In the spring of 2017, a mesocosm study funded by Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance’s (COSIA) Demonstration Pit Lake (DPL) Joint Industry Project (JIP), was undertaken at InnoTech Alberta’s Aquatic Mesocosm facility in Vegreville, AB to support the development of end pit lake (EPL) technology. This study was continued over the winter (a unique capability of the facility) and ended in the Fall of 2018. Mesocosm studies present an important progression between laboratory testing and full-scale implementation to de-risk factors unforeseeable at the laboratory scale and financially prohibitive at field scale.
This study utilized thirty 15,000 L mesocosms, simplified and replicated aquatic ecosystems, which had been designed and constructed by InnoTech Alberta in 2016. The mesocosms were exposed to OSPW (Oil Sands Process affected Water) and dFFT (densified Fluid Fine Tails) in late May of 2017, followed by four months of data and sample collection. The project was overwintered in place and monitoring/sampling continued in 2018 as in 2017, with some additional parameters (chlorophyll, phytoplankton coverage and acute Daphnia toxicity) and modifications to the sampling schedule to capture the widest open-water sampling period possible. The mesocosms were decommissioned in October 2018 so a refined study could be conducted the following year.