MAML sniffs St. Albert
Crew tests area to determine best location for air monitoring system
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Saturday, Jan 26, 2013 06:00 am
A great white MAML prowled St. Albert this week as part of the city’s efforts to track the state of its air.
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development’s Mobile Air Monitoring Laboratory (MAML) was spotted sampling air around the Lacombe Park Reservoir on Monday and Tuesday. The vehicle, which is a white RV packed with scientific instruments, was in town to help the province find the best place for the city’s new air quality monitoring station.
St. Albert doesn’t have its own air quality monitoring station, said Jeff Yanew, the city’s environmental co-ordinator, which makes it tough to judge local conditions during forest fires. Last summer, the province announced plans to build a station in the city to enhance its coverage.
The MAML is here to scout out the best place for that station, explained Shea Beaton, its operator. There’s only one MAML in Alberta, and it last came to town in 2005 to do an air quality survey.
The MAML sucks in air through a tiny steel tube on its roof, Beaton explained, and runs it through a series of analyzers to detect about 16 different pollutants. A two-storey extensible mast lets it measure wind speed.
A good monitoring site must meet several criteria, Beaton explained. “We don’t want certain elements that will bias the data.”
That means the station can’t be near major roads like St. Albert Trail (as they’re heavily polluted), the river valley (as it acts as a funnel for pollution), soon-to-be-developed sites (as construction kicks up pollutants) or heavy forest (as trees emit volatile organic compounds, a pollutant). The site also has to be secure and powered.
The city and the province have flagged two possible sites for the station, said Jeff Yanew, city environmental co-ordinator.
Plan A is to put it in between the Lacombe Park Reservoir and the Lacombe Clubhouse. It’s a highly visible, secure site, Yanew noted, and close enough to schools to be used for teaching purposes.
Plan B would see the station set up by Fountain Park Pool. Both sites would be subject to public and council approval, Yanew said.
The station itself will look like a small Atco trailer, Beaton said. In other words, a metal box.
The city hopes to start construction of the station this summer, Yanew said, with a grand opening set for summer 2014. “Hopefully, we’re already starting to collect data by that time.”
The MAML will be back next week for more sampling around Fountain Park Pool, Beaton said.
Questions should go to Yanew at 780-418-6615.
Sturgeon survey says …
River watchers should come to St. Albert Place next week if they want to learn the results of a recent Sturgeon-wide survey.
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology’s (NAIT) Sturgeon River Research Project is presenting the results of its recent online survey on the state of the Sturgeon River watershed next Wednesday.
The survey, launched last May, asked residents how they felt the Sturgeon watershed had changed over the last 50 years and how it should best be used.
Respondents placed high value on the aesthetic appeal of the river, said Laurie Hunt, NAIT biologist and co-founder of the research project, as well as its ecological and recreational use. Bird watching had become more common in the last 15 years, the survey suggested, while most other outdoor activities had fallen off.
Hunt invited anyone interested in the Sturgeon to come to one of the group’s three open houses to learn more about the survey’s results.
The first is at the Onoway Museum in Onoway on Wednesday from 1 to 3 p.m. The second is in the third floor east boardroom of St. Albert Place that same day from 7 to 9 p.m.
A third open house will be held at the Sturgeon County office in Morinville on Feb. 4 from 1 to 3 p.m.
Guests are asked to RSVP to Jöel Gervais at firstname.lastname@example.org.