WUQWATR continues to work on programs that either improve water quality or seek to better understand water quality impacts in our watersheds. Read more about our efforts below:
Projects on the Landscape
As a grassroots organization, WUQWATR is increasing our capacity to put environmental restoration and enhancement projects on the landscape. These restoration projects require a lot of planning and can end up costing much more than WUQWATR’s operational budget of less than $250,000. The primary goal of these restoration and enhancement projects is to mitigate impacts of water quality to our lakes downstream.
WUQWATR also leverages our relationship with ALUS Canada to put back more wetlands on the landscape. This program provides 50 percent cost share to producers who wish to re-establish or enhance a wetland or riparian buffers on their property; On top of covering half the establishment costs, the ALUS-WUQWATR program provides an annual payment for maintaining these ecosystem services that the landowner has invested in. Check out our ALUS program page for more information.
We collaborate with researchers both directly and indirectly. Our Citizen Science program is a partnership with Dr. Kerri Finlay, biology professor at the University of Regina. Kerri’s research in dugouts also extends nicely into WUQWATRs AETS program, where we can share interesting findings to the producers we work with. WUQWATR also collaborates with the team at the Prairie Water Futures at the university of Saskatchewan. We work with them on not just monitoring projects, but also the policy research that goes on surrounding water management in the prairies.
We also are a member of the Qu’Appelle Basin Research Monitoring Committee (QBRMC). This committee formed specifically to get questions answered surrounding water quality in the Qu’Appelle River System. To date two studies have been produced for the committee.
Jennifer Roste and Dr. Helen Baulch at the Global Institute for Water Security (University of Saskatchewan) published a report in March 2018 that provided new insight to nutrient loading in our watersheds. The report showed the proportion on point and non-point sources of nitrogen and phosphorous within several streams across the Qu’Appelle basin. The report also made inferences as to the potential benefits that certain agricultural Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) would have on reducing nutrient loads in our streams. Click here to view the report.
The University of Regina also provided a report to the QBRMC. Elena Diebel and Parker Trimp completed a study that determined the mass nutrient loading from municipal wastewater treatment systems that discharge effluent to the lower Qu’Appelle River basin. The third year engineering students completed this work under the supervision of Dr. Kevin McCullum and Dr. Stephanie Young. The students determined the mass quantity of nutrients coming from specific sources and identified and quantified ways of reducing nutrients through aquatic vegetation and agricultural BMPs. Click here to view the report.
Currently, WUQWATR is supporting a new 3 year project with Dr. Helen Baulch. Funded by the Lake Winnipeg Basin Fund, this study will look specifically at sites in the WUQWATR watershed. The overarching goal of this project is to better understand the role of ditches in nutrient retention/release, and contribute to understanding of nutrient loads associated with partially or extensively drained prairie agricultural catchments. The project will use a combined observational-experimental approach to:
- instrument ditches to measure hydrology and nutrient chemistry
- survey ditches to understand key attributes (vegetation coverage, soils)
- perform experiments to assess how inundation alters chemistry of overlying water, and cross-validate findings by measuring time-series changes in ditches that are holding back runoff (gated ditches, or elevated culverts).
At the end of the project we will better understand: a) whether mowing can reduce nutrient release from ditch vegetation, and b) whether ditches are likely to act as sources or sinks of N and P during periods of spring and summer inundation. This will help inform practices such as gating ditches, by identifying when, and where P re-release may be of greatest risk.
Water Quality Monitoring
In 2019, WUQWATR implemented a new citizen science monitoring program in our lakes and rivers. 9 sites are being monitored by volunteers across our watershed. Our volunteers include young families, small businesses, & our own board members. Our team samples twice a month from June to October. We use kits provided by Water Rangers and we follow their sampling protocols.
WUQWATR isn’t the only group testing the water in our lakes and rivers. The Water Security Agency is the organization responsible for regulating water use in Saskatchewan. They also concern themselves with the protection of source water and aquatic habitat. The WSA retains long term and intermittent datasets relating to water quality in Last Mountain Lake, Buffalo Pound Lake, Qu’Appelle River, and Wascana Creek.
In addition to provincial government programs, researchers and professors at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina are collecting samples every summer. These samples are collected for specific research and are not always publicly available. If you have questions relating to their sampling programs, WUQWATR may be able to help you get an answer.
Water Quality Datasets
Stay tuned for a downloadable dataset from our citizen science program – coming late fall 2019.