Experimental Lakes Area bailed out

by Steve Galea | June 2, 2013

experimental lakes area - people in a boat working

The Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) in northern Ontario will reopen thanks to a collaborative effort, announced in April, by the governments of Canada, Manitoba, and Ontario, as well as the International Institute for Sustainable Development and other partners.

The ELA, which was established in 1968 for research on pollution, climate change, and water-protection strategies, is a unique scientific, freshwater study area that encompasses 58 lakes and their drainage basins. It is situated 50 kilometres southeast of Kenora, in the Lake of the Woods watershed.

The area is used by scientists from Canada and abroad for freshwater studies and is the only whole-lake study laboratory in the world.

The ELA was closed on March 31 as part of cutbacks by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, announced last May. The facility cost taxpayers $2-million annually to operate.

Ontario’s Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Laurel Broten said that Ontario took the lead in the initiative to reopen the world-renowned facility, but at press time, details of funding or support had not yet been determined.

“We listened to the scientific and academic communities and started preliminary conversations with the other partners,” she said.

“The ELA is a one-of-a-kind research facility. Some really important work has been conducted there that has helped our province, our country, and others develop effective environmental policies. The key thing is that we all want this research to continue; we think it is important. Ontario will provide operating support.”

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