We are back out to sample water for Phosphorus in creeks that flow into the South Saskatchewan River as part of a two-year project funded by Environment and Climate Change Canada. Samples were collected weekly throughout May and will now be done once a month until freeze up. Phosphorus is a nutrient that supports plants and animals in the aquatic food web but can contribute to algal blooms and low concentrations of oxygen in water bodies. We are interested in measuring the phosphorus levels to better understand the concentrations and how that relates to flow.
Last year, there were four water samples collected in each of the Beaver, Opimihaw, and Fish Creeks (see table below). The Prairie Provinces Water Board provides a summer guideline for Total Phosphorus (TP) for the South Saskatchewan River of 0.246 mg/L (2015). Most samples collected were below guideline levels. In 2019 we did not have the ability to measure flow and can not draw conclusions using Total Phosphorus (TP) levels alone. Sometimes small volumes of water may be higher in nutrients but contribute very little volume to the larger system. For example, low flow in Opimihaw Creek could contribute to higher concentrations of TP but little to no contribution of nutrients to the river. This year a flow meter was purchased and that added data which will give us more context for our results in 2020.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we have only one volunteer taking all our samples, so as not to have to share equipment between volunteers. As well, two of our sites now have restricted access. Thank you to Renny Grilz with Meewasin Valley Authority for volunteering to look after all three of our sampling sites!
Last year’s sampling results for July- October were:
Reference: PPWB. 2015. Review of the 1992 Interprovincial Water Quality Objective and Recommendations for Change. Technical Report #174. PPWB Committee on Water Quality. Regina, Saskatchewan. https://www.ppwb.ca/uploads/media/5c817677b4579/ppwb-report-b-review-of-the-interprov-wq-obj-recomm-for-change-en.pdf?v1