Scientists: Environmental Lakes Area survival not certainMonday, September 02, 2013 by: SooToday.com Staff
SAVE THE ENVIRONMENTAL LAKES AREA (ELA)
Interim agreement reached for Canada’s renowned Experimental Lakes Area (ELA)
REGINA - Today’s announcement on the future of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), by Premier Kathleen Wynne, was made in Kenora, Ontario, where a small but active group has been part of the national and international drive to save the unique freshwater science facility.
On May 17, the federal government announced the closure of the world renowned facility that studies the impacts of aquatic pollutants on lakes ecosystems.
Wynne announced an interim agreement, effective September 1st, 2013, between Ontario, the federal government, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, which is scheduled to become the new operator of the ELA, if outstanding issues can be resolved.
This interim agreement will expire March 14, 2014.
For those most concerned with preventing this closure, the announcement has had a mixed reaction.
“I congratulate Ontario's Premier Kathleen Wynne for her leadership in providing some essential - albeit temporary - life support for the Experimental Lakes Area", praised aquatic ecologist Diane Orihel, founder of the Coalition to Save ELA. "If it weren't for her commitment, ELA would be a dead duck right now, owing to the vacuous, misguided priorities of Canada's government under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper".
There are still concerns, however.
“A major issue during this interim period will be the retention of the ELA scientists and staff,” said Dr. David Schindler, Killam Memorial Professor Emeritus at the University of Alberta. “These people have been and will continue to be essential in carrying out the type of whole ecosystem experiments unique to the ELA.”
A positive development could be the opportunity for scientists who work at the ELA to have greater participation in making sure that the new setup that is finalized will be “science friendly”.
This has been difficult in the recent past due to the large number of complex issues compared to the time available.
“Scientists hope that the Ontario government, in partnership with the IISD, will be amenable to setting up a scientific advisory committee prior to the deal being finalized. This would greatly improve the chances of their investment having the most productive scientific output,” said Dr. Britt Hall, Associate Professor, University of Regina and leader of the Coalition.