Monitoring Priority Area Update

Kelly Munkittrick

Kelly Munkittrick
Director, Monitoring Priority Area

The theme for Monitoring this year is “alignment.”

Last year we completed an inventory of all monitoring activities undertaken outside of the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring (JOSM) Program by industry. We will be looking for ways to reduce overlap and redundancy across programs and align monitoring activities across companies, with the goal of increasing the efficiency of monitoring in the oil sands region and reducing unnecessary costs.

In the first quarter of this year, we will be continuing our work developing triggers to tell us when a JOSM monitoring result is significant enough to require evaluation. We have been working with monitoring groups across the country to evaluate the different approaches monitoring programs are taking to answer the question, “How much change in a monitoring signal is big enough that it warrants further attention?”

So far, we have been working on triggers for historical data collected from the Regional Athabasca Monitoring Program (RAMP) for benthos, fish and water quality. This coming year, we will start looking at which land and air monitoring studies are amenable to triggers. There can be a lot of “noise” across some of these areas and what we want to know is how we can develop triggers that cut through that noise and focus attention on the signals that are important. 

I’ve also been working with the other Environmental Priority Area (EPA) Directors to determine what their priority needs are related to monitoring. Measurement of environmental performance ideally will come from JOSM or external research. To do that we need to know how monitoring can support COSIA’s quantification of environmental performance and how we can quantify the benefits from all of the work carried out through the EPAs.

So much of the external academic research currently underway focuses on issues we already know a lot about; there is a need to broaden the focus of external research to the priority needs to ensure we have the most comprehensive monitoring system possible. I’ll be taking this information and using it to conduct a course on priority research areas at the COSIA Innovation Summit in Banff, March 31 to April 2, 2015.

More on how that goes in the next issue of Collaborator.