Nature Canada

Federal Reports Show Dirty Lakes Are Uncharted Territory

Two government documents have recently come to light showing that the federal government is well aware of harmful pollution in Canada’s lakes and rivers. However, these same reports also reveal that the problem is not well understood.

From The Globe & Mail article:

Pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, pesticides and run-off from mining sites also end up in lakes and rivers, bringing with them a slew of health and environmental risks.

“When groundwater contamination occurs it has the potential to have serious, negative human health, environmental and economic impacts,” the report says.

Meanwhile, the question of what happens when all those contaminants mix together confounded the government officials.

“One outstanding issue the working group considered is that of cumulative effects,” the report says.

“This refers to the impacts that multiple contaminants have on aquatic ecosystems when they interact. Concerns apply to the majority of contaminants, and the issue is both not well understood and exceedingly complex.”

Abundant freshwater is one of Canada’s most precious resources. If we know that our lakes and rivers are already in danger, why would we want to do even more harm to them?

That’s what might happen due to a loophole in the Fisheries Act that allows the government to exclude some lakes from protections and instead let mining companies use those lakes as dumps for toxic mining waste. Fish Lake in B.C. was recently spared from this fate, but legal proceedings about Sandy Pond in Newfoundland continue and a handful of other lakes have been targeted.

Canada needs to clean up our act and take care of our freshwater resources.


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