The use of environmental effects monitoring programs to drive integrated watershed management and assessment
Canada developed a mandatory, cyclical, adaptive, Environmental Effects Monitoring program for pulp and paper mills and metal mines in the early 1990s. The purpose of the regulatory program was to identify whether there were still environmental concerns when a facility was in compliance with its discharge regulations. After 30 years, deficiencies in cumulative effects assessment and fragmentation of monitoring efforts have stimulated the development of a regional monitoring framework that seeks to integrate the various types of existing monitoring programs into a single assessment framework. The framework has a series of tiers which represent different levels of monitoring intensity and focus, and triggers, which provide focus to move and optimize monitoring efforts according to needs and adjust the scope, intensity, and frequency of monitoring across tiers of effort. Triggers can be developed that utilize regular status monitoring (monitoring triggers), modelling efforts (forecast triggers), existing planning thresholds (management triggers), regulatory limits (compliance triggers) and facility engineering projections (performance triggers) to integrate monitoring efforts into a single database and decision framework. A well designed Environmental Effects Framework can provide the engine to drive the system. Coupling modelling and monitoring efforts in an iterative feedback loop can play several important roles in identifying and managing cumulative effects, including: developing forecasts to predict future ecological states (ie., projected impacts under future climate scenarios), developing forecast triggers to adjust monitoring efforts, and back-casting historical pre-development baselines when past data are absent or incomplete. The fragmented nature of watershed regulation and monitoring presents a plethora of challenges in implementing such a framework but the seminar will present some examples where we are starting to make headway.
Kelly Munkittrick is the CAIP Research Chair in Aquatic Ecosystem Health at the University of Calgary since 2019. From 2017-19, he was the Executive Director of Cold Regions and Water Initiatives at Wilfrid Laurier University, was Director, Environmental Monitoring and Risk Assessment at Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) from 2013-17 and held a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Ecosystem Health Assessment at the University of New Brunswick. He is a co-founder of the Canadian Rivers Institute, was Scientific Director of the Canadian Water Network, and has sat on expert panels and review Boards for the United Nations University, the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission Board, and the OCED.
Early in his career, he worked as a Research Scientist with Environment Canada (1996-2001) and with Fisheries and Oceans (1990-1996). While with the Federal government, Kelly was one of the developers of the Canadian Environmental Effects Monitoring (EEM) requirements for pulp and paper mills, and metal mines, and was a member of the EEM National Science Team until 2012. His research interests are related to improving the sensitivity of environmental monitoring programs, improving their utility in regional management frameworks, and increasing capacity for Indigenous community-based monitoring programs. He has designed monitoring programs in North and South America, and Asia, has taught environmental monitoring study design in more a dozen countries, and has worked with various governments to improve environmental assessment models. Dr. Munkittrick completed his PhD in 1988 in Aquatic Toxicology at the University of Waterloo, and received a M.Sc. in environmental physiology in 1983 and a B.Sc. in fish and wildlife biology in 1980, both from the University of Guelph.