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.
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.
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.
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
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