World's Leading Freshwater Research Facility, the ELA, Needs YOUR Support!

Help keep the world’s water supplies clean and free of pollutants by contributing to vital scientific research and training at the Experimental Lakes Area.
International Institute for Sustainable Development
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Winnipeg, Manitoba
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June 18 update: A huge thanks to everyone for helping us to surpass our fundraising goal! We are now busy working on fulfilling the perks and look forward to sending them to donors! The campaign is now closed, but if you would still like to help, please consider donating through Canada Helps:


The Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) is a freshwater research facility in Northwestern Ontario, Canada that has operated as a government research program for over 45 years. After the Canadian Government announced that it would no longer fund the ELA program, operations were transferred to the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in April 2014. IISD now needs additional funding to expand ELA’s vital legacy of research so that it can continue to find effective solutions to environmental problems affecting fresh water.

We can thank the ELA for many of the improvements we have seen in recent years to the quality of the water we use daily. ELA’s whole-lake research findings have been instrumental in the phase-out of harmful phosphorus additives in cleaning products, tightening air pollution standards in response to acid rain threats, and proposed installation of scrubbers inside industrial smokestacks to reduce mercury levels found in the fish we eat.

The ELA features a collection of 58 small lakes, as well as a facility with accommodations and laboratories. Since its establishment in 1968, ELA has become one of the world’s most influential freshwater research facilities. In part, this is because of the globally unique ability at ELA to undertake whole-ecosystem experiments.

There is nowhere else in the world that has the same potential to conduct this type of research and make such a positive impact on our world’s freshwater supplies.

What We Need

Now we need your support.

As IISD takes over the Experimental Lakes Area, initial funding has been secured to manage the facilities and conduct a minimum amount of research, and for this we are grateful.  It is our goal, however, to rebuild the program to its former status and to help it expand and thrive. We are also striving to reduce the ELA’s reliance on government support so that it may never again be shuttered because of changes in policy. This will help us understand and address global freshwater challenges and communicate what we have learned to improve understanding, education and decision making.

Your generous donations will help us create and benefit from numerous educational and training opportunities for university students at the ELA. 

The ELA offers great potential for the scientists and researchers of tomorrow to garner hands-on research experience and gain practice in driving and conducting research projects. In turn, the facility benefits immensely from the hard work and research generated by summer students.

As part of the new era for ELA that IISD is ushering in, we plan to expand its role to include training, workshops and field courses that will educate and benefit local communities, as well as the greater scientific community.

Charitable tax receipts can be issued for donations over $25 (minus the fair market value of the perk).

If you wish to donate without receiving a perk, please consider donating through Canada Helps

Other Ways You Can Help

There are many ways for you to help ensure the ELA reaches its maximum potential to research and educate. If you are unable to make a financial contribution, you can still help us out by:

  • Sharing information about our Indiegogo campaign and the work that ELA does with your networks and your social media followers.  You can also use Indiegogo Share Tools.
  • Volunteering some time to help us with our Indiegogo campaign at our Winnipeg office.

To learn more about how you can help the campaign, please contact Karla at

Find This Campaign On
raised by 324 people in 2 months
114% funded
No time left
$25,000 CAD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on June 13, 2014
Select a Perk
  • $15CAD
    Tweet from IISD

    We will tell the world you care about freshwater science! A thank you will be tweeted from our IISD Twitter account. Please provide us with your twitter handle if you wish.

    29 out of 1000 claimed
  • $35CAD
    Experimental Lakes Area magnet

    You will receive a fridge magnet, made of recycled materials, with a picture representing the ELA.

    62 out of 1000 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $50CAD
    Signed postcard of the ELA

    You will receive a postcard addressed to you and signed by a range of both ELA and IISD staff, thanking you for your support. Postcards are printed on eco-friendly paper.

    10 out of 500 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $60CAD
    Photo of your photo at the ELA

    We'd love it if everyone could visit the ELA, but the research site is so remote it's not always possible. However, if you send us an electronic photo of you, we will take a photo of your photo with Lake 239 in the background and email it to you. Lake 239 is an ELA lake for which there is one of the longest-running data sets. Photos must not be offensive.

    5 out of 500 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $75CAD

    A T-shirt proclaiming that you support the ELA, made of eco-friendly material.

    66 out of 1000 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $100CAD
    Sponsor a plankton count

    It costs roughly $100 to count the plankton caught in a single sample. Help the scientists understand what is living in the water by sponsoring this activity.

    27 out of 300 claimed
  • $300CAD
    “Borrow a Scientist”

    The ELA has a network of experts on a wide range of freshwater topics, including nutrient loading, mercury loading, nanoparticles, endocrine disruptors and climate change. For $300, you can borrow a scientist from our "talking library" and have an in-person or virtual talk with a scientist on one of these topics. Depending on the scientist you "borrow," a lab tour or other bonuses may be included.

    4 out of 25 claimed
  • $400CAD
    ELA Supporter's Package

    You will receive a package of ELA materials, including a tweet from IISD, a magnet, a postcard, a photo of your photo at Lake 239, a sponsored fish and a T-shirt.

    4 out of 100 claimed
    Estimated delivery: September 2014
  • $1,000CAD
    Visit IISD's Winnipeg office

    Enjoy a presentation on "ELA: Past, present and future" at the IISD office in Winnipeg with 3-6 IISD/ELA staff and retired ELA scientists. Afterwards, enjoy discussion over sustainably sourced coffee, tea and snacks and a tour of the Winnipeg office. You will also receive the ELA Supporter's package. This perk must be redeemed in the winter as ELA scientists are at the research facility during much of the spring, summer and fall. Donors must make their own way to Winnipeg.

    1 out of 10 claimed
  • $2,000CAD
    Spot in group tour of the ELA

    You will receive one of five spots for day tour of the ELA on a pre-arranged date (to be determined in consultation with donors once the campaign is closed). Donor will be picked up in Kenora and visit the ELA camp and several lakes. Lunch will be provided. Participants must arrange their own travel to Kenora and accommodation there and have appropriate health/travel insurance, if applicable. You will also receive a T-shirt.

    0 out of 5 claimed
  • $15,000CAD
    Tour of the ELA

    You and up to 3 guests can have a tour of the ELA, including two overnights and travel from Winnipeg (MB), Kenora (ON) or Dryden (ON). You sleep where the scientists sleep, eat what the scientists eat (tasty food in the cafeteria where collegiality is common) and get to see the scientists working on the lakes. You must arrange your own transportation to Winnipeg, Kenora or Dryden (and have appropriate health/travel insurance, if applicable). You will also receive T-shirts.

    0 out of 3 claimed
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