Assessment of the condition of freshwater streams in the South Nahanni watershed

Regions: Sahtu Settlement Area, Dehcho Region

Tags: physical sciences, mining impacts, water quality, aquatic invertebrates

Principal Investigator: Steedman, Audrey (1)
Licence Number: 15942
Organization: Parks Canada - Nahanni National Park Reserve
Licenced Year(s): 2016
Issued: Sep 29, 2016
Project Team: Douglas Tate (Ecologist, Nahanni National Park Reserve), Amy Tanner (Field technician, Naatsihchoh National Park Reserve), Ashley Okrainec (Field technician, Nahanni National Park Reserve)

Objective(s): To determine if macroinvertebrate community structure and composition is changing over time in freshwater streams in the South Nahanni watershed; and, to determine whether mining activities degrade the health of streams in the South Nahanni Watershed and define zones of degradation due to mining activities.

Project Description: The main objectives of this research project are to determine if macroinvertebrate community structure and composition is changing over time in freshwater streams in the South Nahanni watershed; and, to determine whether mining activities degrade the health of streams in the South Nahanni Watershed and define zones of degradation due to mining activities. These test sites are downstream of mines.

Survey and sampling methods will follow the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network field manual for wadeable streams (Environment Canada 2012, available online at http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2012/ec/En84-87-2012-eng.pdf).

This protocol involves recording a detailed description of the stream reach and habitat parameters, measuring water chemistry variables while on site, collecting water samples for laboratory analysis of water chemistry, and collection of a benthic macroinvertebrate sample using a kick-net method. The field data sheet that will be used is appended to the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) field manual.

Post field sampling, water samples will be analyzed by an environmental laboratory using standardized methods, and benthic macroinvertebrate samples will be processed and identified by a taxonomist following the CABIN Laboratory Methods: processing, taxonomy and quality control of benthic macroinvertebrate samples (Environment Canada 2014, available online at http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2015/ec/En84-86-2014-eng.pdf).

Data will be entered in the CABIN online database as part of the “National Parks - South Nahanni” study and analysed using standard CABIN analysis tools within the online system.

Possible opportunities for local involvement include the assistance of community members trained in the CABIN field protocol in future years of monitoring.

Results of the study will presented to Naha Dehe Consensus Team and Naatsihchoh Management Committee, the co-management groups of Nahanni and Naatsihchoh National Park Reserves respectively.

Plain language reports on the results of the study will be provided the co-management teams and local communities. Results of the study will be communicated to the public in the upcoming State of the Park Reports from Nahanni National Park Reserve (2019) and Naatsihchoh National Park Reserve (2020).

The fieldwork for this study will be conducted from September 29, 2016 to December 31, 2016.