used to limit the damage caused by beaver dams to sensitive areas. These techniques include lethal (e.g., kill trapping or shooting) and nonlethal (e.g., relocation) methods to reduce population density. However, these methods require constant effort, and can be expensive. Another approach is to manipulate water flow through existing beaver dams using pipe drainage systems; this allows the beaver dam to stay in place, while reducing the risk that it will trap enough water to be dangerous if the dam should fail. Again, however, these drainage systems require long-term maintenance. One approach may be more sustainable in the long term and require less maintenance: minimize or maximize water flow through engineered channels, as beavers are less likely to use very low-flow and very high-flow watercourses. Note that beavers may still affect these channels, especially when population densities are high or other habitat is unavailable; however, the probability of beavers affecting very low-flow or high-flow channels is lower than for watercourses with more moderate flows. Creating several dispersed low-flow channels may make an area less desirable to beavers compared to a single moderate flow channel. Similarly, multiple low- to moderate-flow channels could be created, with some having characteristics that attract beavers (“decoys”) and others that do not (“exclusions”), allowing water flow to continue through some channels even in the presence of beavers. “Pre-dam” fences can be installed on decoy streams to create a structure to encourage beavers to occupy a site where damage is not a concern. Discharge could be controlled by regulating water flow through exclusion streams that are not dammed, or by installing flow devices though dams on decoy streams. A similar approach might be used on culverts that allow streams to flow beneath roadways; flow devices could be used proactively at these sites, and/or oversized culverts could be installed to allow maintenance of the natural width of the stream channel and reduce the noise of running water, which attracts beaver activity. Although many different landforms on the reclaimed landscape may be vulnerable to beaver activity, a few are considered critical areas where beaver impacts must be controlled, including the outlets of lakes, side-hill drainage systems, and constructed peatlands. Beaver activity at the outlet of constructed lakes could cause instability in containment structures, negatively affect littoral and riparian zones around the lake, and increase the probability of catastrophic outburst flooding. Damming of side-hill drainage systems could cause stream avulsion and routing of water flow into a new pathway not engineered for a stream, causing increased erosion. Flooding of constructed peatlands could convert them to open-water systems, thereby subverting their intended ecological function. These critical areas should be protected from beaver activities, while other areas should be designed to accommodate this important species. In practice, several different approaches – tailored to specific situations and landforms – will be necessary to develop and implement plans that accommodate beavers as a part of the post-reclamation landscape. As so few data exist to inform effective reclamation in the presence of beavers, all of the methods we suggest carry an unknown degree of risk. This risk can be decreased in the future by adapting methods based on observed effectiveness. We recommend implementing a research and adaptive management program on the influence of beavers on reclamation within the context of oil sands reclamation in northeast Alberta. Lack of existing information, particularly in northeast Alberta, illustrates the need to implement research that documents the positive and negative influence of beavers on reclamation sites and tests alternative methods to prevent negative and support positive influences. Otherwise reclamation strategies will be ad-hoc and tenuous, with a mixed success rate. A research and monitoring program would ideally contribute to a standardized strategic approach to mitigating negative beaver influences on reclamation of watercourses in the oil sands region. Beavers are, to a certain extent, unpredictable. No single approach will guarantee that a site will be unaffected by beaver activity. We suggest that multiple management approaches be simultaneously implemented at sites that are particularly vulnerable or critical for the functioning of the reclaimed landscape (e.g., outlet streams from constructed lakes). It is impossible to predict all eventualities, as the character of the reclaimed landscape will change over time due to successional processes, fire, global climate change, and resource extraction. The information we provide is the best available based on limited current knowledge, and provides the best chance for minimizing risk while accommodating this keystone species. Ultimately, the presence of beavers on reclaimed oil sands leases will increase biodiversity, enhance ecosystem goods and services, and assist in developing ecosystems that are consistent with natural systems in the boreal region.

Potential impacts of beaver on oil sands reclamation success–an analysis of available literature


