There are tremendous efforts across Canada focused on extraction of valuable natural resources from oil sands mines, oil production sites, pits, and quarries. In Alberta alone, these activities are taking place over an area of at least 730,000 km2. Bitumen extraction from oil sands no doubt takes center stage when these issues are discussed, and are perceived to have a negative impact on water and soil quality, wildlife, and ultimately society. Regardless of the perception (and reality), it is indeed a fact that these sites must be reclaimed once an extraction site has been decommissioned.
The purpose of reclamation is to prevent, remove, control, and remedy any type of degradation of the surface and vegetation, which means returning the land to an ecologically functional state; the reclaimed site should be functionally similar to the original, undisturbed site. Due to the potential impact of these activities on the environment (and society) and the large scale over which these activities are taking place, environmental reclamation efforts will remain of utmost significance. Therefore, there is tremendous opportunity for innovation. The purpose of this research is to develop a new ground water quality monitoring system that will be capable of determining the concentration of species of interest in real time at reclamation sites.