Corporate Responsibility Report 2013

Genesee Environmental Monitoring

Caring for the environment.

Wabamun-Genesee Region Biomonitoring Program

The environmental biomonitoring in the Wabamun-Genesee region in west-central Alberta determines what environmental impacts, if any, have occurred as a result of power generation. We have been working with TransAlta Generation Partnership (TGP) on this comprehensive biomonitoring program since 2004.

The 2013 Capital Power biomonitoring program was limited to surface water quality monitoring at the Genesee cooling pond. The results collected up to the end of 2013 show no appreciable trends associated with contaminent concentrations of the sampled media.

The biomonitoring program measures and assesses potential changes in environmental concentrations of several chemicals of potential concern (COPC) associated with aerial and water emissions from power generation, in addition to the monitoring of wildlife populations and habitat. The program uses nine designated terrestrial sampling locations across the geographic area, four air monitoring stations, and obtains surface water samples from three local lakes, the cooling ponds and three locations on the North Saskatchewan River. Expert environmental consultants complete routine monitoring of environmental media, including air, soil, vegetation, small mammals, fish, lake and river water, groundwater, sediment and benthic invertebrates.

Arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead, manganese, mercury and selenium are the COPC selected for the purposes of special monitoring in the Wabamun- Genesee biomonitoring program. The COPC are relatively stable, have the potential to accumulate, and are measurable in environmental media, such as water, soil, sediment and biota (plant and animal life of a region).

The baseline for the Biomonitoring program was established in 2004; since that time there have been two monitoring series (2006 and 2010). The results from that program show that throughout the area there are no changes in metal concentrations since the inception of the program and that the results obtained from the program are within the range of concentrations expected in environmental media.

The 2013 programs comprised air and surface water quality monitoring. The results of all sampling and monitoring are submitted to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, and the results of the Ambient Air Monitoring Program are posted on the website of the West Central Airshed Society.

Emissions from power generation, including nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), ozone and mercury, are monitored through an Acid Deposition, a Mercury Assessment and an Ambient Air Monitoring Program associated with the biomonitoring program.

We have been working with the Mercury Deposition Network of North America in establishing, at the Genesee Air Monitoring Station, one of only two mercury wet deposition monitors in Alberta. We have also worked with Environment Canada to reconstruct a multi-species mercury deposition assessment.

We continue working with regulators to ensure the programs comprised within the biomonitoring program continue to fulfil the intent of assessing cumulative impacts.

Wildlife Surveys

Wildlife biologists survey local bird, ungulate and amphibian populations. Our 2013 annual wildlife report included a vehicle-wildlife collision count, a peregrine falcon study and overwintering waterbirds surveys to monitor the population of ducks and geese on the Genesee Cooling Pond. Six ungulate and three ‘other wildlife’ vehicle collisions were reported in 2013.

The overwintering waterbirds program followed similar patterns as noted since 2001 with high numbers of waterbirds in fall and spring and relatively low numbers during the winters. Fewer than 2,000 waterbirds have been present overwintering on the cooling pond since 2007.

  • Every five years biologists compare the ungulate populations at Genesee to the surrounding Provincial Wildlife Management Units. In 2006 and 2010, the deer, elk and moose populations were found to be at comparable levels to those elsewhere in the region.

Falcons in the valley

As land services manager at our Genesee operations, George Greenhough is very familiar with the interplay of people and the environment.

George grew up on a farm near the Genesee facility, so he knows the land and its animals. One of these, the Peregrine falcon, was close to extinction; a breeding pair had not been seen in the North Saskatchewan River valley near Genesee since 1969.

The Genesee Generating Station has resident Peregrine falcons that return each year and breed. Many factors contributed to their successful return; one of these has been the partnerships the Genesee crews have cultivated with provincial wildlife experts. What started as the construction of a safe nesting area on the Genesee station's south stack has grown to include tracking, egg incubation and, in the summer of 2012, an opportunity to introduce chicks to two nearby river valleys. In 2013, four eggs were laid and hatched.

The story was captured for TV viewers by a crew from the Let's Go Outdoors program.

To watch the Genesee falcons in their nest box, check out

Wildlife monitoring

We monitor wildlife species composition and relative abundance, including species of management concern, to assist us in the responsible management of lands. Our operations do not affect any wildlife on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Red List species list.

Peregrine falcons have been returning annually to the Genesee Generating Station to nest since 1995. Each year, the baby falcons are banded so the population can be monitored.

Ducks released on Genesee cooling pond

Last winter, six ducks were released onto the Genesee cooling pond by the staff from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton. These ducks were found trapped in the ice on various lakes in the surrounding area during the first large snowstorm. There were one Bufflehead duck and five Lesser Scaup ducks. The cooling pond does not achieve 100% ice cover in the winter, which makes it a prime location to release rehabilitated waterfowl.

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