The projects selected and displayed in this section are all directly linked with the company’s expertise and clearly show its capacity to carry out complex scientific and technical mandates.
Ecological Management and Environmental Engineering
Lairet River Restoration – Feasibility Study
Cartier-Brébeuf National Historic Site of Canada, Limoilou Borough
A recurring problem of algal bloom and odour proliferation in the park made it necessary to determine the restoration options for the rainstorm water detention pond. After a biological environment assessment, hydrological simulations and an analysis of the available possibilities, the option of recreating the Lairet River bed was selected. The proposed concept closely reproduced the natural processes of the mouth of the Lairet River, while retaining part of the cultural landscape and accounting for flash flooding. A development plan was proposed and partly implemented during the city of Québec’s 400th anniversary.
The restoration proposals had to incorporate a variety of factors and issues specific to urban environments, such as aesthetics and landscaping integration, within tight deadlines.
Hydrological and Hydrogeological Assessment – Direct-Shipping Iron Ore Project
Quebec and Labrador
To mine iron in a sustainable way, it is essential to be familiar with the movement, quantity and quality of surface and ground water. Groupe Hémisphères and its partner gathered all of the field data necessary to hydrologically and hydrogeologically assess the mining area. Drilling and pumping tests were carried out to determine the quality and quantity of the ground water. A network of piezometers was installed to find out the direction of the ground water flow. A network of calibrated canals and spillways was installed to calculate the flow of the main streams crossing the territory. Finally, meteorological stations were also used to measure local precipitation and the temperature. The data collected was compiled and processed using several hydrological and hydrogeological models to obtain a water assessment compliant with the requirements for conducting environmental impact assessments.
The weather assessment was then compared with other studies undertaken in the same area to evaluate its accuracy.
Kahnawake Mohawk Territory Shoreline Management Plan
This project provided a shoreline management plan for the territory. First, the 40 km of shoreline bordering the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Kahnawake Bay—from the mouth of the Châteauguay River to the origin of Tekakwitha Island—were characterized to assess their environmental value as well as their level of degradation. Secondly, the quality and biodiversity index of the riparian zone (stability, ecological integrity, presence of species with special status) was determined. Finally, the banks were classified and mapped according to their environmental value as well as their biophysical characteristics (natural, steep or not, disturbed or not, species with special status or not, protecting a fish habitat or not).
Environmental value classification is what made the shoreline management plan possible. Proposals outlining the development were made specifically for each type of bank identified. The proposals included the compatibility of project types with the riparian habitat, the recommended restoration work, as well as the erosion control measures to be taken. The environmental value assessment also enabled the identification of areas that should have a conservation status.
Detailed recommendations in favour of a regulation governing the use of the Kahnawake territory banks were also submitted.
The constant presence of a Kahnawake Environment Protection Service representative facilitated travelling within the territory and obtaining relevant information on the history and uses of the sites. Since the contract was awarded in early August, protocols had to be implemented as quickly as possible for the characterization of the banks to occur before the end of the periods favourable for each type of inventory, especially for the identification of plants. The distinctive considerations inherent to managing a native territory were also taken into account in the proposals for shoreline development and in legislation modifications.
Ecosystem Characterization and Cartography
Ecological Mapping and Ecosystem Inventory for Direct-Shipping Iron Ore Project
Quebec and Labrador
A proposed large-scale mining development in Quebec and Labrador required the ecological mapping of a territory of 190 km2. The necessary photointerpretation was achieved with the PurVIEW™ software (3D viewing). The mapping of surface deposits was also carried out with this technique. The validation of the mapping was achieved through ecosystem characterization, including a detailed inventory of physical characteristics, surface deposits, soils and vegetation. Nearly 400 inventory locations were visited. A search for threatened plant species was also conducted in the previously defined preferred habitats. A number of wildlife inventories (avifauna, large mammal and fish) were also completed along with the ecological mapping. This made it possible to associate the potential presence of different wildlife species with the geographical distribution of ecosystems. All of the inventories were conducted in partnership with an Innu or Naskapi guide. The mapping of ecosystems served as the backbone of the biophysical impact assessment. It allowed for more effective targeting of habitats and sensitive ecosystems and thus significantly reduced the project’s ecological footprint. From 2006 to 2008, a similar project was also undertaken for a different mining project in the same area and the same client. A total surface of 1800 km2 over a length of 600 km (pipeline and powerline) was mapped, along with the mining site, the site of the processing plant and the deep water port.
