2005 Winter and Spring Aquatic Studies in the Gwich'in Settlement Area
Principal Investigator: Povey, Andrew (93)
Licence Number: 13781
Organization: Mackenzie Project Environment Group
Licenced Year(s): 2005 2004 2003
Issued: Apr 12, 2005
Project Team: Gary Ash, Nancy Grainger, local assistant

Objective(s): The 2005 research has three main components, as follows. 1) Selected streams along the proposed pipeline corridor will be surveyed to assess overwintering conditions for fish and watercourse freezing conditions. 2) A fisheries spring survey will be conducted at watercourses that may be crossed by all-season roads to determine the use of watercourses by fish during the period of spring flow. 3) A late winter groundwater survey is required in various areas to assess the groundwater discharge conditions associated with areas that may be affected by borrow and infrastructure sites, and their associated access roads.

Project Description: The researchers did a number of baseline studies during 2001 through 2004 as part of the Mackenzie Gas Project. These studies are continuing in 2005. Local knowledge and technical/scientific research is being used to design plans, assess impacts, and develop environmental protection plans. The aquatics field crews will consist of two Mackenzie Project Environment Group researchers and a local assistant. Access to sites will primarily be by helicopter. ATV's and snowmobiles may also be used to access selected sampling locations; where these are needed, they will be hired locally. The field crews will be based in Inuvik. The researchers expect that any particular waterbody will be visited just once during the winter or spring aquatics studies, and most visits will be less than 12 hours. For streams with ice cover, holes will be augered through the ice to determine ice thickness and water depth below the ice. Under-ice water quality will be measured, including temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, and pH. Stream discharge will be measured and the presence or absence of bottom ice conditions will be noted. Limited fish sampling will be done in potential overwintering locations, such as deep pools, runs, or impoundments that were identified during the 2002, 2003 and 2004 detailed surveys. Under-ice fish sampling will be done to assess overwintering use by fish in streams with suitable habitat conditions. In streams with open water (likely indicators of groundwater input), other methods may also be used to assess winter fish use. Streams that will be crossed by proposed all-season roads will be surveyed in late May or June. The researchers will determine if spring-spawning species use those streams, especially during periods of flow. Fish sampling will be done to determine presence/absence of spawners and deposited eggs. Flow data and water quality information, such as temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity and pH will also be measured. For the groundwater surveys, the researchers wil look for icings at proposed borrow and construction locations. Results of the study will be provided to the communities.