The Experimental Lake Area (ELA), a unique, world-renowned freshwater study area in northwestern Ontario, will get $9.5 million for its continuing research as part of a new five-year deal with the province.
The funding announcement was made by the Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources, and Forestry (NDMNRF) ministry in Kenora, approximately 50 kilometres northwest of the remote area.
“The Experimental Lakes Area is the world’s most important freshwater research facility,” NDMNRF Minister Greg Rickford stated in a Thursday, April 14 release.
“The area is a living laboratory for critical research and scientific study that sustains healthy ecosystems for future generations. Our government is proud to invest in facilities such as these so that we can expand understanding of the critical changes in ecology over time, and continue our work building Ontario.”
Acid rain, phosphorus, mercury studied
Work at the ELA includes implementing an acid rain recovery program for the Sudbury region, studying phosphorus in inland lakes and the Great Lakes, as well as addressing the effects of mercury emissions from coal-fired plants in Ontario and the US.
The province is also providing $180,000 through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation to the ELA to produce design drawings and cost estimates for a potential new building at the site.
Province assumed responsibility
The ELA, which was established in 1968 to study pollution, climate change, and water-protection strategies, encompasses 58 lakes and their drainage basins, totalling 270 square kilometres. It is officially known as the International Institute for Sustainable Development – Experimental Lakes Area (IISD-ELA).
ELA funding has been in the news in the past. It was closed on March 31, 2013 as part of Department of Fisheries and Oceans cutbacks but reopened in April 2014 as Ontario agreed to cover the approximately $2 million annual operating costs. The province has paid $16 million to support the ELA since assuming responsibility.