Details of a new environmental monitoring system for the Alberta oilsands will be announced in Edmonton Friday by federal Environment Minister Peter Kent and his provincial counterpart, Diana McQueen.

The plan comes after panels appointed separately by the federal and provincial governments concluded that the existing, industry funded system was inadequate.

Last June, the Alberta Environmental Monitoring Panel, co-chaired by Howard Tennant, called for a scientifically rigorous, independent monitoring commission.

"It's important because we have to improve the image of what happens with our general oil and gas industry," Tennant said Thursday.

"You can't do proper regulation, you can't do proper enforcement and you can't do very much until you have the scientific data to back up your decisions."

Water monitoring in the oilsands was performed by the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP), which is funded by industry.

In 2010, the program was criticized by David Schindler, a world-renowned water biologist at the University of Alberta, after he published a study with his colleague Erin Kelly that linked toxins in the Athabasca River to oilsands mining.

RAMP officials had said that the toxins were caused by natural sources in the land.

But the findings in Schindler's report led him to conclude that the current monitoring system was defective and insufficient, and prompted the federal and Alberta governments to convene expert panels on the issue.