The Effect of Dissolved Organic Carbon from Permafrost Thaw on Drinking Water


PROJECT LEAD: Sherry Schiff, Pieter Aukes, (University of Waterloo) / Michael English (Laurier)
PROJECT TEAM MEMBERS: Paul Dainard (University of Waterloo)

As the climate warms there are implications for freshwater quality in the NWT as the large stores of organic matter begin to decompose at accelerated rates. Elevated concentrations of Dissolved Organic Matter (~60% of which is Dissolved Organic Carbon) in surface water bodies will likely occur as a result. This has implications for solubility/mobility of metals in freshwater systems, which in turn has implications for general ecosystem health and to community members who rely on fish for a notable portion of their diet. Drinking water will be impacted as elevated concentrations of DOC will require additional chlorine for treatment. The production of disinfection byproducts is a likely possibility when this occurs. How the elevated DOC in the natural system responds to both microbiological processes and photolysis is an unknown. This project examines these potentially disruptive and time sensitive issues.

Meetings with community members in Wekweèti in 2016 and 2017. Research presentations at Arrowmaker School in Wekweèti.