Tagging and Tracking Trash in Saskatoon

Tagging Trash in the South Saskatchewan River

SSRWSI is excited to announce that we are the recipient of the City of Saskatoon’s Environmental Grant 2022. Through our 2020 Microplastics Project, which was partly funded by the City of Saskatoon Environmental Grant, we were able to suggest that microplastics are present in the South Saskatchewan River. Research suggests that microplastics can have negative impacts on aquatic species. One solution to the problem is to stop plastics from entering water sources. Therefore, the main goal of this project is to track plastics in the Saskatoon area of the South Saskatchewan River and to educate residents on ways to reduce plastic pollution. We aim to utilize a trash tracking app (OpenLitterMap) to engage Saskatoon citizens in the tracking process. This app enables citizens to map and share data on plastic pollution. In addition, we will partner with Living Sky Adventures, a company that offers standup paddle (SUP) tours. The “Balance on the Water” Tour gives participants the option to utilize citizen science water quality testing kits. Thus, Carrie Hildebrand, the company owner, agreed to partner with us to also utilize trash tracking apps with her clients. Carrie is on the river weekly with her clients on SUPs and experiences firsthand the amount of trash in the river.

We also want to encourage Saskatoon citizens to be part of this project and are planning to host a trash tracking contest. Residents will have the opportunity to use the OpenLitteMap App to record the litter they see either in their neighborhoods or in/along the South Saskatchewan River. We would like to award prizes (purchased from Saskatoon businesses) to people who tracked the most trash over the summer months. The contest will also give us the opportunity to educate on pollution of water sources and what can be done to minimize/prevent it. This educational campaign will run throughout the timeline of this project.

Our proposed project will be complemented by two Master of Water Security (MWS) students who are supervised by Dr. Markus Brinkmann, Assistant Professor SENS. One student will be responsible for employing bottles with GPS trackers (inspired by the U of T Trash Team) in order to find out where trash would end up in the river. Dr. Brinkmann and SSRWSI have tested a GPS tracker bottle in September 2021. The second student will also utilize trash tracking apps to create trash distribution maps (e.g. is there different trash distribution in different landscapes?) as well as trash composition data (e.g. what specific items are found along shorelines?). The trash that will be tracked through Living Sky Adventures will be a nice addition to the maps. The students will also assist SSRWSI with social media and education campaigns.