October 3, 2005

New research institute contributes to NS water quality knowledge

More knowledge will be gained on how to keep Nova Scotia's lakes and rivers fresh and clean through research being conducted at the new Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute in southwestern Nova Scotia. Scientists are using the new facility to study the effects of acid rain, climate change and development on water quality. Water and insect samples collected during the summer and are now being analyzed at the institute.

"Scientists are looking at pH, chemicals and nutrients in the water, and the type and health of the insects that live in and around the water," said Environment and Labour Minister Kerry Morash. "That will help determine if there's any environmental effects on water quality. Having facilities right here in the field is a great help to this and other research efforts."

The research conducted will provide more information to help government initiatives, such as water and air quality programs and protected areas management.

The institute formally opened in December 2004. The Department of Environment and Labour provided $25,000 in June 2005 to help establish the facility. The provincial funding helped cover start-up costs for the institute's permanent home in a former Bowater Mersey Paper field office in Kempt, Queens County. The institute has also received contributions from the federal and municipal governments.

"Through this facility, researchers will help us better understand issues that are critical to our environment and our economy so we can help both flourish," Morash noted.

The facility is available to researchers from universities, governments, businesses and associations, who pay modest fees to cover the institute's operating costs. As a non-profit co-operative, the institute's board of directors represents the public, landowners, industry, educators, researchers and three levels of government. The co-operative employs three full-time scientists to co-ordinate projects.

This year, researchers from across Nova Scotia are using the facility for projects ranging from the chemistry of water to the biology of wildlife. The institute also offers a public seminar series on various research topics. It is also developing best practices for conservation and promoting sustainable use of natural resources.

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