Researchers chronicle human impact on creek in Iqaluit

An ongoing study shows the habits of people in Iqaluit are having a dramatic, negative impact on one of the water-bodies there.

Chris Luszczek, a Ph.D. student from York University in Toronto, has been spending time at Iqaluit's Airport Creek. He's a biologist, and a bug hunter, who takes insect and water samples for an ongoing study on water quality.

Luszczek said results show some serious changes are taking place in lower Airport Creek. He said there are higher levels of nutrients like nitrogen, likely from a nearby greenhouse, and higher levels of metals like iron and copper, likely from the nearby dump.

"I don't think it's lined," Luszczek said. "And I think the more that people contribute to that metal dump, you're getting some leeching from that dump that enters into the stream system here."

"One other thing that we've noticed from this stream is, because we are so close to where people keep their dogs, we have been able to see some parasites in the stream here," he said. "So, this site in particular has undergone a lot of change."

Luszczek said there would normally be 20 to 30 species of insects, such as mayflies, in the streams around Iqaluit. But not in lower Airport Creek, where pollution tolerant bugs are taking over.

That has implications.

"The fish that are in the stream will feed heavily on these insects,” he said. “So, if we are able to identify changes or threats to the insect community, we might be able to act and do something about it before that goes up the food chain and starts to affect the fish."

The researchers from York and the Nunavut Research Institute said the study has a long way to go, but has also made progress.

The project co-ordinator for the institute, Jamal Shirley, said that includes developing a technique for consistent sampling in Arctic conditions.

"That resulted in this, what I think is, a pretty ground-breaking new set of information and protocols to help better monitor and assess our water,” he said.

The researchers hope the project can help lead to community-based monitoring around the territory.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting