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Dr. George Dixon

Surface, groundwater management research for the oil sands industry

A research project into surface and groundwater management in the oil sands industry is being headed by Dr. George Dixon, Biology, UW’s Dean of Science. Funded by the Canadian Water Network, the project involves Dr. Dixon and a team of 20 researchers from across Canada, 10 of them from Waterloo. The oil sands industry in Alberta produces crude oil by extracting bitumen from oil sands. This produces large volumes of tailings and process-affected water containing constituents derived from oil sands ore. Current surface mining techniques result in process-affected water in surface and ground waters, contributing to acute toxicity of surface waters to aquatic organisms. The project is developing tools and methodologies that contribute to modelling hydrological, chemical and biological processes that control water quantity and quality in connected groundwater-surface water systems. It will establish effective communication of environmental health to risk managers to improve the ability to perform environmental risk assessments related to the industry.