Year: 2013

Abstract:
The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is a large semi-aquatic rodent that has played acentral role in shaping the Canadian boreal landscape, and colonial Canadian history. Exploitation of North American beaver populations to supply the European hat industry spurred the westward expansion of European explorers and traders into the continental interior. With intensive unregulated harvest, beavers virtually disappeared across much of their range; though populations are recovering, the species is only about 10% as abundant as it was before the furtrade took its toll. As a result, much of the recent ecological history of the Canadian boreal forest has occurred in the absence of this keystone ecosystem engineer, and the ecological state that we perceive as natural is in many regions quite different than it was a century ago. Beavers, while playing an important role in structuring streams and wetlands by altering vegetation communities and water flow patterns, may also affect human structures. In the mineable oil sands region of northeastern Alberta, much of the landscape will be impacted by mining. Mine sites will have to be reclaimed, and those reclaimed sites will consist of engineered landforms (including water bodies and waterways); the long-term hydrological and ecological function of those sites may be vulnerable to beaver activity. In an effort to determine if approaches exist that could manage the risk of beavers colonizing and negatively impactingreclaimed sites, we performed an extensive literature search and analysis. Our objective was to examine characteristics of beaver ecology that might potentially impact reclamation plans, and to identify possible methods to mitigate those impacts. We also include information on traditional use, historical abundance, and current abundance in the mineable oil sands region to provide important historical and ecological context. Although beavers inhabit a range of aquatic habitats,the focus of our review is on watercourses that could be dammed by beavers. Of the aquatic habitats which will be constructed during reclamation, these systems are probably the most vulnerable to impacts from beaver activity. Note, however, that inlet and outflow streams fromlakes may be vulnerable to beaver activity, which could impact the performance of constructed lakes in a variety of ways. Beavers alter stream form and function, create wetlands, and change vegetation patterns. The most important predictor of beaver occurrence is stream gradient, with low gradients being associated with higher beaver activity. Stream depth and width, soil drainage, and stream substrate are also important. Although beavers may also respond to vegetation factors, such astree or shrub species and density, hydrological factors are more important predictors of beaver occupancy of a site.The primary forage preferred by beavers includes deciduous tree and shrub species. Aspen(Populous tremuloides) is the species most preferred by beaver, and is a common component of reclamation plantings and natural recolonization of reclamation sites in the oil sands region. Beavers are central-place foragers, meaning foraging is concentrated around a central home base. They typically harvest deciduous trees and shrubs up to 60 m or more from the water, but mostharvest occurs less than 30 to 40 m from the water’s edge. Predation (and predation risk) restricts the size of beavers’ foraging areas, and may also regulate their population size. Management of wolf populations to limit predation on caribou in northeastern Alberta may have significant indirect effects on beaver abundance and distribution by releasing them frompredation pressure.The boreal forest ecosystem of Canada evolved over millennia with the beaver as a keystone species altering hydrological systems, creating vast areas of wetlands and beaver meadows,changing vegetation communities and modifying geomorphological processes. Reclamation offunctional ecosystems in the region must therefore integrate beavers and their engineered structures. The most ecologically- and cost-effective approach is to design reclaimed areas withthe objective of including beaver, but directing beaver activity to areas away from vulnerablereclamation structures. Ecological function requires the presence of beaver on the post-reclamation landscape, and the species is important to First Nations peoples and other trappers in the area. Although beaver abundance can be expected to increase in the area after reclamation, their activities will result in the replacement of existing vegetation with species of lower nutritional quality to beaver (conifer trees). This is expected to result in a beaver population decline and then stabilization over time. With beavers an integral component of the functional landscape, it is important to create “beaver exclusion zones” to ensure that the impact of thespecies is diverted to areas where beaver activity does not damage reclamation structures.There are very few existing studies of beaver impacts to reclaimed areas. Incorporating ecologically-based strategies for keeping beaver density low in sensitive areas at the outset of a reclamation project, and then monitoring the effectiveness of that strategy, is the best advice thatcan be derived from our analysis of the existing literature. Beavers could be discouraged from settling at a site by creating streams with steep gradients (>10%) that are wide and deep enoughto ensure substantial water flows, are armoured with rock or cobble bottoms, and are bordered byconiferous tree species and/or grass and sedge species. Trees should be planted at high density to prevent growth of shrubs and deciduous trees in the understory, as these are preferred by beaver. Deciduous vegetation should not be planted during reclamation near sites where beavers are to be excluded, and it may be necessary to remove existing deciduous trees and shrubs and replace them