Closed waters: Managing toxins in Alberta’s surface waters will be far from simple
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August 21st, 2012
Environmental Law Centre
Managing toxins in Alberta’s surface waters will be far from simple
A recent study about high microcystin concentrations in lakes across the country hit the media recently. The study found that lakes across Canada and many in Alberta had high levels of the liver toxin often exceeding guidelines for potable use and recreational water quality. Microcystin is created by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) which are often found in surface waters rich in nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus. (See a map of eutrophic or hypereutrophic lakes in Alberta).
The study found that microcystin levels occurred where there was low ratios of nitrogen to phosphorus (N:P) and decreased as the ratio increased; however, the causal connection between the low ratio and creation of microcystin has not been established. How are we to respond at a policy or regulatory level to such a finding?
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