Studying the water quality in the St. Lawrence River helps scientists learn about the health of its water and its important ecosystem. Dr. Caroline Anderson, limnologist, talks about her work and what the scientific community has found so far.
This research is an important part of the St. Lawrence Action Plan, a joint initiative between the governments of Canada and Quebec.
Learn more about the
St. Lawrence Action Plan: http://planstlaurent.qc.ca/en/home.html
Learn more about the state of the St. Lawrence: http://planstlaurent.qc.ca/en/state_monitoring/overview_of_the_state_of_the_st_lawrence.html
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CAROLINE ANDERSON, PhD (Analyst, Aquatic Environment, Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques du Québec, MELCC): The St. Lawrence River is a cornerstone of Quebec’s cultural and economic development. Not only is it a major transportation corridor, it is also a very popular destination for a variety of users, from fishers to swimmers.
THE ST. LAWRENCE ACTION PLAN
SCIENCE IN ACTION
My name is Caroline Anderson and I work with the Quebec Ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques. My role within the St. Lawrence Action Plan is to track two indicators. The first indicator monitors water masses in the St. Lawrence River using physicochemical and bacteriological parameters.
The second indicator is used to monitor potential swimming sites, based on bacteriological parameters only.
We assess the physicochemical and bacteriological quality of the river by measuring five parameters: phosphorus, nitrites and nitrates, ammonia nitrogen, faecal coliforms and chlorophyll a.
To obtain the necessary data, departmental technicians or volunteer observers are sent out to collect water samples. The samples are then sent to our labs to calculate the concentrations for each of the parameters.
The last step in the process involves interpreting the data, which helps us determine the quality of the sites monitored.
Although phosphorus concentrations have improved over the last 20 years, faecal coliform concentrations have not, especially downstream of Greater Montreal. Until we see improvements in these concentrations, the status of this indicator will not change.
Since the 2014 Overview, the state of the St. Lawrence River has improved slightly. Despite the work that still remains to be done and the emerging issues we need to tackle, we’re on the right track.
Monitoring of the St. Lawrence will allow us to provide a portrait of the physicochemical and biological components that are affected by human activities and the associated impacts on the different uses of the river.
Ultimately, this monitoring will help us make better decisions, and to ensure the sustainable development of this beautiful river that is right in our own backyard.