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Ontario’s Experimental Lakes Area Receives Reprieve



City of Sudbury Needs Better Methods of Establishing Health of Lakes

Agreement Keeps Ontario Lake Research Alive

Agreement Keeps Ontario Lake Research Alive (CP)

The Experimental Lakes Area located in northwestern Ontario, comprised of 58 lakes that have been used over the past 40-plus years for environmental studies, have received a temporary reprieve after it was initially shuttered by the federal government in a cost-saving effort. Although environmentalists are applauding the fact that the ELA has been saved, they are questioning just how long it can realistically survive, given the fact that the fresh-water research station that has been recognized around the world now has just one staff member left, the division manager.

University of Alberta ecologist Diane Orihel, who has been one of the most vocal leaders in the ongoing movement to save the Experimental Lakes Area, said that a lot of effort and funding are needed to help the ELA get back into full operation. Scientists began studying the effects of certain toxins on the environment here back in 1968. The work and research studies being done in the waters of its 58 lakes went pretty much unnoticed and unheralded until the spring of 2012. That was when government officials in Ottawa announced that the ELA would no longer be under the supervision of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and that it was permanently closing down the project to save an estimated $2 million in costs.

When environmentalists and scientists alike raised a ruckus about the closure of the ELA, the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Winnipeg came forward to serve as its operator on a temporary basis to prevent its immediate closure. Now, federal officials have transferred the operation of ELA back to the government of Ontario. The problem remains, however, of how to rebuild staffing at the facility, since all but one of the original technicians and researchers have either retired or accepted other positions.


Tomas Carbry possesses a decade of journalism experience and consistently upholds rigorous standards. His focus areas include technology and global issues.