Sampling for Possible Microplastic Occurrence in the South Saskatchewan River
Project Goal and Funders
To date, there have been no studies on microplastics in the South Saskatchewan River watershed. The South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards (SSRWSI) received funding through the City of Saskatoon Environmental Grant and the Fish and Wildlife Development Fund to determine the presence or absence of microplastics in water sources: their type and quantities. This project will provide baseline data on microplastics in the South Saskatchewan River watershed helping inform future work and projects.
Partnering on this project are Dr. Markus Brinkmann, Assistant Professor School of Environment and Sustainability, and the Safe Drinking Water Foundation (SDWF). Dr. Brinkmann, his student, and the SSRWSI technician are undertaking the fieldwork and SDWF will be supplying additional communications and educational materials.
A plankton net was used to sample the water column at seven sample sites along the South Saskatchewan River within Saskatchewan, as well as three sites within the city and Beaver Creek Conservation Area. Sites funded by the City of Saskatoon will be sampled monthly from May through August while sites along the river funded by the Fish and Wildlife Development Fund will be sampled in May and possibly June.
On May 20th the first sampling occurred in Saskatoon at the Meewasin Northeast Swale, Aspen Ridge Forebay, Evergreen Stormwater Pond, and Beaver Creek Conservation Area. Thank you to the Meewasin Valley Authority for helping with access at several sites. The following day samples were taken upstream and downstream of Outlook and at the Fred Heal Canoe Launch near Saskatoon. On May 28th and 29th the first month of sampling was completed with sampling upstream and downstream of Cabri, at the Clarkboro Ferry crossing, and downstream of St. Louis.
In early September we concluded the sampling process for this year. Throughout the summer months, we were able to gain a better insight into our sampling procedures. Fieldwork rarely goes as planned and we did also encounter a few problems. Nevertheless, we were able to find creative solutions to keep going. If any other organization is about to undertake a similar study we are more than happy to share our experiences.
SSRWSI in the News
Sampling for microplastics has gained research prominence in recent years. Thus, it was no surprise that local media outlets were interested in reporting on our study. CBC Radio Saskatoon interviewed us twice and Global Saskatoon gave us a spot in the evening news. If you have missed this segment, don’t worry. Just follow this link to watch the segment again. We would like to thank CBC Radio and Global Saskatoon for giving us the opportunity to showcase our efforts and we hope that more attention will be paid to the growing single-use plastic problem.
SSRWSI YouTube Video
We created a time-lapse video of our microplastics sampling procedure on Instagram! In addition, we added some information on microplastics and what we hope to get out of our study! Enjoy! For the best video quality set your settings to HD!