To carry out the inventories at the most suitable time, it was imperative that swift action be taken once the client had approved the proposed activities. Because of the project’s nordicity, meticulous logistics planning proved necessary for the field teams. The applicable laws and regulations of the two provinces and federal entities had to be reviewed in detail to prevent any interference with the acceptance of the impact assessment. Furthermore, a high degree of coordination was also vital since the project was executed in collaboration with another company specializing in the mapping of surface deposits. Finally, since no ecosystem mapping was available for this region, all of the ecosystems present had to be described exhaustively, including wetlands.
Wildlife and Floristic Inventory of Three Properties
At the request of the Department of National Defence (DND), a wildlife and floristic inventory was carried out on three federal properties with a total surface of 1,315 ha in the context of the Species at Risk Act. The inventory was primarily aimed at species designated at the federal level, but species designated at the provincial level were also taken into account. Using ecoforestry maps, databases on the species with a status in Quebec and Canada as well as a distribution range, the species to prioritize in the search were selected. The inventories conducted focused on the flora, the avifauna, mammals, the herpetofauna and insects. The characterization and mapping of the ecosystems was undertaken to achieve greater accuracy and find selected species more easily in the field. At the end of the characterization, an assessment of the environmental value of the different ecosystems present was performed. The reports also included ecological maps, an analysis of the applicable legislation and recommendations pertaining to the management and protection of at-risk species inventoried or potentially present.
A customized inventory protocol and the planning of visits were necessary given the territory’s traffic control. A prevention program and training for the DND were also necessary.
Housing Development – Wetland Delimitation and Floristic and Wildlife Inventories
To optimize the location of infrastructures being built while observing applicable legislation, a biological study of the elements that could potentially be affected by the project was carried out, in addition to the delimitation of the natural high-water line, the assessment of the potential presence of threatened wildlife and floristic species, and the characterization and mapping of ecosystems, including wetlands. Based on the data received, the developer decided to protect a wetland of high quality that could shelter certain threatened species.
City of Estérel Lake Health Assessment
City of Estérel
A comprehensive health analysis of the five lakes located in the territory of the city of Estérel was carried out. A summary ecological diagnosis was performed to determine the trophic status of these lakes. An inventory of all the grass beds was also conducted and involved characterizing the recovery percentage of each species present. The classification of banks was also performed and a photographic catalogue was created, enabling city officials to determine what bank works to perform next. A watershed assessment and the complete mapping of wetlands were also conducted. These studies gave the municipality a powerful management tool for the preservation and enhancement of the lakes and streams on its territory.
Davignon Lake Summary Diagnosis and Phosphorus Balance
In the summer of 2007, a cyanobacterial bloom problem was reported in Davignon Lake. Since the Cowansville municipality’s water intake is located in this lake, it was necessary to pinpoint the various nutrient sources to identify the causes of these cyanobacterial blooms.
The phosphorus balance was established, based on the theoretical quantities of phosphorus generated by each type of soil use and by the animal population. An analysis of the evolution of soil use over the last 20 years was also conducted using remote sensing. As a result, the subwatersheds generating the largest quantities of phosphorus were identified and corrective measures were proposed, allowing the municipality to rectify the situation.