with conifers, grasses and sedges in these areas. Although planting specific typesof vegetation may be used to discourage beavers from settling a certain area in the short term,natural succession could eventually result in other vegetation communities attractive to beavers. Therefore, unless long-term vegetation management is envisioned, reclamation plans should notrely on using vegetation to dissuade beaver activity in sensitive areas alone, though this approachmay be used in combination with other methods, especially in the few decades immediately following reclamation. Note that the goal is to plan for a maintenance-free environment in whichongoing beaver control is unnecessary, and the use of multiple strategies in tandem to guidebeaver activity is more likely to achieve this goal. More active, maintenance-intensive techniques could be used to limit the damage caused bybeaver dams to sensitive areas. These techniques include lethal (e.g., kill trapping or shooting)and nonlethal (e.g., relocation) methods to reduce population density. However, these methodsrequire constant effort, and can be expensive. Another approach is to manipulate water flowthrough existing beaver dams using pipe drainage systems; this allows the beaver dam to stay in place, while reducing the risk that it will trap enough water to be dangerous if the dam shouldfail. Again, however, these drainage systems require long-term maintenance.One approach may be more sustainable in the long term and require less maintenance: minimize or maximize water flow through engineered channels, as beavers are less likely to use very low-flow and very high-flow watercourses. Note that beavers may still affect these channels,especially when population densities are high or other habitat is unavailable; however, the probability of beavers affecting very low-flow or high-flow channels is lower than forwatercourses with more moderate flows. Creating several dispersed low-flow channels maymake an area less desirable to beavers compared to a single moderate flow channel. Similarly, multiple low- to moderate-flow channels could be created, with some having characteristics thatattract beavers (“decoys”) and others that do not (“exclusions”), allowing water flow to continuethrough some channels even in the presence of beavers. “Pre-dam” fences can be installed ondecoy streams to create a structure to encourage beavers to occupy a site where damage is not aconcern. Discharge could be controlled by regulating water flow through exclusion streams that are not dammed, or by installing flow devices though dams on decoy streams. A similar approach might be used on culverts that allow streams to flow beneath roadways; flow devices could be used proactively at these sites, and/or oversized culverts could be installed to allowmaintenance of the natural width of the stream channel and reduce the noise of running water,which attracts beaver activity.Although many different landforms on the reclaimed landscape may be vulnerable to beaver activity, a few are considered critical areas where beaver impacts must be controlled, includingthe outlets of lakes, side-hill drainage systems, and constructed peatlands. Beaver activity at the outlet of constructed lakes could cause instability in containment structures, negatively affectlittoral and riparian zones around the lake, and increase the probability of catastrophic outburstflooding. Damming of side-hill drainage systems could cause stream avulsion and routing ofwater flow into a new pathway not engineered for a stream, causing increased erosion. Floodingof constructed peatlands could convert them to open-water systems, thereby subverting theirintended ecological function. These critical areas should be protected from beaver activities,while other areas should be designed to accommodate this important species.In practice, several different approaches – tailored to specific situations and landforms – will benecessary to develop and implement plans that accommodate beavers as a part of the post-reclamation landscape. As so few data exist to inform effective reclamation in the presence ofbeavers, all of the methods we suggest carry an unknown degree of risk. This risk can bedecreased in the future by adapting methods based on observed effectiveness. We recommend implementing a research and adaptive management program on the influence of beavers onreclamation within the context of oil sands reclamation in northeast Alberta. Lack of existing information, particularly in northeast Alberta, illustrates the need to implement research thatdocuments the positive and negative influence of beavers on reclamation sites and testsalternative methods to prevent negative and support positive influences. Otherwise reclamationstrategies will be ad-hoc and tenuous, with a mixed success rate. A research and monitoring program would ideally contribute to a standardized strategic approach to mitigating negativebeaver influences on reclamation of watercourses in the oil sands region. Beavers are, to a certain extent, unpredictable. No single approach will guarantee that a site willbe unaffected by beaver activity. We suggest that multiple management approaches besimultaneously implemented at sites that are particularly vulnerable or critical for the functioning of the reclaimed landscape (e.g., outlet streams from constructed lakes). It is impossible topredict all eventualities, as the character of the reclaimed landscape will change over time due tosuccessional processes, fire, global climate change, and resource extraction. The information weprovide is the best available based on limited current knowledge, and provides the best chancefor minimizing risk while accommodating this keystone species. Ultimately, the presence of beavers on reclaimed oil sands leases will increase biodiversity, enhance ecosystem goods andservices, and assist in developing ecosystems that are consistent with natural systems in the boreal region.

