Capital Region Cumulative Effects Management

Implementing Cumulative Effects Management within the Industrial Heartland and Capital Region

The foundation for cumulative effects management in the Capital Region is built on the following environmental frameworks which

  • Outline specific environmental outcomes for the region
  • Provide strategies and targets for managing growth pressures

As the frameworks are implemented, enhancements are made to the baseline data, science, and tools required to support decision-making and future planning:

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Aquatic Plants, Sediments and Algae Studies on the North Saskatchewan River

In the North Saskatchewan River, the abundance, distribution and the factors that control macrophytes (i.e. aquatic plants) are poorly understood. This report provides an overview of three field studies analyzing macrophyte abundance, distribution and environmental factors that influence macrophyte growth. The purpose of this report is to gain information and better understand these factors that control macrophytes in the North Saskatchewan River.

The North Saskatchewan River (NSR) recieves inputs of sediments and associated contaminants from multiple sources.The chemical, physical and biological characteristics of these sediments and associated contaminants have not been fully studied and additional information is required to assess their place of origin, short term and long term storage and transport in the NSR. In order to do this, a literature review was coducted to compare rivers similar to the NSR to help bridge some of the data gaps present.

This study provides a comprehensive snap-shot of existing conditions, and a database against which future monitoring studies can judge temporal variations in the quality of the river. Snapshots have inherent limitations in the sense that they depict conditions for one moment in time. Some of the information resented in this report needs to be validated with further sampling (e.g. detection of some trace organics such as the organochlorine pesticides at several sites), or more intensified sampling (e.g. evaluate the biological responses to individual point sources, refine the understanding of temporal variability in effluent mixing patterns and biological responses). The source, be it natural or man-made, of some contaminants such as PAHs needs to be better understood.

Capital Region Air Quality Management Framework

The Capital Region Air Quality Management Framework and accompanying factsheet, Capital Region - Managing Air Quality, present a collaborative, shared vision for managing ambient air quality in the Capital Region. The Technical Supporting Document reports on the scientific and technical work conducted during the development of the Framework.

The Capital Region Implementation Progress Report is a deliverable under the Capital Region Air Quality Management Framework and the Fine Particulate Matter Response. The report provides an update on the efforts to date by Alberta Environment and Parks and stakeholders in the Capital Region on addressing air quality concerns and identifies upcoming implementation priorities. The report is to be released annually.

The Ambient Air Quality Assessment Summary Reports assign an ambient air quality level to each monitoring station in the Capital Region for the framework's four contaminants of concern (nitrogen, dioxide, sulphur dioxide, fine particulate matter and ozone). The Backgrounder is to provide the context for each annual Assessment Summary Reports. This document contains information about the air monitoring stations in this region, descriptions of the contaminants of concern and explains the triggers and levels defined in the framework.

The Capital Region Fine Particulate Matter Response is the mandatory action plan that was developed to address the fine particulate matter issue in the Capital Region as a result of the 2011 and 2012 Ambient Air Quality Assessment Summary Report. The Response was developed collaboratively between municipalities, industry, non-governmental organizations, airsheds, and the federal and provincial governments. The goal is the reduce ambient fine particulate matter concentration and remain below Level 4 at all monitoring stations within the Capital Region through three key objectives focussing on action, investigation, and engagement.

Development of The Response focused on gathering baseline information, improving scientific understanding, learning from other jurisdictions, and identifying initiatives that are proposed, already committed or underway that can lead to near and future management of fine particulate matter. Findings from the Capital Region Fine Particulate Matter Science Report informed The Response and associated actions. In addition, The Response sets up the process to track and monitor actions and to identify, and implement new actions as required in each phase to ensure ambient levels of fine particulate matter are below and remain below the national standard.

A document outlining Education and Outreach Opportunities was developed with stakeholders from both Capital Region and Red Deer to support implementation of Objective 3: Engagement. Although focused on fine particulate matter, the document can be used to inform general air quality literacy and is future focused to guide coordination, priority, and delivery of outreach activities.

Accompanying factsheets provide an overview of The Response; explain particulate matter in the Capital Region, and the process used to develop the Response.

The study aimed to develop a modelling database for the Capital Region that would reproduce the observed elevated fine particulate matter concentrations so that it could be used as a reliable tool for analyzing source contributions and for evaluating the effects of alternative emission control strategies. The model was unsuccessful at reproducing observed fine particulate matter concentrations; however, several improvements were made to inform and enable the development of the next phase of modelling.

As a follow up study to the Capital Region Particulate Matter Air Modelling Assessment study led by ENVIRON (Phase I), this modelling work is based largely on the Phase I modelling database and the recommendations in the final report. Sensitivity tests were performed to determine the optimal modelling configuration by evaluating the results against measurement data, revisiting meteorology and emissions modeling inputs. Several updates were identified and the CMAQ model was applied to determine contributing factors of high PM concentrations in the Capital Region.

As part of the Capital Region Air Quality Management Framework implementation, the department contracted an air monitoring network assessment; Capital Region Network Assessment report.

The report consolidated the network assessments conducted to date, with some supplementary analyses, to provide an assessment of ambient air quality monitoring in the region as a whole.

The air monitoring network assessment considers the evolvement of monitoring from solely compliance for regulatory monitoring requirements to a regional network for cumulative effects management.

World-class elemental sulphur management in the Industrial Heartland that sustainably supports the environment, and social and economic aspects of development.

In addition to the frameworks listed above, groundwater and wetlands work was completed:

  • Groundwater quality investigation in the Industrial Heartland
  • Wetland inventory assessment to enable better planning decisions

Effluent Characterization Program

Effluent characterization was identified as a knowledge gap during the development of Maximum Allowable Loads for the Industrial Heartland. The Effluent Characterization Program has been designed to fill this gap by requiring seasonal sampling of effluent for all point source emitters in this region for a standardized set of parameters and substances using consistent sampling and analytical testing methods. The results from this program will also be used to further develop Maximum Allowable Loads and to support several other water quality management tools used by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) to manage water quality in the North Saskatchewan River.

Miscellaneous Water Studies in the North Saskatchewan River Watershed

The impacts of the CN Rail oil spill and subsequent treatment regimes on the vegetation forming the lacustrine marshes of Wabamun Lake had not been assessed since August of 2007. In order to follow up, an assessment of the ecosystem health of previously treated, contaminated, and unaffected lacustrine marshes of Wabamun Lake was completed to provide a long-term prognosis for the viability of these marshes.

Multi-stakeholder Forums

Our Region Our Future

Effective regional multi-stakeholder forums were established to develop the frameworks, and these forums have adapted to continue to advise government as the frameworks are implemented.

The stakeholders came together to develop a communication website called Our Region Our Future. The website brought together industry, municipalities, environmental non-government organizations and government to collaborate on regional solutions for environmental protection.

Water Management Framework for the Industrial Heartland and Capital Region

The Water Management Framework for the Industrial Heartland and Capital Region is a world-class integrated water management system within the North Saskatchewan River to sustainably support the environment, and social and economic development.

After five years of implementation during changing economic conditions, the Water Management Framework Multi-stakeholder steering committee decided the time was right to consolidate learning and plan the next steps for implementation.

The document entitled: Five Years of Implementation and accompanying fact sheet describes the implementation work completed to date and reaffirms stakeholder commitment to future work applying the cumulative effects approach to manage water quality and quantity in the Devon to Pakan reach of the North Saskatchewan River.

The Water Management Framework for the Industrial Heartland and Capital Region was released in 2007. Five years later, the Framework was reviewed and renewed to consolidate learning and re-confirm priorities and to provide an overview of the work done between 2007 and 2012. Since 2012, further work has been done that has made advancements on the recommendations in that document. This report documents the last eight years of implementation, describing those accomplishments and documenting the strategic direction of implementation.

Water Modelling Studies on the North Saskatchewan River

This report documents the configuration, calibration and validation of the river water quality model for the mainstem of the North Saskatchewan River from Devon to the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. The model represents hydrodynamics, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, organic carbon, algal interactions and other parameters influences by tributaries, municipal wastewater treatment plants, industrial facilities, combined with sewer overflows and storm water. The model calibration period was from January 2000 through March 2008.

This report presents the results of a field campaign to study the physical mixing of the ambient river water with the effluent from two wastewater treatment plants and an industrial facility on the North Saskatchewan River. The main objectives of this study were to determine the downstream distance required to achieve full mixing of the effluent and to measure spatially distributed tracer concentration and water velocity in the mixing zone such that dispersion patterns could be determined.

This application of a dynamic water quality model represents the North Saskatchewan River (NSR) reach, and how it can potentially be impacted by activities in the Capital Region and Industrial Heartland (IH). AEP has developed a hydrodynamic and water quality model, based on the Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code (EFDC) platform for the NSR system. The use of this model application evaluates contaminant loadings, and their effect on river water quality under various management and engineering options in the IH area. Additionally, the dynamic water quality model is the basis for a larger integrated model of the NSR Basin to support broader-scale watershed and regional planning.

This report details the configuration and calibration of the NSR EFDC model. This model provides a sound basis for conducting scenario simulations. Boundary conditions can be readily changed to evaluate effects on conditions throughout the system. The model can be further improved through refinement of tributary boundary conditions, perhaps through watershed model simulation.

This report details the enhancements to a Loading Simulation Program in C++ (LSPC platform) watershed model for the NSR. The modelling objectives includes incorporating non-contributing areas into the model, configuring the model for sediment loading and transport, and delivering a fully functional model that is ready for performing scenario analysis.

Water Quality Studies on the North Saskatchewan River

These reports provide an overview of technical studies tracing the cumulative effects of natural and man-made stressors on a portion of Alberta’s North Saskatchewan River, located between the Devon and Pakan long-term river network (LTRN) monitoring stations.

An accompanying factsheet, North Saskatchewan River Quality for the Industrial Heartland and Capital Region, summarizes the influences and management models that can impact the water quality of the North Saskatchewan River in the reach of the Industrial Heartland Capital Region.

This report outlines water quality trends in the North Saskatchewan River in Alberta’s Capital Region, based upon analysis of data gathered from 4 monitoring sites located at:

  • Devon, near Edmonton
  • Pakan, near Edmonton
  • Upstream of Rocky Mountain House
  • Highway 17 near the Alberta-Saskatchewan border

This factsheet summarizes Project 2, a two-tiered engineering study to evaluate 5 alternative scenarios for wastewater treatment and water supply management for all municipal and industrial entities in the Industrial Heartland and Capital Region.

To enable the goal of maintaining or improving water quality in the North Saskatchewan River (NSR), water quality objectives (WQOs) have been established for the Industrial Heartland reach, inclusive of the river mainstem from Devon downstream to Pakan. The WQOs apply specifically to the long-term river network (LTRN) monitoring sites at Devon and Pakan, and are based on ambient in-stream concentrations, except where ambient concentrations exceed the most stringent federal/provincial water quality guidelines. WQOs are the basis for calculating maximum allowable loads (MALs) and provide a measure against which long-term changes can be assessed.


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Updated: Sep 24, 2018