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A new study will help assess the potential impact of shale gas development on local water quality.

In a contract awarded by the New Brunswick Energy Institute (NBEI), scientists at the Canadian Rivers Institute (CRI) will examine surface water conditions in areas of New Brunswick with the highest potential for shale gas exploration. They will map the inflows of groundwater to adjacent streams and chart current baseline water quality and aquatic species in areas of the province most likely to be of interest to shale gas developers.

"This baseline information will improve our ability to assess potential changes to surface water during or after development and it will address some important questions New Brunswickers have about shale gas exploration," commented Dr. David Besner, chair of the NBEI.

As part of their work, the CRI research team will develop and test methods to monitor potential contaminants from shale gas development, such as methane levels in streams. This is important for long-term monitoring programs and for identifying impacts on surface waters in the event of development.

The study will cost approximately C$350,000. All findings will be made available to the public.

University scientists on the research team include Dr. Allen Curry, Dr. Kerry MacQuarrie, Dr. Wendy Monk, Dr. David Armanini and Dr. Olivier Clarisse. They will be joined by University of New Brunswick and First Nations students.