Direct-Shipping Iron Ore Mining Project – Biophysical Parameters Evaluation and Related Environmental Impact Assessment
Quebec and Labrador
Several inventories were performed to gather the data necessary to describe the receiving environment and assess the environmental impacts. The inventoried environmental elements were: terrestrial ecosystems (populations, soils, surface geology, topography, floristic and wildlife habitats, species at risk), breeding and migratory birds, large mammals, aquatic environments (limnology, fish habitat and experimental fishing), hydrology and hydrogeology. A comprehensive analysis of existing data was also performed. Moreover, an assessment of biophysical impacts was conducted along with the determination of mitigation and compensation measures. Finally, the corresponding sections of the impact assessment were completed. To date, two impact assessments have been submitted : one in 2009 to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador that is been accepted, and the other in 2010 to the Kativik Environmental Quality Commission and the Government of Quebec that is been accepted in 2012.
Groupe Hémisphères was involved in drafting the impact assessment methodology and in choosing the parameters to use.
Saint-Robert-Bellarmin Wind Farm Environmental Impact Assessment
Saint-Robert-Bellarmin Municipality, Estrie
Groupe Hémisphères had to compile all the biophysical information of each site and conduct the necessary inventories: ecosystems, plants at risk, breeding and migratory birds, herpetofauna and bats. Inventory reports and their corresponding impact assessment sections were prepared.
The inventories required the coordination of a large field team and implementation of inventory and data collection quality controls to meet government protocol requirements.
Environmental Assessment of Boat Launch Ramp, Adjacent Parking and Quay Extension Construction Project
An environmental assessment had to be performed for a project to construct a boat launch ramp and adjacent parking, and to extend the existing quay. A fine bathymetric survey of an area encompassing 58,000 m2 of Lake Saint-Louis was conducted to completely cover the bay where the projects were proposed. Furthermore, inventories were taken at 20 locations to determine the substrate (sediment thickness and composition), aquatic vegetation and current, in order to accurately describe the fish habitat. The high-water line and entire aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems were delimited using a submetric DGPS device and drawn on a large scale map. This was achieved using both a sonar equipped with a two-frequency probe (50 and 200 hertz) capable of transmitting in a cone of 10 degrees, and an SXBlue II DGPS device allowing for precise code phase measures and the attenuation of multiple paths, offering planimetric positioning within 60 cm (2 dRMS with 95% reliability).
In some locations, navigating the shallow area of a large body of water required significant nautical expertise. The instruments and teams identified on the project estimate were adequately prepared in consideration of these factors.
Aerated Pond for Wastewater Treatment – Environmental Assessment of New Ponds and Outlet Extension Implementation
To increase the wastewater treatment capacity of the city of Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, aerated ponds needed to be built in a sensitive area containing several wetlands. Groupe Hémisphères performed the inventories needed to locate sensitive natural environments (wetlands, wildlife and floristic habitats). The ponds’ design was subsequently modified to minimize impacts on the natural environments. A series of mitigation measures was also proposed to minimize the impact of the pond and outlet construction. Compensatory measures such as the development of amphibian habitats were also proposed for impacts that could not be satisfactorily mitigated.
The study was well received by the Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs. As a result, the waiting period for obtaining a certificate of authorization was significantly reduced for the city.
Update of Applicable Activity Requirements of Hydro-Québec Distribution’s Environmental Management System
The legal and other requirements applicable to the 227 activities of Hydro-Québec Distribution’s Environmental Management System (EMS) were identified. A full review of the processes, sub-processes, activities, aspects, legislation as well as operational procedures and directives were required to master the company’s environmental system and its organization. Regular meetings were held with the environmental team to clarify certain points and to get each step of the mandate approved. During an analysis of the submitted documentation, some differences in the descriptions of activities, subactivities, aspects and impacts were found, resulting in an internal audit. The examination of an Excel spreadsheet containing more than 1,000 lines entailed a comprehensive subactivities analysis to ensure that the requirements applicable to similar subactivities were consistent.
A final report, which included a number of general and specific recommendations, was submitted using a database. This allowed the company to have a better assurance of a good management of its activities in accordance with applicable environmental regulations.
