The streambank erosion that threatens the Îles-de-la-Madeleine is not the only impact of climate change which will face the Islanders : the drinking water resources are also called to decrease.
The rise in the level of the oceans, combined with the erosion of the banks, will increase salt-water intrusion in the soil of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, a global phenomenon linked to climate change, which affects the island territories and that also affects the coastal territories, ” explains Alexandre Bénard, finishing the bachelor’s degree in geology at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi (UQAC).
In the framework of its project of end of studies, the student is originally from the Îles-de-la-Madeleine is interested in the impact of climate change in current of the next 100 years on the drinking water resources of this archipelago in the gulf of St. Lawrence.
In the absence of rivers and lakes on the dozens of islands in the archipelago, the only supply of drinking water possible to the population and the numerous tourists who visit the Îles-de-la-Madeleine passes through the ground water, fed by the rainfall received.
“Below the water drinking water, there is salt water, so most of the sea level will rise, the more this interface – the boundary between salt water and fresh water, will go up […]. If the interface between the two waters are rising, obviously, there is less and less fresh water, ” stresses the student, in an interview with The Daily, in the company of Romain Chesnaux, professor of Earth sciences and civil engineering at the UNIVERSITY, who has proposed this research project in hydrogeology.
Romain Chesnaux, professor of Earth sciences and civil engineering at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi and Alexandre Bénard, finishing the bachelor’s degree in geology, working on a research project aimed to estimate the impact of climate change on drinking water resources of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, in the current of the next 100 years.
THE QUOTIDIEN ROCKET LAVOIE
This issue has the attention of the student, who grew up on the island of la Pointe aux Loups, and which sees the territory madelinot be transformed under the impact of climate change. The storm of November last, which has paralyzed the networks of communication, has been particularly marked in the Islands, ” he says.
“Coastal erosion during this storm, it is almost a never-before-seen. It did wake everyone up to the fact that the impacts of climate change are real […]. Recently, it becomes more and more palpable. “
In order to estimate the loss of fresh water resource that the Îles-de-la-Madeleine are called to suffer, Alexandre Bénard considering various climate change scenarios, using a mathematical model developed in 2015 by Romain Chesnaux and his team.
The mathematical equation, which allows to estimate the dynamics of the rise of saline water and loss of fresh water, takes into account various physical, geological, and climate. “It was just stayed in the field of theoretical and with the project Îles-de-la-Madeleine, we can really put it in application to a concrete case “, said professor Chesnaux.
The preliminary results of the model, which apply to the whole of the archipelago, are currently compared to the results of the modeling on the intrusion of salt water in the soil, carried out by professor Jean-Michel Lemieux, Laval University, for the island of Great Input.
The results should be known in the coming months, and other research avenues are being considered to continue the study of this phenomenon.
Alexandre Bénard, finishing the bachelor’s degree in geology at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi, and Romain Chesnaux, professor of Earth sciences and civil engineering, are working on a research project aimed at assessing the impact of climate change on drinking water resources of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine during the next 100 years.
THE QUOTIDIEN ROCKET LAVOIE
THE PRESSURE FROM TOURISM TO CONSIDER
The strong pressure exerted on the drinking water in the Îles-de-la-Madeleine during the tourist season, in a context where its fresh water resources will be affected by climate change, poses a problem on which decision-makers will have to address, ” said professor Romain Chesnaux.
Tourism is the second sector in importance to the economy madelinoise. The archipelago, which has about 13 000 inhabitants living on a territory of around 200 km2, has hosted 78 500 visitors between may and October 2018, according to the balance sheet goodwill published this fall by Tourisme Îles-de-la-Madeleine.
The popularity of this tourist destination continues unabated, while the number of visitors has been constantly increasing since a few years. In 2018 only, the increase was 7 %. There is not so long ago, during the tourist seasons of 2010-2012, the ridership was estimated to be about 60 000 visitors.
“[The tourism] puts additional pressure on the water resource, therefore, currently, the Islands can receive tourists, but in 20 years, 30 years, if the tourism explodes […], the decision-makers are asking themselves : “If we develop tourism even more, is that we will be able to support the water demand ?” “, expresses the professor in Earth sciences and civil engineering at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi.
The research conducted on the impact of climate change, the erosion of the banks and the rise in the level of the oceans, the reduction of fresh water resources of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine, potentially able to guide elected officials and community stakeholders in their decision-making in order to preserve the resource, ” said Mr. Chesnaux.
Dry summer of 2017
During the summer of 2017, which was particularly dry, the municipality of Îles-de-la-Madeleine had reached in July its maximum capacity of pumping on the water systems of the archipelago, a situation which had already occurred in previous years. Last summer, the municipality has launched an awareness campaign in order to preserve the resource during the tourist period.
The research project on which works Alexandre Bénard, finishing the bachelor’s degree in geology, has for the moment no account of the water consumption of tourists during the summer season. This data could however be easily adjusted in the mathematical model used.