Aquatic scientists at Canada's Freshwater Institute have been strong allies of the environment by getting the word out to on the real impacts on hydroelctric projects.

Click here for a summary of hydro's effects on boreal ecosystems.

Published in 1984, Volume 41 of the Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences is completely devoted to their research into the ecological and other impacts of SIL, the Southern Indian lake project. SIL is probably the most thoroughly studied dammed system in the world. Other data has come from ELA, the Experimental Lakes Area, located in NW Ontario.

More recently, DFO has put up a page on the highlights of ELA research . The page fails to mention why Drs Schindler and Hecky relinquished their leadership posts at ELA and FI. They quit in protest over the shoddy way in which DFO bureaucrats were running the programs. That Schindler and Hecky resigned in protest is a matter of public record [Ottawa Citizen].

DFO also has a page on ongoing research associated with mercury pollution created by "developing" Manitoba's Churchill River. this is research done by FI researchers. [link soon].

. Scientists at the Freshwater Institute have done more than point out the effects of reservoirs. Former director, Dr. David W. Schindler (who now holds the Killam Chair in Ecology at U. of Alberta's Zoology dept.) and his colleagues were instrumental in getting legislators to see the role of phosphate-laden detergents in the eutrophication of so many lakes around the world. Because of their work legislation in Europe, the USA and Canada was changed to protect lakes from the ravages of too much phosphate.

But DFO's scientists have been dogged by what amounts in practise to gag orders: high-level bureaucrats have repeatedly either denied scientists permission to speak to the public and in at least one case to legislators. In other cases, directors-general have forbidden a number of scientists from speaking out about the implications of their findings. Check out this assesment by the FI's David M. Rosenberg on the importance of ELA and the Freshwater Institute. And note how the URL is in Australia [!].

All of this is disturbing. Still more disturbing is the recent attempts by the government to dump funding for the Freshwater Institute. As it stands, the Freshwater Institute gets most of its funding from US universities.

Why dump funding? Why prevent scientists from speaking except to their collegues? Why the secrecy and lack of support? Is there something the bureaucrats are trying to hide?

It is said to never attribute to malice what you can attribute to stupidity. And so it is that, despite the fact that humanity's existance depends utterly upon sufficient and clean supplies of freshwater, and the consequently important role of the Institute as a watchdog in the battle to keep global freshwater supplies safe from threats, the federal government wants to stop funding the Freshwater Institute. Though they found reportedly 8 million dollars to bale out a Winnipeg professional sports team, safe fresh water is seemingly not a priority suitable for funding from the public purse.

We can live without sports but we can't afford to let our fresh water supplies be threatened. Let the politicians know they're wrong. The world needs the Freshwater Institute. Even if the Canadian govenrment is either too thick or too corrupt or what? to get the point.

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