1030 kn ECCCmodelAn example of ECCC's Lake Model showing the depth-averaged temperature and water circulations across Lake of the Woods, from July 5, 2017.This week, I’m circling back to Canada’s science in the watershed – so far, I’ve touched on Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) satellite and baseline monitoring initiatives. Today, the focus is on ‘modelling’ – essentially, trying to predict water quality conditions in the basin under various scenarios. Thanks goes out to one of the lead scientists on this, Reza Valipour, who has provided this update.

This project aims to develop an integrated model for U.S. and Canadian waters that flow into Lake of the Woods that can predict water movements and water quality. The model will build a connection between the land and water to better understand the cause and effect of algal blooms. It will determine the effectiveness of risk reduction strategies on water quality in Lake of the Woods and help predict the lake’s response to climate change.

As we are all well aware, algal blooms can have adverse impacts on the water quality of Lake of the Woods and other lakes and rivers in our basin. Contributing factors causing blooms include excessive nutrients (mainly total Phosphorus and Nitrogen), changes in climate and riverine inflows to the lake.  In order to focus on the key drivers as well as to be able to propose management solutions, ECCC’s integrated model was developed – it allows them to identify the contribution of individual sources such as different types of land use (forest, wetland, agriculture, urban), septic systems and point sources (municipal/industrial) that make up the total nutrients discharging to Lake of the Woods. The model will also allow ECCC to predict the extent and duration of algal blooms.

To date, ECCC has found that the Rainy River is the main source of nutrients to Lake of the Woods and, along with the nutrients coming in from smaller tributaries, are re-distributed across the lake through mixing between bays and basins, depending on the wind patterns and riverine discharges. Work is underway to develop the impacts of changes in nutrient inputs and climate on the lake ecosystem in different spatial segments of the Lake of the Woods. This information will contribute to the development of nutrient management options for the lake.

Key partners working with ECCC include Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the International Joint Commission, the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.

This series is provided as part of the International Watershed Coordination Program of the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation (www.lowwsf.com)

Kelli Saunders, M.Sc., is the International Watershed Coordinator with the Lake of the Woods Water Sustainability Foundation.