03 June 2014

On the good news front—Experimental Lakes Area is open for business

Of all the victims of the federal government's suppression of science, the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) was perhaps the most important. The ELA, comprised of 58 freshwater lakes along with accommodation and laboratories, is a unique Canadian scientific research facility, the only site in the world where whole-lake experimentation is carried out.

Its research has been instrumental in phasing out harmful phosphorus additives in cleaning products, tightening air pollution standards in response to acid rain, and installation of scrubbers inside industrial smokestacks to reduce mercury levels found in fish. The ELA has influenced public policy on water management throughout North America and its scientists have won an array of prestigious international awards.

Early in 2012, the federal government decided to close the ELA, a decision widely condemned by the Canadian and international scientific communities. The eminent scientific journal Nature described it as "disturbing." The government was, at least, willing to negotiate with the Ontario and Manitoba governments and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) to maintain the ELA.

And they have. This month, under the management of the IISD, newly-hired scientists will officially resume research at the ELA. However the IISD needs help. Funding by Ontario and Manitoba will allow for management of the facilities and a minimum amount of research, but in order to rebuild the program to its former status it requires additional support. If you would like to contribute to a facility that has influenced water science around the world, you can read all about it here.

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