Preliminary compatibility studies of G.C.O.S. sand tailings pond water with Athabasca River


Year: 1968

Abstract:
On May 30, 1968 G.C.O.S requested permission to discharge 110 x 106 ft3 of effluent from the sands tailings pond at the Fort McMurray site into the Athabasca River during periods of high river flow. G.C.O.S. outlined the events which made this request necessary in order that an adequate base be developed for a stable 200 foot dike. Samples of the tailings pond water were obtained on June 3, 1968 to assess it’s compatibility with the river water. Samples of the A.P.I. separator retention pond effluent, waste water storage pond, and Lake Athabasca were also obtained. Analytical data suggest that a discharge of 10 x 106 I .G.P.D. from the Tailings Pond would minimize effects on the Athabasca River and yet allow the discharge of 110 x 106 ft3 to occur during a 2 month period when river flows exceed 20,000 c.f.s. Sedimentation of the high solids content could be induced by directing the Tailings Pond water to the retention ponds prior to discharge from the waste water storage pond. Assuming that the regular process waste water discharge is maintained at 10 x 106 I.G.P.D., settling time of the Tailings Pond water (10 x 106 l.G.P.D.) would be 7 hours in the retention ponds and 8.4 days in the waste water storage pond. GCOS requested permission to discharge effluent from the sands tailings pond at the Fort McMurray site into the Athabasca River during periods of high river flow. GCOS outlined the events which made this request necessary in order that an adequate base be developed for a stable 200 foot dike.

Probabilities of emission limitation - Analysis of meteorological data


Year: 1977

Abstract:
Promet Environmental Group Ltd. was retained to perform an analysis of the meteorological data available from the Tar Sands area. The probabilities of occurrence of various meteorological parameters will be used as a basis for estimating the frequencies of occurrence and costs associated with Emission Control at Syncrude's Mildred Lake operation. The minisondings which were carried out at Lease C-17 in the Athabasca Tar Sands from 1974 to 1976 form the data base for this study.

Profiling stable isotopes of water signatures to define mass transport mechanisms from water capped fluid fine tailings in the oil sands industry


Author(s): Dompierre, K., & Barbour L.

Year: 2014

Abstract:
Thirty End Pit Lakes (EPLs) are planned for remediation of open pit oil sands mines in the Athabasca Oil Sands region, however their feasibility as a reclamation feature has yet to be fully evaluated. End Pit Lakes are constructed within mined-out pits and many will contain fluid fine tailings (FFT). The main objectives of these lakes are to: (1) provide an effective means of isolating these soft, consolidating tailings within the closure landscape; (2) passively treat mine site water, including expressed FFT pore water; and (3) support the development of a sustainable biological system. Mass transport processes from the FFT to the overlying lake will have considerable influence on EPL performance. Physical mass transport from the FFT to the lake will occur due to diffusion, but will also be affected by advective transport due to tailings self-weight consolidation. Defining physical mass transport mechanisms and rates through the FFT provides insight on geochemical conditions at the FFT – lake water interface, and offers a better understanding of mass balance in the EPL. Syncrude Canada Ltd. has initiated the first full-scale EPL (Base Mine Lake), and established a monitoring program to characterize the physical, geochemical, and biological processes occurring in this new system. The stable isotopes of water (δ2H and δ18O) signature of oil sands process affected water has been shown to be highly distinct from that of freshwater associated with snow melt or rainfall (Baer, 2014). As a result, the isotope composition of the lake water and FFT pore-water can potentially be used as a conservative tracer for mass transport. Samples were collected every 0.1 m across the FFT – lake water interface (2 m above, to 2 m below), at three locations in Base Mine Lake. Water from each sample was analyzed with a Picarro L-2120-i Cavity Ring Down Spectrometer based on the vapour equilibration technique used by Wassenaar et al. (2008) to determine δ2H and δ18O concentrations. These results were compared to δ2H and δ18O concentrations of the lake at multiple locations, as well as inflow and outflow water. Numerical modelling was used to interpret the measured isotope profiles across the FFT – lake water interface and elucidate mass transport mechanisms from the FFT to the lake water.

