Globe and Mail reports, “The federal government is closing a research station scientists have used for decades to study how pollutants like acid rain and phosphates affect lakes. The Experimental Lakes Area is in Northwestern Ontario, about 250 kilometres east of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Since 1968, government and university scientists have used its 58 small lakes to test hypotheses about freshwater ecosystems. One experiment has been running for 40 years.
Employees were told Thursday, said Roberto Quinlan, a biologist at York University… David Schindler, a professor at the University of Alberta, said employees were told that the facility will be closed as of March, 2013, and that universities, not governments, should be doing this kind of science.”
As noted on the Experimental Lakes Area website, the purpose of the program is:
-To better understand global threats to the environment through knowledge gained from whole-ecosystem, experimental, scientific research
-To monitor and demonstrate the impacts of human activities on watersheds and lakes
-To develop appropriate environmental stewardship strategies for the preservation, restoration and enhancement of ecosystems
-To educate and promote environmental protection and conservation through an integrated approach to ecosystem stewardship
The news article notes, “The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada is criticizing the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for withdrawing funding from the Experimental Lake Areas program. ‘A region of remote lakes has been dedicated, since the late 1960s, to whole-lake ecosystem research. It has been the site of groundbreaking studies into the effects of pollutants, acid rain, freshwater aquaculture, and hydroelectric dams on freshwater ecosystems,’ the union said in a news release. …John Smol, a professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, said closing the facility is a ‘travesty, not just for Canada but for the rest of the world’. He said data from experiments carried out at the lakes ‘were critical in showing we can’t have phosphates in detergents and that acid rain causes marked ecosystem changes.’”