Due to be completed in 2015, the implementation plan includes
expansion of the current number and locations of monitoring sites,
increased sampling frequency and parameters, and implementation of
new sensing tools and methods. Monitoring will focus on
collecting data from the following components: air quality,
water quantity and quality, levels of acidity in sensitive lakes,
aquatic ecosystem health, wildlife toxicology, and terrestrial
biodiversity and habitat disturbance.
The phased implementation of the monitoring program will be
jointly managed by both governments with public annual progress
reports prepared for the first three years and, following year
three, external expert peer reviews at five-year intervals.
As well, the monitoring program will undergo internal reviews of
the scope, operations and cost of the program.
In addition to increased monitoring efforts, the implementation
plan includes the development of a data management system which
will make the methodology and collected data publicly available in
a standardized coordinated manner. This will encourage and
enable concerned parties to conduct independent assessment and
During the first three years, the total cost of the enhanced
monitoring will be up to $50 million per year on top of the current
resources contributed to environmental monitoring. The
implementation plan indicates that funding for the monitoring
program will come primarily from industry. Moving forward,
both governments will be working with oil sands industry to develop
a sustainable, ongoing funding arrangement to support the
The new program will consolidate and integrate the oils sands
monitoring activities presently managed by independent
organizations and resolves the current challenges created by
multiple independent monitoring programs.
Furthermore, data from the expanded monitoring will be used to
improve understanding of the current status and on-going state of
the environment as well as the factors contributing to the
environmental impacts in the oil sands area. This approach to
environmental monitoring will be useful as a tool to assess the
efficacy of mitigation efforts and may be a key component for
decision-makers and stakeholders to advance sustainable management
of resource development in Alberta while balancing environmental
interests and commitments.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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