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Application of CCME Water Quality Index to Monitor Water Quality: A Case Study of the Mackenzie River Basin, Canada

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Abstract

All six ecosystem initiatives evolved from many years of federal, provincial, First Nation, local government and community attention to the stresses on sensitive habitats and species, air and water quality, and the consequent threats to community livability. This paper assesses water quality aspect for the ecosystem initiatives and employs newly developed Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment Water Quality Index (CCME WQI) which provides a convenient mean of summarizing complex water quality data that can be easily understood by the public, water distributors, planners, managers and policy makers. The CCME WQI incorporates three elements: Scope – the number of water quality parameters (variables) not meeting water quality objectives (F 1); Frequency – the number of times the objectives are not met (F 2); and Amplitude. the extent to which the objectives are not met (F 3). The index produces a number between 0 (worst) to 100 (best) to reflect the water quality. This study evaluates water quality of the Mackenzie – Great Bear sub-basin by employing two modes of objective functions (threshold values): one based on the CCME water quality guidelines and the other based on site-specific values that were determined by the statistical analysis of the historical data base. Results suggest that the water quality of the Mackenzie-Great Bear sub-basin is impacted by high turbidity and total (mostly particulate) trace metals due to high suspended sediment loads during the open water season. Comments are also provided on water quality and human health issues in the Mackenzie basin based on the findings and the usefulness of CCME water quality guidelines and site specific values.

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Correspondence to Ashok Lumb.

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Lumb, A., Halliwell, D. & Sharma, T. Application of CCME Water Quality Index to Monitor Water Quality: A Case Study of the Mackenzie River Basin, Canada. Environ Monit Assess 113, 411–429 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-005-9092-6

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