Regional geology and hydrostratigraphy in northeast Alberta


Year: 1991

Abstract:
The Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority (AOSTRA) is currently planning to expand the Underground Test Facility (UTF) near Fort McMurray in northeast Alberta to a commercial size operation. As part of this expansion, it is envisaged to dispose of produced residual waters by on-site deep well injection. Selection of a disposal zone is currently under way. The upgrading of the UTF operations provides an opportunity for monitoring possible environmental effects related to the deep disposal of waste water resulting from the in situ extraction of bitumen from oil sands. With this in mind, and the additional objective of developing strategies for similar future activities, Environment Canada and the Alberta Research Council initiated a collaborative study of the effects of deep waste injection at the UTF site, with data support and cooperation from AOSTRA. The evaluation of the effects of deep injection of waste water is based on predictive modelling, which requires knowledge of the initial baseline hydrogeological conditions. Because the data are very scarce and incomplete at the local scale, a regional-scale hydrogeological study is required for the identification and characterization of the hydrostratigraphic units at the UTF site. For this purpose, a regional-scale study area is defined in northeast Alberta between latitudes 55�N and 58�N, and longitudes 110�W to 114�W (Tp 70-103, R 1-26, W4 Mer). The first step in the hydrogeological characterization is the description of the geology and the delineation of the hydrostratigraphy, which form the content of this progress report. The geology and hydrostratigraphy of the Phanerozoic sedimentary rocks in northeast Alberta are extremely complex due to various depositional, salt dissolution and erosional events. The shales interbedded with sandstones, red beds and evaporitic units of the Lower Elk Point Subgroup (Lower Devonian) overlying the impervious crystalline Precambrian basement from a dominantly aquiclude system at the base of the succession. The overlying carbonates of the Winnipegosis aquifer are separated from the mainly carbonate Beaverhill Lake aquifer system by the halite and shale of the Prairie-Watt Mountain aquiclude system. The argillaceous Ireton aquitard separates the Beaverhill Lake and Grosmont-Wabamun aquifer systems. All the Devonian strata have been eroded and subcrop at the sub-Cretaceous unconformity. They are overlain by the succession of the McMurray, Clearwater and Grand Rapids formations of the Lower Cretaceous Mannville Group. These are defined as weak aquifer-aquitards because of a complex combination of interbedded sands, shales and oil sands. The Colorado aquitard system (mainly shales with a few sandy units) lies at the top of the hydrostratigraphic succession. The hydrogeological characterization (porosity and permeability, formation pressure, and chemistry of formation waters) of the hydrostratigraphic units identified in this progress report will form the subject of the next research stage.

Regional-scale subsurface hydrogeology in northeast Alberta


Year: 1993

Abstract:
The hydrogeological regime of formation waters in the Phanerozoic sedimentary succession was determined for a region defined as Tp 70-103 W4 Mer (55-58 degrees;N latitude and 110-114 degrees;W longitude) in northeast Alberta, covering most of the Athabasca Oil Sand Deposit. The study was based on information from 12,479 wells, 3187 analyses of formation water, 2531 drillstem tests and 452,030 core analyses. Data management and processing were carried out using the INGRES Data Base Management System and specially designed software developed at the Alberta Geological Survey. The regional geology was synthesized in terms of definable stratigraphic successions, and 26 individual units were characterized by structure top and isopach maps. The hydrostratigraphy was developed through several iterations starting from the stratigraphy and lithology of the strata. Complex groups of aquifers and/or aquitards exhibiting generally common overall characteristics were grouped into hydrostratigraphic systems. Thirteen hydrostratigraphic units were identified in the Phanerozoic succession. The hydrogeological regime in aquifers was described using isopach, salinity distributions and freshwater hydraulic-head distributions. Cross-formational flow was evaluated using plots of pressure variation with depth in selected wells. Because the study area is situated at the feather edge of the Alberta Basin, topography and physiographic features exert a strong influence on the flow regime within most aquifers. In the most general sense, fluid flow is to the northeast toward the edge of the basin. Areas of high topography, such as the Birch and Pelican mountains, act as local recharge areas, introducing fresh meteoric water to aquifers unprotected by significant confining strata. The valleys of the Athabasca River system represent discharge areas for aquifers at outcrop or subcropping near them. The salinity of formation waters generally increases with depth. This is the result of a combination of factors like temperature, hence solubility increase with depth, dissolution of deep Devonian evaporitic beds, and dilution near the surface by meteoric water introduced by local flow systems. In terms of flow regime and overall characteristics, the hydrostratigraphic units can be grouped into pre-Prairie Formation aquifers, Beaverhill Lake-Cooking Lake aquifer system, Grosmont-to-Wabamun aquifers, and Cretaceous aquifers. The aquifers below the Prairie evaporite exhibit regional flow-regime characteristics. Overall high formation water salinity is associated with the proximity of Elk Point Group evaporites. The Beaverhill Lake-Cooking Lake aquifer system has hydrogeological characteristics consistent with an intermediate-to-local flow regime. Within subcrop and outcrop areas, local physiographic influences are superimposed over a regional northeastward flow trend. The Grosmont aquifer and Winterburn-Wabamun aquifer system may act locally as a 'drain' for aquifers in hydraulic continuity above and below. The flow of formation waters is generally to the northwest, towards discharge at outcrop along the Peace River. The Cretaceous aquifers are characterized by low salinity and local flow regime.The synthesis of this vast amount of information on the hydrogeological regime of formation waters in northeast Alberta was carried out under a jointly funded research project by the Alberta Research Council and Environment Canada.

Risking rupture: Integral accidents and in/security in Canada's bitumen sands


Author(s): Greaves, W.

Year: 2013

Abstract:
The expansion of unconventional hydrocarbon development in Western Canada is one of the most contentious issues in contemporary Canadian politics. Although widely studied, little attention has been paid to the framing of Alberta's bitumen sands within distinct and incompatible discourses of energy and environmental security. This essay examines these discourses using the tools of securitization analysis, asking the basic questions of what each presents as needing to be secured, from what, and by what means. Presented with two sets of socially constructed in/ security claims related to the bitumen sands and proposed pipeline expansion, the author suggests the social theory of Paul Virilio provides a useful intervention into securitization analysis that allows the material implications of these discourses to be clarified and assessed. Drawing upon Virilio's critical account of technological progress and his theory of accidents, this essay proposes that conventional accounts of "energy security" in the bitumen sands cannot result in meaningful conditions of security because they remain premised upon continued and expanded hydrocarbon consumption in an era of anthropogenic climate change.

Sensitivity to acidification of forest soils in two watersheds with contrasting hydrological regimes in the oil sands region of Alberta


Year: 2007

Abstract:
Input of large amounts of N and S compounds into forest ecosystems through atmospheric deposition is a significant risk for soil acidification in the oil sands region of Alberta. We evaluated the sensitivity of forest soils to acidification in two watersheds (Lake 287 and Lake 185) with contrasting hydrological regimes as a part of a larger project assessing the role of N and S cycling in soil acidification in forest ecosystems. Fifty six forest soil samples were collected from the two watersheds by horizon from 10 monitoring plots dominated by either jack pine (Pinus banksiana) or aspen (Populus tremuloides). Soils in the two watersheds were extremely to moderately acidic with pH (CaCl2) ranging from 2.83 to 4.91. Soil acid-base chemistry variables such as pH, base saturation, Al saturation, and acid-buffering capacity measured using the acetic acid equilibrium procedure indicated that soils in Lake 287 were more acidified than those in Lake 185. Acid-buffering capacity decreased in the order of forest floor > subsurface mineral soil > surface mineral soil. The most dramatic differences in percent Ca and Al saturations between the two watersheds were found in the surface mineral soil horizon. Percent Ca and Al saturation in the surface mineral soil in Lake 287 were 15% and 70%, respectively; the percent Ca saturation value fell within a critical range proposed in the literature that indicates soil acidification. Our results suggest that the soils in the two watersheds have low acid buffering capacity and would be sensitive to increased acidic deposition in the region.

Stratigraphy of the Athabasca group and alteration surrounding the Maybelle River uranium trend in Alberta


Author(s): Kupsch, B. G.

Year: 2003

Abstract:
A detailed study of 16 drill cores surrounding the uranium zone in the Maybelle River area, in the southwestern part of the Proterozoic Athabasca Basin in Alberta, was undertaken to better define Athabasca Group sedimentology, stratigraphy and the alteration surrounding the deposit. The Athabasca Group sandstones constitute three third-order sequences: the Fair Point sequence (composed of the upper Fair Point Formation), the Manitou Falls sequence (composed of Manitou Falls c and d members) and the base of the Lazenby Lake-Wolverine Point sequence (composed of the Lazenby Lake Formation). The unconformity-type uranium-polymetallic mineral prospect is located at the base of the Fair Point Formation just above the unconformity and intersecting a graphitic mylonitic fault zone. Alteration features surrounding the uranium zone are similar in characteristic to those associated with deposits in Saskatchewan that have similar host rock alteration and metallogenic signatures. Petrochemical studies on drill core document a polymetallic assemblage of uranium, arsenic, nickel, boron, phosphorus, molybdenum and cobalt, in decreasing order of abundance.

The Lesser Slave Lake dune ridge barrier complex, north central Alberta: Depositional processes, paleogeography, and paleoclimate


Author(s): Clack, A. G.

Year: 1998

Abstract:
Barriers with dune ridges are one of the few remaining unstudied deposits within lacustrine coastal depositional systems. The Lesser Slave Lake barrier complex, located in north central Alberta, is composed of one spit and four barriers. West-to-northwesterly winds blow along 90 km of fetch moving sediments by longshore transport to the eastern shore of the lake where the barrier complex is located. Ground penetrating radar was used to infer internal architecture of the barriers and deduce paleoprogradational processes and direction of deposition. Vibracoring was used to measure lake level and stratigraphy for each of the dune ridges on top of the barrier, which in turn, was used to understand shore processes that formed the barrier and infer paleoclimate. Results show the eastern-most dune ridges for each barrier have forests dipping to the south, which implies the barriers initially formed as recurved spits towards the south. Lake levels measured from the base of the foreshore deposit within vibracores show there has been climatic change occurring during the past 6,665 years. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

The Paleoindian Component at Charlie Lake Cave (HbRf 39), British Columbia


Year: 1988

Abstract:
Charlie Lake Cave (HbRf 39) is a stratified site in northeastern British Columbia, Canada, containing a fluted-point component at the base of the excavated deposits. The small artifact assemblage includes a fluted point, stone bead, core tool, and retouched flake. A diverse associated fauna includes fish, birds, and mammals, indicating a more open environment than exists today. Radiocarbon dates suggest that the artifact assemblage was deposited about 10,500 years ago.

