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Freshwater scientist urges Ottawa not to shut down ELA

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A leading freshwater scientist is urging the federal government to continue research in the Experimental Lakes Area, saying it helps avoid policy based on " a whim."

University of Alberta's ecology chair David Schindler is in Winnipeg today to add his voice to a coalition urging the federal government not to shut down the ELA. He said the ELA helped pave the way on research for how Lake Winnipeg could be restored and led to policies which focus on phosphorus removal.

The ELA is a unique program which allows scientists to conduct experiments on 58 lakes in northwestern Ontario near Kenora. Last May, Ottawa announced it will cut the $2-million operating budget for ELA as of April 2013 and either sell the program for $1 or close it.

Scientists around the world have decried the cuts, claiming the ELA is the only research facility of its kind and has helped lead to public policy in critical areas including acid rain, mercury poisoning and phosphorus buildup.

 The ELA research on acid rain led to increased restrictions on sulfur emissions in Canada, the U.S.and Europe, Schindler said.

Schindler said the ELA has always researched ahead so sound policy can be based on sound science, and not a whim.

He said the federal government has responded to pleas to not shut down the ELA with "thundering silence." Schindler said he doesn't care whether the research is publicy or privately funded, as long as it continues.

"Science underpins so many of our decisions," he said.

History

Updated on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 9:25 PM CST: add photo

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