Managing Urban Eutrophication Risks under Climate Change: An Integrated Modelling and Decision Support Framework

Principal Investigator: Philippe Van Cappellen (University of Waterloo)

Co-Investigators: Nandita Basu (University of Waterloo), Roy Brouwer (University of Waterloo), James Craig (University of Waterloo), Helen Jarvie (University of Waterloo), Homa Kheyrollah Pour (Wilfrid Laurier University), Bruce MacVicar (University of Waterloo)

Project Overview

Rapid urban growth in the past decades has made cities major contributors to aquatic ecosystems’ health degradation due to the disproportionate location of cities along water bodies. Increased imperviousness combined with more severe weather events are resulting in increasingly flashy and unpredictable urban pollution pulses to receiving waters. The development of adaptive urban water management and planning strategies that minimize negative downstream impacts requires an integrated, system-based understanding of the responses of pollutant export from urban areas to changing climate and urbanization pressures.

This project proposes to assemble a toolbox for assessing the vulnerability and exposure of the water quality of large water bodies to urbanization and climate change. As the testbed for the proposed integrated approach, the researchers will focus on eutrophication risks in the littoral zone of the western basin of Lake Ontario (WLO) driven by urban phosphorus (P) inputs from Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe, which includes the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The project will deliver a science-based roadmap for prioritizing measures to protect water quality and ecosystem health from urban pollution. It will also advance the representation of urban processes in water quality assessment and prediction.