Traditional land use and occupancy study: Anzac, Gregoire Lake Reserve, and Fort McMurray; Janvier and Chipewyan Prairie; and Conklin Settlement: Final Report. Volume 1


Year: 1993

Abstract:
The Traditional Land Use and Occupancy Study (TLUOS) grew out of the Parallel Aboriginal Process to Participate in Alberta Pacific's Forest Management Task Force, which was signed by senior representatives of the Athabasca Native Development Corporation (ANDC), Alberta Pacific Industries Inc. (AlPac), and the Alberta Department of Environmental Protection. The Aboriginal forum process detailed in the above document commits to: assessment of previous and current levels and extent of utilization of wildlife by Aboriginal people in the target region of the FMA land base; and assessment and discussion of traditional aboriginal land use in each compartment so that this information may be considered in the Detailed Forest Management Plan and during the Public Involvement Action Plan. Timber harvest plans will be reviewed under the Parallel Aboriginal Process prior to their approval. This report is to be used in conjunction with "Mapping How We Use Our Land: Using Participatory Action Research"

Walleye and goldeye fisheries investigations in the Peace-Athabasca Delta - 1975


Year: 1976

Abstract:
The following report presents the results of- investigations on walleye and goldeye in the Peace-Athabasca Delta in 1975. The report is divided into four main sections that concern the following topics: (1) walleye in the Richardson Lake – Lake Athabasca system; (2) goldeye in the Lake Claire – Mamawi Lake system; (3) field observations of the completed Little Rapids weir on Riviere des Rochers; (4) assessment of field trials of the feasibility of marking fish with acrylic dye. Spawning success, movement, distribution, age structure, and several other biological characteristics of walleye and goldeye in the Peace-Athabasca Delta are discussed. The results of fisheries investigations in 1975 were generally incomplete because of the late initiation (mid-July) of the field work, and must therefore be interpreted carefully. BACKGROUND AND PERSPECTIVE The study on walleye and goldeye in the Peace-Athabasca Delta was sponsored by the Aquatic Fauna Technical Research Committee of AOSERP, in cooperation with the Peace Athabasca Delta Monitoring Group. This group is a multidisciplinary committee composed of representatives from governments of Alberta. Saskatchewan and Canada, and charged with the responsibility of monitoring the effects of remedial measures taken to restore water levels in the delta region. AOSERP funded the investigation in order to gain insight into baseline conditions with respect to walleye and goldeye in the Peace-Athabasca Delta. Walleye Investigations The primary objectives of this study were to delimit fry production in Richardson Lake during 1975 and to obtain the current age structure of the Lake Athabasca walleye population. A secondary objective was to obtain length-weight, age-length relationships and to determine sex ratios for the Lake Athabasca walleye. Studies on walleye fry numbers in the Delta region, surveys of some Saskatchewan streams along the south shore of Lake Athabasca and studies on life history and population dynamics of walleye in the delta have provided evidence that Richardson Lake is a major spawning ground for walleye arid that spawning in Richardson Lake provides most of the annual recruitment to the Lake Athabasca walleye population. Although all areas in the delta have not been surveyed, no other region in the delta has been identified as a major walleye spawning area. Much of Richardson Lake, and its outlet stream, Jackfish Creek, freeze to the bottom during winter. Walleye migrate from Lake Athabasca to the Athabasca River by Big Point Channel during March. Due to ice thickness and the lack of flowing water, walleye cannot enter Richardson Lake until flood waters from the Athabasca River flow into Richardson Lake via Jackfish Creek. These flood waters normally lift the ice in late April, or soon thereafter, and the spawning migration proceeds into Richardson Lake. It is possible that unusually low waters in the spring could cause conditions which would prevent or delay walleye from spawning in Richardson Lake. In view of the present situation, it appears that Richardson Lake is critical to the recruitment of walleye in Lake Athabasca and that the spawning success of this species could be seriously disrupted by unusually low water, during the spring. Goldeye Investigations The major objectives of this study were to determine the age structure of the goldeye population in the Claire-Mamawi Lakes system; and to estimate spawning success of goldeye in the system. A secondary objective was to collect information concerning seasonal movements of goldeye. Results from past studies indicate that goldeye migrate into waters of the Peace-Athabasca Delta in the spring to spawn and move back into the Peace River during summer and autumn. These studies suggest that the Chenal des Quatre Fourches is a major spring migration route for adult and juvenile goldeye as well as a major summer and autumn migration route for goldeye adults, juveniles and fry. Concern has arisen that water level control structures may