lLester B. Pearson was starting his final two weeks as Prime Minister and the Burlington Mall officially opened when the only Canadian government-operated research ship on the Great Lakes first hit the water in 1968.
It was christened in Port Weller on April 6 of that year.
Now Limnos, a 44-metre-long vessel tied up at the Canada Centre for Inland Waters (CCIW) on Burlington Bay, is celebrating 50 years of service in helping clean up the Great Lakes.
“I’m quite proud of my ship,” Commanding Officer Travis Borchuk said. “We’re trying our best to celebrate its longevity and all the work it has done for us.”
For one thing the ship is flying two flags, which in the language of code signals, signifies the number 50.
The Great Lakes supplies fresh drinking water for almost 30 million people who live around them. They contain 20 per cent of the world’s supply of fresh water.
Limnos assists with research in all the Great Lakes, except Lake Michigan which has no Canadian border.
It has a good-sized laboratory for water testing, as well as filtration equipment. It has enough room to accommodate a crew of 16, plus another 13 scientists.
It also has a full galley, two mess areas for people to eat and a full cooking staff.
Scientists on the Limnos take chemical and organic particle density measurements at five depths of the lakes – one metre below the surface, six metres below the surface, a third just above the thermal layer, a fourth just below that in the under lake and finally one on the bottom.
Limnos gets her name from the word ‘limnology’ which is the division of hydrology that studies inland waters, including their biological, physical, chemical, geological and hydrological aspects.
The Halton Region Public Health Department also monitors recreational water quality at Burlington Beach between June 5 and Aug. 30 and posts the results online.
Water is sampled for E. coli and total coliform. Water samples are collected weekly and tested for E coli and total coliform. Results are posted to the Swim Guide website as soon as lab results are available.
For the most part beach warnings occur following a heavy rain
On the negative side the Randle Reef, near the Dofasco and Stelco steel plants, is the most contaminated site within the Canadian side of the Great Lakes. Its sediment remediation project involves construction of a 6.2-hectare engineered containment facility (ECF) on top of a portion of the most contaminated sediment, then dredging and placing the remaining contaminated sediment in the facility.
Derek Beech, a scientist at CCIW, said the monthly average water level for Lake Ontario in May was 24 centimetres above average, but still 54 centimetres below the average for May of 2017. Because of heavy rainfalls, May, 2017, set an all-time record for water levels and there was virtually no beach in Burlington.
Limnos currently is undergoing a re-fit but is expected to go out into the lake in July to lift and refurbish scientific moorings for Environment Canada. Some of the moorings stay in the water all winter.
Earllier, in the spring, its mission was to conduct an inspection of navigation markers, which takes place every five years. The markers indicate safe navigable channels for commercial vessels. For example, the water in the Burlington Canal is somewhere in the range of 10 to 12 metres deep.
Limnos also has been involved in a few search and rescue operations which had successful conclusions.
A native of Hay River in the Northwest Territories, Borchuk attended the Canadian Coast Guard College in Sydney, N.S., for four years, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Science. His education was completely paid for by the government with a guarantee of a job upon graduation.
Established in 1967, CCIW accommodates over 600 staff from Environment Canada (EC), the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.