Use of Plant Materials in Agricultural Environment Riparian Areas – Current Situation in Quebec and Recommendations
The goal of this project was to report on the current state of the use and implementation of plant materials in Quebec’s riparian areas and agricultural lands. Data collection was conducted in three steps. First, a bibliographic search was performed to gather as much information as possible on the selected themes. The results were then used to develop a questionnaire which was used to survey practitioners. Topics for which little information was available were prioritized and the questionnaire was sent to approximately 70 stakeholders. Lastly, a validation workshop was held to assess and complete the information gathered through the questionnaire and literature review. The expertise of 26 participants was drawn upon on that day. A summary document was subsequently prepared, listing recommendations and relaying the available knowledge on the development and conservation of riparian areas in agricultural environments.
Even though a large quantity of information was generated during the collection of data, Groupe Hémisphères successfully summarized the content without losing any crucial information. The company also had the project’s milestones approved by an advisory committee composed of ten people from different backgrounds and it compiled the team’s comments to conclude the study.
Sanitation Survey, Soil Expertise, Plans and Specifications
Individual Septic Systems Inventory, Sanitary Report and Corrective Plan under the Programme d’aide à la prévention des algues bleu-vert (PAPA)
11 Quebec RCMs
Groupe Hémisphères characterized the septic systems of 2,765 properties as part of the PAPA program (program for the prevention of blue-green algae) financed by the Ministère des Affaires municipales, Régions et Occupation du territoire. The properties bordered 42 lakes spread across 31 municipalities. The working approach involved the exhaustive documentation of the properties’ characteristics, natural bottom and wastewater disposal system, in accordance with the MDDEP’s Guide de réalisation d’un relevé sanitaire (Guide for the development of sanitation reports). The information was compiled in a database capable of rapidly classifying the data. Furthermore, an interactive map allowing for the visualization of the database results was created.
The field team had to conduct a significant number of septic system characterizations in a relatively short timeframe (six months), and in numerous regions of Quebec. Compiling and verifying the data and developing maps and reports called for extensive planning and the implementation of a strict quality control program.
Comprehensive Characterization of Non-Compliant Septic Systems for Six Lakes within the City of Mont-Tremblant Territory
City of Mont-Tremblant
Groupe Hémisphères conducted a pilot project to comprehensively characterize the septic systems of more than 20 properties for the city of Mont-Tremblant, specifically focusing on phosphorous. The objective of the proposed work was to repair septic systems that were defective or posed a risk of phosphorus contamination for surface or ground water, in compliance with Regulation Q-2, r. 22 (formerly known as Q-2, r.8). The determination of surface water contamination relied on two elements: proof of hydraulic contact based on soil thickness before reaching the watertable, the basement rock or a confining bed (clay); chemical proof based on the quality of the ground water in terms of fecal coliforms and phosphorus concentration.
The late assignment of the mandate meant swift action was required. All of the city’s cases had to be analyzed before the field visits. Since ground water samples had to be taken after heavy precipitation, the team had to keep track of weather conditions on an ongoing basis and be prepared to go take samples at a moment’s notice.
Aquatic Environment Inventory for Direct-Shipping Iron Ore Project
Quebec and Labrador
A proposed large-scale mining development in Quebec and Labrador required the completion of comprehensive aquatic environment inventories to determine the quality of streams as well as the presence of fish habitats as defined by the Fisheries Act. An inventory of all waterways present in the watersheds affected by the mining project was performed, including bathymetric, sediment and water quality surveys which were conducted both in situ and in a laboratory. The morphological (slope, vegetation and substrate), biological (benthos) and physico-chemical characteristics of streams were also surveyed. In the end, experimental net and electric fishing was undertaken to confirm or exclude the presence of fish habitats. A full technical report intended for the different government authorities concerned was later prepared.
Quick mobilization proved necessary to perform the inventories at the most suitable time and to take the fishing season into account. Groupe Hémisphères meticulously planned the remote-area logistics for its field teams who worked in collaboration with native guides. The company also worked jointly with a firm specializing in experimental fishing to perform inventories and prepare reports.
