Impact Assessment and Water Quality Management Support for Mining Activities in Northern Alberta
Client: AMEC Earth & Environmental Limited, Calgary, Alberta
Oil sands currently account for 34% of Canada's domestic production of crude oil and have the potential to supply up to 50% or more within the next decade. AQUA TERRA Consultants is working as a subconsultant to AMEC Earth and Environmental on hydrology and water quality model applications in Northern Alberta as part of AMEC's support for confidential clients involved in oil sands development and remediation. The US EPA's Hydrological Simulation Program - FORTRAN (HSPF) is the model of choice for assessment of watershed-scale impacts of oil sands development in the region, and has been approved and accepted for this use in Environmental Impact Assessments by Alberta Environment, the regulatory agency. The region is located at a latitude comparable to southern Alaska and experiences harsh continental winter conditions lasting from November through April or May. AQUA TERRA has supported, and continues to support, AMEC in a wide range of HSPF-related modeling efforts. These include: expert review of HSPF applications and parameterization by other firms; participation in peer review panels and workshops; performance of model calibration and validation on selected watersheds; guidance on model setup, calibration, and validation to AMEC staff for numerous muskeg-type watersheds; presentation of HSPF training workshops; and parameter estimation and modeling of remediation alternatives. The application watersheds are in various stages of oil sands development with extensive wetland and peat-type land cover characteristic of the muskeg landscape, existing oil sands development facilities, and are dominated by extensive snow accumulation, snow melt, and snow-covered conditions. Work is continuing on use of the model by AMEC and other development companies in the region for representing remediation alternatives, stormwater design, impact assessment, and permitting applications.