Issues

People often take good quality, abundant water for granted.They do not always understand how their actions can alter water quality and quantity, or how stewardship and improved land-use practicescan be implemented to maintain and improve water.

Changing behaviour is fundamental to promoting environmental sustainability, as the cumulative impact of individual and group actions far outweighs what can be accomplished through the broad regulatory management of agencies such as the Water Security Agency .

Some issues facing our watershed are:

1. Climate Change

The single most significant environmental challenge facing the globe and citizens of the earth is the changes in our climate that are occurring as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. As global citizens, as citizens of Canada and Saskatchewan, we must accept our role in contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, as well as our responsibility to do our part to reduce emissions and address the challenges of climate change.
 

2. Pollution 

A study of Wascana Creek focusing on the effects of effluence on water quality was conducted from 2005 to 2007. Researchers sampled water at five locations along the creek.

High levels of phosphorus and trace levels of various pharmaceutical drugs were found and possible adverse effects were examined by the researchers. They found some nitrate levels within federal guidelines, but others that were more than five times what is allowed. Nitrogen was found in sediment along the creek bed which was a complicating factor. Levels of ammonia also fluctuated among study sites, in some cases falling below guidelines, and in other cases, exceeding them by as much as twenty-five times the allowable amounts. Drug traces found in the water include a variety of substances from caffeine to antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals.

One concerning effect was the threat to wildlife habitat as the creek is home to carp and other fish, as well as many kinds of waterfowl. In addition, the increased concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus encouraged excessive algae growth in downstream waterways and lakes.

A major factor found during research was that, in winter, 100 per cent of the creek flow west of the sewage plant was treated effluent. At the time of this study, the sewage treatment plant in Regina included primary treatment, a five-cell lagoon system, alum treatment to remove phosphorus and disinfection with ultraviolent light.

In response to this study and rising public concern, the City of Regina is constructing a new sewage treatment plant set to be complete in December of 2016. While the amount of flow during winter remains 100% effluent, lower levels of pollutants should be present. The new plant includes three bioreactors which reduce ammonia and phosphorous in effluent released into the creek. Other upgrades are the refurbishment of the primary sedimentation tanks and three new secondary clarifiers. The goal is to protect public health and wildlife habitat, improve water quality downstream, and support future growth for the city.

Resources:

Waiser, M. J., Tumber, V., & Holm, J. (2011). Effluent?dominated streams. parts 1 & 2: Presence and effects of excess nitrogen and phosphorus in Wascana creek, Saskatchewan, Canada. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 30(2), 496-507. doi:10.1002/etc.399

Wastewater Treatment Plant (- City of Regina). Retrieved June 2, 2015.

https://www.regina.ca/residents/water-sewer/wastewater-treatment-plant


EFFLUENT-DOMINATED STREAMS. PART 1: PRESENCE AND EFFECTS OF EXCESS
NITROGEN AND PHOSPHORUS IN WASCANA CREEK, SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA
MARLEY J. WAISER,* VIJAY TUMBER, and JENNIFER HOLM

Environment Canada, Water Science and Technology Directorate, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Abstract: 

  • Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada (population 190,400) treats its sewage at a modern Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) on Wascana Creek. 
  • In the winter, treated sewage effluent makes up almost 100% of stream flow. 
  • Four surveys conducted from 2005 to 2007, in differing seasons, indicated significantly higher nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations at sites downstream of the STP compared to an upstream control site. 
  • Downstream, Wascana Creek is N hypersaturated (total dissolved N >3 mg/L) and Soluble Reactive Phosphorus (SRP) makes up a greater percentage of Total P (TP). 
  • Diminished nutrient retention capacities for both N and P are directly attributable to STP effluent. 
  • Creek SRP concentrations are less than estimates of equilibrium P concentrations (EPCo), indicating that creek sediments may be a source of P, further exacerbating hypereutrophic ambient SRP concentrations. 
  • As well, NO2 + NO3-N concentrations far surpass World Health Organization limits for drinking water (10 mg/L) and sensitive taxa, while NH3-N, NH4-N, and NO2 + NO3-N exceed Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for Protection of Aquatic Life and those for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 
  • High NH4-N concentrations may be responsible for depressions not only in algal biomass and production observed downstream but reductions in primary to bacterial production ratios (PP:BP). 
  • In spring and fall, these reductions push PP:BP from net autotrophy to heterotrophy. 
  • The Wascana Creek study highlights the considerable problems associated with excess nutrients in effluent-dominated ecosystems (EDS).
  • It also underlines the need for better controls on NH4-N additions from STPs in such EDS, especially in a day and age when freshwater supplies are dwindling and negative effects of climate change are expected. 
  • Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011;30:496-507. © 2010 SETAC

EFFLUENT-DOMINATED STREAMS. PART 2: PRESENCE AND POSSIBLE EFFECTS
OF PHARMACEUTICALS AND PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS IN WASCANA
CREEK, SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA
MARLEY J. WAISER,* DAVID HUMPHRIES, VIJAY TUMBER, and JENNIFER HOLM 

Environment Canada, Water Sciences and Technology Directorate, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Abstract:

  • Recent worldwide surveys have not only established incomplete removal of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) by sewage treatment plants, but also their presence in surface waters receiving treated sewage effluent.
  •  Those aquatic systems where sewage effluent dominates flow are thought to be at the highest risk for ecosystem level changes. 
  • The city of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada (population 190,400) treats its sewage at a modern tertiary sewage treatment facility located on Wascana Creek. 
  • The Wascana Creek hydrograph is dominated by one major event: spring snow melt. 
  • Thereafter, creek flow declines considerably and in winter treated sewage effluent makes up almost 100% of stream flow. 
  • Four water surveys conducted on the creek from winter 2005 to spring 2007 indicated that PPCPs were always present, in nanogram and sometimes microgram per liter concentrations downstream of the sewage treatment plant.
  •  This mixture included antibiotics, analgesics, anti-inflammatories, a lipid regulator, metabolites of caffeine, cocaine and nicotine, and an insect repellent. 
  • Not surprisingly, concentrations of some PPCPs were highest in winter. According to hazard quotient calculations and homologue presence, ibuprofen, naproxen, gemfibrozil, triclosan, erythromycin, trimethoprim, and sulfamethoxazole were present in Wascana Creek at concentrations that may present a risk to aquatic organisms. 
  • The continual exposure to a mixture of pharmaceuticals as well as concentrations of un-ionized ammonia that far exceed Canadian and American water quality guidelines suggests that Wascana Creek should be considered an ecosystem at risk. 
  • Although the Wascana Creek study is regional in nature, the results highlight the considerable risks posed to aquatic organisms in such effluent-dominated ecosystems.
  •  Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2011;30:508-519. © 2010 SETAC