Position Profile

Job Title:  Limnologist

Work Unit:  Operations Division, Upper Athabasca Region, Resource Management

Ministry:  Alberta Environment and Parks

Competition Number:  1049295
 

Purpose

 

This is a senior specialist position in Upper Athabasca Region, having scientific expertise and applied technical skills in the area of water quality, aquatic biology, and limnology. The position will be focused on the Upper Athabasca Basin. The appointee is responsible for providing technical expertise to all levels of government, partners, stakeholders, and the general public with respect to the quality of Alberta’s surface water resources. The appointee is also responsible for providing specialist services in aquatic ecosystem assessment in the Upper Athabasca Region, and works extensively with stakeholders and other government agencies to develop and implement measures to manage stresses on aquatic ecosystems. The specialist works closely with agency regulators to support the development and implementation of municipal and industrial approvals. This can include expert review of impact assessments, review and revision of approval documents, review of monitoring plans and reports associated with approved projects, and review of closure and reclamation plans. In addition, the appointee supports the design of regional monitoring programs, as well as ensuring scientific evaluation of resulting data. The appointee works with regional planners and policy specialists to support departmental environmental management initiatives. The appointee represents the Department and provides technical expertise on multi-stakeholder groups to assess environmental outcomes and reclamation strategies related to industrial and municipal sectors.

This position determines if government standards and policies are protecting the quality of surface water resources and achieving desired environmental outcomes through its evaluation and reporting function, and works with the community, industry, and all levels of government to ensure the protection and enhancement of surface water quality in the Upper Athabasca Region.

Reporting to the South District Resource Manager - Upper Athabasca Region, the position operates under the authority of the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA), Water Act, Public Lands Act, Alberta Land Stewardship Act and associated Regulations and Codes of Practice, and in fulfillment of the Departmental mandate and strategic priorities.

Responsibilities and Activities

  1.

Manages surface water quality investigation projects under the frameworks of Water For Life and the Land Use Framework to support the development and assessment of environmental outcomes.

  • Needs assessment: Consults with community groups, stakeholders, intra-agency parties (regional offices, Operations Division, Policy Division, IRMS) and other government agencies to identify existing and emerging water quality issues.
  • Project design: Reviews technical background associated with the issue, defines project objectives, designs monitoring program, and prepares detailed budgets. Consults with regional limnologists, water policy experts and partners to allocate fiscal and human resources to proposed projects. Project planning may involve coordination with consultants, industry, stakeholders and other government agencies.
  • Project implementation: Provides direction to technical staff or consultants assigned to the project, manages contracts, tracks invoices, and assesses quality of analytical/evaluative results. Conducts continuous review of project and makes necessary modifications.
     
  2.

Provides specialist technical support to municipal and industrial approvals and compliance personnel tasked with implementing EPEA, Water Act and Public Lands Act to assure protection of aquatic ecosystems.

  • Technical review: Review environmental impact assessments to assist in the development of EPEA approvals; review and assess effluent, surface water and wetland monitoring programs and related reports submitted by approval holders; review monitoring reports associated with industrial spills and contamination and provide advice to compliance personnel.
  • Approval development: Review existing EPEA approvals to assure protection of aquatic ecosystems, draft amendments as required; assist in the drafting of EPEA approvals for new projects; provide advice to approval engineers on the establishment of loading limits under EPEA and the Water Act.
  • Emergency response: Provide advice to compliance personnel on water monitoring following spills or unplanned releases, and review monitoring reports; assure that interested parties within the department (Transboundary, aboriginal relations) remain informed.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment review: Participate on Environmental Impact Assessment review teams and represent the region as required. Develop the surface water and aquatic components of the Terms of Reference. Assist in the preparation of Alberta Environment and Parks public hearings.
     
  3.

Represents the Department and provides technical guidance to multi-stakeholder groups in a collaborative process that delivers information and shared outcomes that support the Department’s mandate to provide environmental assurance, and manage cumulative effects.

