The Experimental Lakes Area is a freshwater research facility comprised of 58 small lakes and their watersheds. The area is set aside for scientific study of the impacts of climate change, agricultural runoff, water management, contaminants such as mercury and organic pollutants, and a growing list of new chemical substances.
IJC commissioners recently had a chance to tour the facility with members of the International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board.
Located in a sparsely populated region of Northwestern Ontario, Canada, the lakes in the area are not affected by human impacts. By manipulating these small lakes, scientists are able to examine how all aspects of the ecosystem—from the atmosphere to fish populations—respond. Findings from these real-world experiments are often much more accurate than those from research conducted at smaller scales, such as in laboratories.
This unique research approach has influenced billion-dollar decisions of governments and industries. It has generated more cost-effective environmental policies, regulations and management, all to ensure the safety of our freshwater supplies. Below, see photos taken during the tour of the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA).