Testing for Phosphorus in Lakes and Rivers

Testing for Phosphorus in Lakes and Rivers Flowing into the South Saskatchewan River

Lake Winnipeg Basin

To better understand phosphorous levels in Saskatchewan waterways, four Saskatchewan Watershed Stewardship Groups are collaborating to collect water samples from tributaries of the South and North Saskatchewan Rivers. This project will study how the tributaries contribute phosphorous to these rivers and eventually the Lake Winnipeg Basin. The Lake Winnipeg Basin is nearly 1,000,000 kmĀ² in size and is home to more than 7 million people. The Lake Winnipeg Basin is an important freshwater resource and the heart giving life to lakes and rivers from Manitoba to Alberta, Ontario, and the United States. The goal of this project is to gather baseline phosphorus data to increase public knowledge and engagement on water quality and help inform future projects. 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 that cause increased growth of algae (Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment).

If you want to learn more about increasing algae blooms in Lake Winnipeg we highly recommend watching this video!

SSRWSI Sampling Results 2019 and 2020

In the South Saskatchewan River watershed volunteers sampled the Opimihaw, Fish & Beaver Creeks monthly from July through October 2019.

The Prairie Provinces Water Board provides a 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. Read our blog post here for more information on how low flows can impact total phosphorus levels!

In 2020 we started at first thaw, sampled weekly during peak flow, and continued monthly through September! Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we had only one volunteer taking all our samples, so as not to have to share equipment between volunteers. As well, two of our sites had restricted access. Thank you to Renny Grilz with Meewasin Valley Authority for volunteering to look after all three of our sampling sites!


SSRWSI YouTube Video

Check out our YouTube video to see what the phosphorus sampling process looks like! For best quality use the HD setting!