  • Regulatory perspective: Provides clarity on the specific regulatory and other requirements that correspond to the group’s mandate; identifies deficiencies.
  • Technical guidance: Assures that information generated by the group is technically sound; assures that the group’s work plan will support their mandate.
  • Leadership: Assures that the group produces information that is consistent with what is required under EPEA approvals, and that it supports departmental planning and policy development; provides direction relative to emerging policies and departmental initiatives.
     
  4.

Provides specialist services in aquatic ecosystem assessment, water quality analysis and watershed management under the auspices of Water For Life, Land Use Framework, and management frameworks built into Regional Plans.

  • Data analysis: employs statistical techniques to derive coherent information from water quality or ecological data; advises on appropriate statistical approaches; uses suitable graphical techniques to clearly communicate ecological information.
  • Information dissemination: prepares technical and non-technical reports of monitoring/research findings; prepares and delivers oral presentations to the public, professionals, and department management; transmits scientific information to other divisions and agencies and to the broader scientific community.
  • Specialized knowledge: Uses specialized tools such as water quality models, biomonitoring, or paleoecological techniques to assess ecosystem health and inform water management decisions; provides guidance to groups seeking to use these techniques in ecosystem assessment; stays current on lake and watershed management, water quality, and limnology, by reading the scientific literature, attending conferences and other meetings, maintaining a network of associates in this field.
     
  5.

Supports the Department’s assurance mandate by engaging with the broader community over issues related to aquatic ecology to ensure that Albertans receive accurate and understandable information on the state of the aquatic environment.

  • Communication: responds to information requests from the public, the media, communications branch, and the office of the Minister.
  • Community support: advises watershed groups in the Upper Athabasca Region on matters related to lake and watershed management.
  • Outreach: Participates in watershed management workshops and open houses.
     
  6.

Engaged in regional policy development exercises under the Alberta Land Stewardship Act and the Land Use Framework to assure that the Government properly manages additive impacts human activities on aquatic ecosystems.

  • Policy: works with Policy Division to develop guiding policy on issues identified within Upper Athabasca Region, or through the multi-stakeholder process
  • Technical guidance: Participates on technical committees to identify environmental indicators, define environmental objectives, and assure that environmental outcomes are met in regional plans
  • Applicability: implements aquatic resource management objectives through resource management planning and decision-making processes (e.g., Water Act Approvals; LUF Regional Plans, Water for Life Watershed Plans). Provide regional aquatics management perspective for development of major water management strategies.

Scope

 

The position is recognized in the region as a specialist, therefore is expected to provide scientific expertise and advice to regional staff on surface water and aquatic environmental issues. There is a requirement to provide guidance and identify and analyze initiatives in the area of the aquatic protection program and policy development and research. Creative thinking may involve the identification of policy gaps, identification of environmental thresholds in highly complex systems, and involvement in the design of cumulative effects management programs in environmentally and politically complex regions. This requires blending policy and science with public and private interests while developing policy that is achievable under existing legislation. The position works with land, water and other resource managers, resource development industries, and stakeholders in this role. In addition, this position:

  • Must consider and account for potential impacts to the aquatic environment at the local, regional and provincial scale
  • Provides guidance and decisions on scientific validity of partner based monitoring programs for Watershed Stewardship Groups and communicates recommendations for improvement and future monitoring
  • Makes decisions and recommendations for regional and stakeholder group work plans and budgets
  • Supports regional planning initiatives via coordination and participation in multi-stakeholder committees to address the current state of the aquatic environment and ongoing data, policy and research needs
  • Provides support and leadership in addressing Water for Life strategies, specifically ensuring a healthy aquatic ecosystem and partnering/supporting stakeholders through provision of water quality information and development of water quality monitoring/research programs
  • Participates on multi stakeholder teams to provide guidance on environmental components of resource development and to coordinate research and monitoring activities
  • Provides advice on the importance of the aquatic environment and consideration of water quality along with other ecosystem components in the assessment of current and future activities and potential cumulative impacts to the environment
  • Provides information and recommendations to influence resource managers and other decision makers to recognize, understand, and integrate watershed practices that protect and enhance healthy aquatic ecosystems
  • Provide guidance, recommendations and advice to compliance and approval staff to assess impacts of incidents and existing and proposed activities to the aquatic environment
  • Provides recommendations on complex or contentious aquatic contamination issues for the approval managers, director or any other regional staff requiring this technical expertise

