Services Rendered:

EFDC Hydrodynamic Model

ADCP Data Processing

Sediment Transport Study

Water Quality Modeling

Environmental Impacts

Technical Training


Alberta Environment & Water, Canada


George Wang

Environmental Monitoring and Science Division, AEP

Dates of Performance:

July 2018 – July 2019

Status of Project:


The Lower Athabasca River (LAR) is the major river flowing through the oil sands region in Alberta, Canada.  AEP needed a planning tool for managing water quality on the LAR.  DSI has supported two phases in modeling the LAR.  This current phase involved building an EFDC+ model for a domain that was extended to cover the main channel and 10-year floodplain from the Athabasca River upstream of Fort McMurray to the Athabasca River near Old Fort.  A reconstruction of model grid was made using the high-resolution bathymetry and LiDAR data. A 2D vertically averaged model for the LAR was set up in such a way that it includes all major tributaries and point source effluents and has the capability to simulate instream dynamic processes of hydrodynamics, sediment transport, water quality, bed sediment quality, toxic contaminant fate and transport (lead, naphthalene, phenanthrene) in both water column and river bed.

The model was successfully calibrated and validated over a multi-year period, 2000-2016.  The calibrated model was then used to simulate several scenarios of water management in the Lower Athabasca River to demonstrate the abilities of the developed model.  Scenarios simulated included WWTP effluent water quality improvement.  A habitat analysis for fish species was also performed.  The model can be used as a tool for analysis of the impacts of future development on the water quality in the main stem of the LAR.