block) this migration route. It was not possible to absolutely assess the spawning success of goldeye in 1975 because the number of spawners was unknown. In relative terms spawning in 1975 appeared to be less successful than in previous years. Little Rapids Weir On the basis of data gathered during ground and aerial inspections, several sites close to and on both sides of the weir and fishway have been identified as being suitable for setting gillnets. Nets cannot be set close to the weir or fishway due to strong turbulence. The dam constructed across the Flett bypass channel of Riviere des Rochers was also inspected. Water in this channel can flow through the rockfill dam, but fish cannot pass through this structure. Acrylic Dye Marking of Fish A total of 38 walleye were marked during September 1975, in Lake Athabasca near Fort Chipewyan. Most walleye were injected in the operculum (gill cover) and several were injected in the lower jaw. Injection was accomplished more easily in the operculum than in the lower jaw but because pigmentation in the lower jaw is lighter, the dye was more visible. During October 1975, 47 goldeye were marked above the weir at Little Rapids. They were injected at the origin of the anal fin. Between 30 and 40 northern pike and lake whitefish respectively were also marked. The most suitable injection site of a northern pike was at the base of either pelvic fin. Blue dye was easily visible anywhere on the ventral surface of lake whitefish, but was most visible at the base of the adipose fin. ASSESSMENT In depth investigations of spawning success, movement, distribution, age structure and other biological characteristics of walleye and goldeye populations in Peace-Athabasca Delta were conducted for the Aquatic Fauna Technical Research Committee of AOSERP. The study provides baseline information on walleye and goldeye populations with respect to the “before conditions” faced by the Athabasca Delta fisheries in view of the prospect of present and increased levels of oil sands development. This “before condition” is in the context of the “after condition” produced by remedial measures implemented after the Peace-Athabasca Delta Project Investigations into the effects of the Bennett Dam constructed on the Peace River in 1968. The report has been reviewed extensively by Research Secretariat of Alberta Environment and the Aquatic Fauna Research Committee and has been approved for publication. The content of this report does not necessarily reflect the views of Alberta Environment, Environment Canada or the Oil Sands Environmental Study Group. The mention of trade names for commercial products does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation for use. The Aquatic Fauna Committee acknowledges the importance of this report with respect to future fisheries studies in the Peace-Athabasca Delta. It will serve as the basis for studies into the effects of other manmade, structures in, the Athabasca River basin. Such basic investigations: are important since the Peace-Athabasca Delta is one of the most productive regions in Alberta. It is recognized by the Oil Sands Environmental Study Group that although innovative research methodology was not employed in the study, changes in methodology are difficult to accommodate during or after completion of a field project. The OSESG does acknowledge that the research objectives have been met and compliments the researchers on addressing themselves directly to the research subjects. The Aquatic Fauna Technical Research Committee of the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program accepts \"Walleye and Goldeye Investigations in the Peace-Athabasca Delta - 1975\" as an important and valid research document, and thanks the researchers for their scientific contributions.

Zooplankton communities are good indicators of potential impacts of Athabasca oil sands operations on downwind boreal lakes


Year: 2014

Abstract:
We used zooplankton communities as indicators to evaluate the potential influence of acidifying–eutrophying emissions from the Athabasca oil sands region (AOSR) on 244 downwind lakes in northwest Saskatchewan. The impacts of regional environmental change on zooplankton communities are determined by responses of resident species to altered local environmental conditions as well as changes in composition due to dispersal processes. To test and quantify the relative importance of these individual processes, we conducted ordination analyses, spatial modeling, and variation partitioning. Local environmental factors were the dominant determinants of community structure, including two major environmental gradients susceptible to atmospheric emissions (i.e., acid–base status and productivity). Spatial structuring of these factors induced similar spatial structures in zooplankton distribution across the region. However, disentangling any impacts of the AOSR on these environment–spatial–species relationships from the underlying natural variability was precluded by unavailability of baseline data. Nevertheless, as our findings indicate that dispersal of zooplankton was not strongly limiting across this broad geographic region, zooplankton indicators can be crucial to detect future environmental changes in lakes across northwest Saskatchewan.