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

 

The position is recognized in the region as a specialist, therefore is expected to provide scientific expertise and advice to regional staff on surface water and aquatic environmental issues. There is a requirement to provide guidance and identify and analyze initiatives in the area of the aquatic protection program and policy development and research. Creative thinking may involve the identification of policy gaps, identification of environmental thresholds in highly complex systems, and involvement in the design of cumulative effects management programs in environmentally and politically complex regions. This requires blending policy and science with public and private interests while developing policy that is achievable under existing legislation. The position works with land, water and other resource managers, resource development industries, and stakeholders in this role. In addition, this position:

  • Must consider and account for potential impacts to the aquatic environment at the local, regional and provincial scale
  • Provides guidance and decisions on scientific validity of partner-based monitoring programs for Watershed Stewardship Groups and communicates recommendations for improvement and future monitoring
  • Makes decisions and recommendations for regional and stakeholder group work plans and budgets
  • Supports regional planning initiatives via coordination and participation in multi-stakeholder committees to address the current state of the aquatic environment and ongoing data, policy and research needs
  • Provides support and leadership in addressing Water for Life strategies, specifically ensuring a healthy aquatic ecosystem and partnering/supporting stakeholders through provision of water quality information and development of water quality monitoring/research programs
  • Participates on multi-stakeholder teams to provide guidance on environmental components of resource development and to coordinate research and monitoring activities
  • Provides advice on the importance of the aquatic environment and consideration of water quality along with other ecosystem components in the assessment of current and future activities and potential cumulative impacts to the environment
  • Provides information and recommendations to influence resource managers and other decision makes to recognize, understand, and integrate watershed practices that protect and enhance healthy aquatic ecosystems
  • Provides advice to monitoring staff to implement monitoring programs
  • Provide guidance, recommendations and advice to compliance and approval staff to assess impacts of incidents and existing and proposed activities to the aquatic environment
  • Provides recommendations on complex or contentious aquatic contamination issues for the approval managers, director or any other regional staff requiring this technical expertise

Contacts

 
  • Upper Athabasca Resource Manager, South District
  • Water quality/quantity, aquatic ecosystem, and risk specialists are some main regular daily contacts for the position.
  • Regional Planners and Environmental Management Specialists: are main contacts for Water for Life implementation in Regionals Plans, particularly watershed planning in partnership with Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils and Watershed Stewardship Groups.
  • The Approvals Manager and his/her team are regular contacts for approval-related issues
    • Ongoing contact with approvals and compliance branches in Alberta Environment and Parks to provide advice with regards to impacts of proposed or approved activities on the aquatic environment.
    • Ongoing contact with researchers, peers, and provincial counterparts to discuss and review projects and programs, share new information, and address emerging and ongoing aquatic ecosystem issues in Alberta.
    • Ongoing contact with industry and stakeholders, primarily through Athabasca Watershed Council (AWC) and Lesser Slave Lake Watershed Council (LSLWC), to ensure that these organizations can proceed under their respective mandates.
    • Ongoing guidance to temporary technical staff to ensure the delivery of local, regional and provincial water quality management programs

Supervision Exercised

 

Currently, no positions directly report to this position. However, this position provides key leadership and support, both internally and externally, for the development and implementation of strategies, programs, policy, standards and objectives to support the protection of aquatic ecosystems. The appointee directs specialized contractors, technologist(s), and temporary staff (such as students) assigned to management programs that this position oversees.

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