GIS Development to Facilitate Water Quality Management Planning

GIS Development to Facilitate Water Quality Management Planning

Vale is a Brazilian mining company with operations in 35 countries including Canada, and has more than 100,000 employees. Vale has been operating in Sudbury, Ontario for more than 100 years (formerly as Inco) and owns a large number of active and inactive nickel mine properties, along with ore processing and smelting facilities.

Vale retained the consulting team of Stantec Consulting Limited and Burnside to assist with the development of a Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP) for its Sudbury area properties. Vale monitors the water quality at their active and inactive properties and a large volume of both groundwater and surface water quality data have been obtained. The approach adopted for the development of a WQMP was to compile all of the available information and to incorporate site plans, aerial photography, topographic mapping, geology, drainage and water quality data into a Geographic Information System (GIS) and a stand alone Microsoft Access Database. The goal was to provide the means by which Vale’s extensive water quality information can be easily accessed, analyzed and used as part of Vale’s on-going water management activities to protect, maintain and improve the environmental conditions of water bodies affected by mining operations.

Burnside was responsible for the GIS database development and mapping to facilitate hazard screening, giving Vale access to a comprehensive database acting as the sole source for historic and current water quality data. The database has been standardized, where all parameters and units are reported in a consistent manner. The water quality data can be linked to spatial features representing sampling locations in a GIS environment, providing the option to quickly query the records for specific information, review changes to water quality over time, and produce reports and maps that convey the scientific data to Vale, environmental regulators and members of the local community.

Services Provided

  • Mapping Data Warehouse (containing both raster and vector datasets based on several sources of external data)
  • Standardized Water Quality Sample Inventory Database (for more than 6,400 sampling events and more than160,000 water chemistry results based on several sources of external data)
  • Classification, Description and Associate Screening Standards
  • Spatial and Non-Spatial Database Queries (to identify locations as a potential hazard to the natural environment based on established parameters accepted by the scientific community)
  • GIS Mapping Environment (providing easy access to the various sources of data)


GIS Development to Facilitate Water Quality Management Planning    GIS Development to Facilitate Water Quality Management Planning

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