Collins AL, Blackwell M, Boeckx P, Chivers C-A, Emelko MB, Evrard O, Foster I, Gellis A, Gholami H, Granger S, Harris P, Horowitz AJ, Laceby JP, Martinez-Carreras N, Minella J, Mol L, Nosrati K, Pulley S, Silins U, da Silva YJ, Stone M, Tiecher T, Upadhayay HR, Zhang Y. 2020. Sediment source fingerprinting: Benchmarking recent outputs, remaining challenges and emerging themes. Journal of Soils and Sediments.
Monica Emelko and Micheal Stone are from the University of Waterloo, and Uldis Silins from the University of Alberta.This publication is an example of cross-theme collaboration in the Network.
This research summarizes sediment source fingerprinting, the current state-of-the-art, remaining challenges and emerging themes. Accelerated soil erosion and sediment delivery threaten ecosystem services by delivering fine sediment into receiving waters. To be effective, watershed management policies that protect soil and water resources from sediment-associated contaminants require an understanding of key sediment sources. Fine-grained sediment is an especially important focus of most fingerprinting studies because it is the primary vector for the transport of nutrients, metals, and other contaminants that can be detrimental to water quality and aquatic ecosystem health. Sediment source fingerprinting is increasingly used globally, however, standardization and harmonization of the procedural details is needed. This paper calls for such standardization and provides a state-of-the-art overview of trends, challenges, and convergence of methodological details.
Fine sediment is a key driver of source water quality. In particular, it plays a key role in the transport of phosphorus, which is a limiting nutrient in freshwaters that promotes algal blooms. Although suspended solids are easily managed during drinking water treatment, fine sediment has been largely overlooked in drinking water reservoir management because it often makes up less than 5% of the total mass of sediment in aquatic systems. Fine sediment fingerprinting therefore, may offer opportunities for source water protection through the identification of key contaminant source areas, and the implementation and evaluation of remediation strategies focused on reducing sediment inputs to critical water supplies, thereby decreasing drinking water treatment costs and the potential for service disruptions.
Network publication summary: Influences of wetlands & forest harvesting and linkages to stream water quality
Leach JA, Buttle JM, Webster KL, Hazlett PW, Jeffries DS. 2020. Travel times for snowmelt-dominated headwater catchments: Influences of wetlands and forest harvesting, and linkages to stream water quality. Hydrological Processes.
Jason Leach and Kara Webster are from Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service and Jim Buttle is from Trent University. They work together in the Boreal Shield platform of the forWater Network.
The time required for water to travel through a hillslope/catchment, from where it enters the soil as rain or snowmelt, to when it exits the catchment outlet, may influence stream water quality and catchment sensitivity to environmental change. Most studies are not conducted over large enough spatial and temporal scales to provide data that meaningfully enable description of the complicated and inter-connected hydrological and biogeochemical processes that drive how much water will be available in a given system, what its quality will be, and how much those will vary over time. In this study, 12 snowmelt-dominated headwaters catchments in the Turkey Lakes Watershed in central Ontario, three of which were impacted by forest harvesting, were compared. Travel time estimates and stream water quality were evaluated between catchments.
Stream phosphorus and nitrate concentrations correlated with mean travel times, however, these correlations were also dependent on slope and surface cover (e.g., wetlands) in which biogeochemical processes would also influence water quality. Forest harvesting appeared to decrease mean travel times.
Forested watersheds respond differently to environmental changes such as harvesting or climate variability. To inform the management of water resources, it is important to understand the underlying controls on this variability so that managers can anticipate periods of higher or lower water storage, and higher or more degraded water quality.
Land disturbances, like clear-cut harvesting, can influence the concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in stream water, which can have implications for downstream drinking water quality and treatment. Derek Mueller, a Masters student from the University of Alberta, investigated how these disturbances influence DOC dynamics during their journey from the land to the receiving stream in the Montane Cordillera ecozone. The Montane Cordillera is located in western Canada and has a landscape comprised of steeply rolling hillslopes as well as rugged mountains.
The impacts of climate change on our environment can be seen across the globe. From wildfires to floods, natural disturbances have been exacerbated by climate change. High-quality water supplies are at significant risk from these disturbances which could result in deteriorating drinking water quality in many parts of Canada. To manage such risk, the City of Calgary partnered with the forWater Network three years-ago to better understand how to protect their water supply to ensure safe drinking water, even following major landscape disturbances.
"We gain access to research concerning the mobility of nutrients, fire risk and impacts, and linear disturbances around forestry,” said John Jagorinec, Manager, Water Treatment at Calgary.
As one of the young professionals working in the forWater Network, Master’s student Emily Mistick from the University of British Columbia investigated an important question: how does forest management affect drinking water?
Focussing on the Pacific Maritime ecozone, close to her home in Vancouver, Mistick looked specifically at dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in water – which can be challenging and expensive to remove during water treatment. She focused on how DOC fluctuates during storm events in areas with contrasting forest harvest history.
“I’m focusing my research on in-stream DOC measurement in a comparative study between forested and clear cut areas,” said Mistick. “In regions with high rainfall, such as Vancouver, it is known that DOC increases as stream levels rise during storms. The majority of drinking water treatment problems occur during storms, so understanding DOC storm dynamics is very important.”
The Network provides insights into new scientific research for safe, secure drinking water---globally---which starts with resilient forests