Participatory water quality monitoring in the Athabasca Basin, Canada

Categories: Community, Environment, Ethical Business, Management Tags: ,


The Athabasca Working Group (AWG) is a partnership established to implement an impact management agreement between local communities and uranium mining companies with operations in northern Saskatchewan, Canada. The AWG has a key role in addressing local concerns about potential environmental impacts of mining on the environment, including water quality, and ensures that the uranium mining industry maintains a positive working relationship with the local residents. The AWG comprises representatives from each of the seven communities within a 200km radius of the uranium mine sites and the two uranium mining companies (namely Areva and Cameco Corporation). The AWG programs are funded by the mining companies.

The AWG has established a community-based environmental monitoring program that assesses many parameters important to local residents, with a focus on local water quality and compares it to both reference locations and water quality guidelines. One of the most important elements of the program is that local residents take part  in the sample collections each year, and it is independent of government and industry environmental monitoring.  The program enables community members to collect their own environmental samples at the locations that are of most concern to them, which encourages data acceptance and promotes environmental protection, ensuring that water quality standards are maintained.

Quarterly meetings are held where AWG community representatives meet with personnel from the companies to review reports, discuss current community concerns and update the communities on exploration and mining activities and projects in the area. The AWG is part of a larger context of northern community relations undertaken by the uranium mining industry in northern Saskatchewan.

Key issue

Community concerns regarding potential pollution of water resources

Collaborative solutions

  • Formation of a multi-stakeholder group including representatives from two mining companies and seven local communities
  • Collective environmental monitoring program established