Bay of Fundy surveyed for chemical runoff

A group of scientists is sampling water from around the Bay of Fundy to track chemical run-off from farms and sewage in an effort to inform future land-use decision making.

Group maps entire bay for human-caused chemical runoff to better inform future land-use planning

A group of scientists is sampling water from around the Bay of Fundy to track chemical run-off from farms and sewage in an effort to inform future land-use decision making.

"There's no data existing for what we're measuring right now," said Donald Killorn, the executive director of Eastern Charlotte Waterways, the group behind the project.

Donald Killorn is the executive director of Eastern Charlotte Waterways, which is mapping the Bay of Fundy for human-caused chemical runoff. (Denis Calnan/CBC)
Killorn and his team were on the Chignecto Basin on Wednesday, measuring what is called eutrophication indicators.

"Eutrification is an outcome from human use on land. Whether its a municipal sewage system or an agricultural industry those are all inputs that are concentrated and can be disruptive," said Killorn.

"We'll be collecting water samples for analysis. For nitrates, phosphorus, chlorophyll A. And also measuring environmental parameters, like water clarity, temperature, dissolved oxygen — the sort of things that would be affected by an excess of nutrients," said Killorn.

While the environmental group has gathered samples in the lower Bay of Fundy in previous years, this is the first time it is on the Chignecto Basin, where they are gathering samples at 20 sites.

"We did the same methodology as a pilot project in the outer Bay of Fundy, where we're located, around Blacks Harbour. So Passamaquoddy Bay, the Saint John Harbour. And this is the first time we've brought it up into the upper Bay of Fundy and it wraps up right around. We're partnering with the clean Annapolis River Project [in Annapolis Royal, N.S.]," said Killorn.

"So we'll have all six major estuaries in the Bay of Fundy covered this time," he said, before heading out on the water from the dock in Alma.

Christine McLaughlan is the executive director of the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance. (Denis Calnan/CBC)
That holistic approach adds to what other environmental groups are doing further inland in different watersheds.

"We have a bunch of different groups looking at this issue from different angles," said Christine McLauchlan, the executive director of the Petitcodiac Watershed Alliance.

"It's important that we have the bay monitored, where all these watersheds are draining into. And then groups like mine are working in the freshwater smaller streams," said McLauchlan.

Tracking where the chemicals are going to and coming from means that officials can make informed decisions on land use and try to limit the resulting human impact on waterways.

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