Ontario Government Boosts Experimental Lakes Area Research

$9.5 million investment for research facility supports transition to clean economy

April 14, 2022

KENORA – The Ontario government is investing $9.5 million to support vital research in the Experimental Lakes Area—the only freshwater research facility of its kind in the world.

“The Experimental Lakes Area is the world’s most important freshwater research facility,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry. “The area is a living laboratory for critical research and scientific study that sustains healthy ecosystems for future generations. Our government is proud to invest in facilities such as these so that we can expand understanding of the critical changes in ecology over time, and continue our work building Ontario.”

The five-year agreement will ensure the facility can continue its important work, including:

  • Implementation of an acid rain recovery program for the Sudbury region
  • Actions to address phosphorus in inland lakes and the Great Lakes
  • Efforts to address the effects of mercury emissions from coal-fired plants in Ontario and the U.S.

The Ontario government is also providing $180,000 through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) to the International Institute for Sustainable Development – Experimental Lakes Area (IISD-ELA) to produce design drawings and cost estimates for a potential new building at the site.

The Experimental Lakes Area is a world-renowned freshwater research facility in Northwestern Ontario. The area attracts scientists from around the world who conduct research into pollution reduction, climate change strategies, and the protection of freshwater ecosystems. This research is used to develop protective strategies for lakes and rivers in Ontario and around the world.

Quick Facts

  • The Experimental Lakes Area was established in 1968 as a unique research facility encompassing 58 freshwater lakes and their watersheds, totalling 270 square kilometres approximately 50 kilometres southeast of Kenora.
  • Ontario has provided a total of $16 million in support to the Experimental Lakes Area since taking over responsibility for it in 2014.


“Our government is taking firm action to protect and preserve Ontario’s water supply – now, and for future generations. This investment is a testament to our commitment to protect lakes, rivers, and groundwater across our province. The freshwater science and research that is continuing in the Experimental Lakes Area in Northern Ontario is a vital part of this work.”

– David Piccini
Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks

“IISD Experimental Lakes Area is truly Ontario’s scientific gem, and we are thrilled to receive this critical support to help us continue to safeguarding the world’s freshwater. Collaborating with everyone from local communities to national industries, we’re working to discover what impacts the health of fresh water—from microplastics to oil spills—and how we can effectively protect it.”

– Matthew McCandless
Executive Director, IISD Experimental Lakes Area

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