Phosphorus Testing in Lakes and Rivers Flowing into the Saskatchewan River

In 2019 a collaboration of watershed stewardship groups including South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards (SSRWSI), Carrot River Valley Watershed Association, North Sask River Basin Council and Swift Current Creek Watershed Stewards received funding to gather baseline phosphorus data for waterways that flow into the South Saskatchewan River system. The undesirable effects of increased phosphorus in water systems include; decreased biodiversity, a decline in ecologically sensitive species, an increase in invasive species, increased biomass, increased turbidity, anoxic conditions which cause increased growth of algae.

The delivery of phosphorus to Canada’s surface waters occurs via natural and human inputs (Nutrients and Their Impact on the Canadian Environment). Human inputs include:

  • runoff from land cleared for agriculture, especially where fertilizers and manure have been applied in quantities that exceed nutritional requirements of crops
  • runoff from forestry and urban expansion
  • industrial emissions to soils and water (e.g. pulp and paper and mining)
  • municipal and household wastewater discharge, including septic systems
  • windblown dust from bare soils

This work aims to increase public knowledge and engagement of water quality and water quality issues in the South Saskatchewan River watershed. The SSRWSI volunteers will start sampling at first thaw, sample weekly during peak flow, and continue monthly through October!