Acid Sensitive Lakes, Oil Sands Region
Nine hundred and thirty-three lakes located in Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories were sampled to establish current acidification status. Of the 933 lakes, 244 (or 26%) are considered acid sensitive, almost always because of naturally low calcium and magnesium (or \basecation\) concentrations. The most acid-sensitive lakes (i.e., those with extremely low base cation concentrations) are located on the Canadian Shield in both Alberta and Saskatchewan and east of the oils sands development area.
Fifty-one of the 244 acid-sensitive lakes were sampled twice annually (spring and fall) to identify chemical changes through trend analyses. Results revealed that 55% of these lakes had concentrations of some metals in excess of Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment guidelines. Of the 291 samples taken in the 51 lakes, iron concentrations were greater than guidelines in 36% (105 samples), aluminum in 33% (97 samples), lead in 0.3% (1 sample) and copper in 0.3% (1 sample). The metals in these lakes occur naturally and are expected to be found in a wide range of concentrations given the geology and physiography of the Canadian Shield. It remains to establish the relationship between acid sensitivity, geology and high metal concentrations.
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