Fish Habitat Characterization and Fishing for Wind Energy Project
An inventory of the fish habitat was performed in the streams surrounding the infrastructures, as part of a 42 MW wind energy project in St-Valentin. The physical characteristics of the streams (substrate, nature of the banks, vegetation, slope, flow velocity, etc.) and the physico-chemical quality of the water were surveyed. Experimental fishing was also done to determine the abundance and richness of the fish species. A complementary inventory was also carried out in the spring of 2010 to locate certain at-risk species that were potentially present in the wind farm’s streams.
Changes in the wind farm’s configuration required additional inventories to meet the requirements of the ministries.
Natural Environment Conservation Plan
Sampling and Monitoring Program – Water/Soil/Sediments
Characterization and Limnological Inventory of Kahnawake Mohawk Territory Freshwater Section
The limnological study focused on the Kahnawake Bay, which is the area connected to the St. Lawrence River, that is to say from the mouth of the Châteauguay River up to the tip of Tekakwitha Island, where the Bay and the seaway meet. The complete bathymetry of the Bay was performed using sonar. Approximately 300 depth measurements were recorded, with a precision of 0.1 metre. The velocity and direction of the current as well as the water’s transparency, temperature and turbidity were also measured by tracking 30 hydrological stations. Among the latter, eight were selected for monitoring water quality. Key limnological parameters were selected and surveyed, including nitrogen, phosphorus, dissolved organic carbon and fecal coliforms. This data was collected at three different moments during summer: once under normal conditions (several days without precipitation) and twice after significant amounts of precipitation. The environmental characterization of water, including an analysis of heavy metals and hydrocarbons, was performed following a period of heavy precipitation.
The complete characterization of the sediments was also conducted to start collecting data in order to document the human health risks posed by swimming and boating activities. Sediment thickness was measured at the 30 hydrological stations and their nature and ratio of organic material were also assessed. Four of these stations were the subject of an environmental characterization. Heavy metals and hydrocarbons were analyzed. The results were compared with different federal and provincial criteria, as well as with data from Environment Canada stations (GISE database) located in nearby Lake Saint-Louis.
An analysis of the data collected provided a portrait of the quality and contamination of the water and sediments. Several thematic maps were prepared, simplifying the synthesis and comprehension of the extensive data collected. Recommendations concerning the Bay’s use by residents and quality monitoring measures were provided.
Since the contract was awarded in early August, the protocols had to be implemented as quickly as possible to allow the inventories to be performed before the end of the most suitable periods. Since the water quality inventory was dependant on the meteorological conditions, the sampling team had to regularly keep track of meteorological conditions and be prepared to survey the water at a moment’s notice, even on weekends.
Hydrological Study and Watercourse Management
The RMC of Bellechasse requires that municipalities hire engineers to measure the culverts needing to be replaced on its territory. As such, Groupe Hémisphères is carrying out the sizing of culverts for the RCM of Bellechasse. For complex cases, comprehensive plans and estimates are submitted. The approach is based on the rational method of the Ministère des Transports du Québec (Quebec’s department of transportation). An analysis of the watershed of the stream is performed up to the work site. A field inventory, which lists the stream’s characteristics and the biological conditions at the work site, is then completed. Groupe Hémisphères’ approach is to recommend the most practical solutions with the least impact on streams to municipalities.
Rainwater Management Plan and Erosion Control
Surface Runoff Quality Monitoring Report and Restoration or Development Corrective Measures
City of Estérel
While carrying out a study on the lakes in the city’s territory, Groupe Hémisphères raised the issue of a large quantity of sediments making their way to the lakes through paths and trenches. As a result, the city of Estérel decided to monitor surface runoff.
An inspection of the municipality’s natural and road drainage revealed the main problem areas that could damage the quality of the water and the health of lakes. A series of maps showing the location of problematic areas was subsequently produced.
A technical guide on the necessary corrective measures was later published. It was intended, more specifically, for the Public Works Department to allow them to determine the developments needed to fix the drainage problems. Groupe Hémisphères also organized a one-day training course for Public Works employees.
An innovative method was developed by Groupe Hémisphères. The bulk of the project was therefore devoted to the research and development of an inventory methodology and data analysis method.
Implementation of the Regulation for Water Withdrawal and Protection