This paper is an assessment of the current status and trends of Canadian lake systems, and their likely status after the effect of the emission controls required by the Canada/US Air Quality Agreement is fully realized. Many anthropogenically acidified lakes presently occur in that part of eastern Canada where SO- deposition is elevated. Terrain sensitivity also influences their spatial distribution. From 1981 to 1994, only 33% of 202 lakes monitored across eastern Canada showed a statistically significant improvement (reduction) in acidity in response to reduced SO- deposition (11% had increasing acidity and 56% showed no change). Over half of the improving lakes are near Sudbury, Ontario. Several biogeochemical processes are delaying de-acidification. As a result, there has been little biological recovery in eastern waters, except near Sudbury. Steady-state water chemistry modelling suggests that the proportion of "damaged" lakes (defined as having pH <6) will decline in response to both the Canadian and US emission controls. Reductions in biological damage (e.g. fewer lost fish populations) are expected also, but they will lag behind chemical improvement. Significant damage to aquatic ecosystems will remain after all chemical and biological improvements are realized. Further controls will be needed to protect sensitive ecosystems.
Acid rain, aquatic effects, emission control, trends, modelling, assessment.
DS Jeffries, Environment Canada, National Water Research Institute, P.O.
5050, Burlington, ON, L7R 4A6 CANADA