Protecting our waters for life
Canada is blessed with vast expanses of water. And with our famous love for the outdoors, we take every opportunity to swim, fish and sail in our lakes, streams and oceans. However, with raising levels of pollution, these activities are threatened.
Intensifying urban, agricultural and industrial development in coastal areas has led to poor coastal water quality in many parts of the country. This is illustrated by the massive algal blooms in Lake Erie and Lake Winnipeg each summer as well as around Prince Edward Island, and groundwater that is contaminated with a brew of toxic chemicals along the coastlines of thousands of industrial sites.
Current strategies for improving coastal water quality focus on reducing pollution sources, such as wastewater treatment plants. However, diffuse sources—including agriculture and groundwater—are also problematic and need to be addressed.
Clare Robinson, Canada Research Chair in Water Quality, is developing knowledge and assessment tools that can be used to manage and mitigate pollution sources that are contaminating coastal waters. Her research focuses specifically on understanding how the interactions between groundwater systems and coastal waters impact pollution levels, and how this can be managed better.
Robinson will combine innovative field and laboratory investigations with computer modeling to produce novel data-sets and insights that are needed to tackle major contamination challenges, including the contribution of groundwater discharge to degrading coastal water quality.
Through her research, Robinson will provide answers and assessment tools needed to support management decisions aimed at restoring and protecting coastal waters from further damage as coastal development intensifies and the climate changes.