Assessing vulnerability of waters to Mining in the Rainy Lake of the Woods watershed


Aquatic Ecosystem Health

Project Description

The past, present and future impacts of mining in the Rainy-Lake of the Woods / Rainy River basin has been a topic of concern for the International Rainy-Lake of the Woods Watershed Board (IRLWWB) for many years. The concerns of the board have been raised to the International Joint Commission (IJC), and the governments of Canada and the U.S.

The IRLWWB and the Health Professional Advisory Board (HPAB) have partnered for a project to better understand the impacts of mining. This 18-month project is to develop a shared accessible, bi-national understanding of the extent of historical and current mining, mineral potential, and the availability of relevant data required to assess impacts within the Rainy-Lake of the Woods / Rainy River basin.

The HPAB’s role in the project is to lend technical support and to review and assess the end results.

The first step of the study is to gather data from multiple different organizations, including different levels of government in the U.S. and Canada, and members of the First Nations community on:

1. Mine locations, past, present, and proposed; 

2. Water quality of rivers and lakes, including human health indicators;

3. Health of the aquatic community;

4. Mineral potentials on a sub-watershed basis;

5. Hydrology, including data on flows and directions of flow of surface water and ground water.

Using all the collected data, a spatial analysis will be conducted to identify any gaps in existing data, identify any priority areas for impact assessment and additional monitoring, and identify the elements required to develop a risk identification framework. The results of this study will allow the board to better assess what additional data may need to be gathered and to make informed recommendations to the IJC and other agencies about those needs.




Health Professionals Advisory Board