Lab Canada

Grant supports water quality research

Edmonton, AB – Alberta Environment has awarded a $50,000 grant to University of Alberta professor, Dr David Schindler, and his team of researchers to study possible scientific methods to improve water quality in some Alberta lakes.

One of the key directions of the water strategy is to improve knowledge and research so that Albertans will have the information needed to achieve healthy watersheds. The team will examine the phenomenon of eutrophication – the greening or excessive plant growth in lakes as a result of high levels of nutrients such as phosphorus. The researchers will test ways of decreasing phosphorus arising from lake bottoms.

“We know that the most effective way to prevent eutrophication is by preventing nutrients from septic tanks, agriculture and other sources from reaching the lakes. But some Alberta lakes are already well along the path to eutrophication, with phosphorus recycled for many years from nutrient-saturated lake sediments,” says Dr Schindler. “We will explore some possible ways to reduce the recycling of phosphorus from sediments, speeding the recovery process. If our small-scale experiments succeed, we will evaluate the cost of using them at full lake scales.”

The researchers will look at how sulphur and iron interact to release phosphorus from bottom sediments and what might be done to reverse or slow that process.