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University of Saskatchewan (2016)

Water Quality and River Nutrient Load in the South Saskatchewan River Basin, SK, Canada

Burke, Amanda

Titre : Water Quality and River Nutrient Load in the South Saskatchewan River Basin, SK, Canada

Auteur : Burke, Amanda

Université de soutenance : University of Saskatchewan

Grade : Master of Environment and Sustainability (M.E.S.) 2016

Résumé partiel
The South Saskatchewan River is arguably one of the most important river systems in western Canada. Due to its central location in the arid Prairie Provinces, the large population it supports, and its proximity to industrial and agricultural activities, the South Saskatchewan River Basin is one of the most utilized river basins in Canada. However, reoccurring water quality issues present a risk to the use of the river for agriculture, drinking water, and recreation. These issues include contamination from municipal and industrial effluents, urban stormwater runoff, and irrigation return flows ; elevated mercury concentrations and fecal coliforms ; and high sodium, chloride, and sulphate concentrations. It is crucial that we improve our understanding of the state of water quality in the South Saskatchewan River so that we may identify potential threats to the continued use of this river for people and ecosystems. A basin-scale assessment of water quality in the South Saskatchewan River Basin was carried out on historical data for 22 water quality parameters sampled at 16 locations from 1966-2009 along the South Saskatchewan River and its major tributaries (Bow River, Oldman River, Red Deer River). Water quality parameters included physical/chemical characteristics ; nutrients ; dissolved metals/metalloids ; and biological parameters. Particular focus was given on nitrogen and phosphorus as key indicators of ecosystem health and water quality degradation. Current water quality state was determined by applying provincial and federal guidelines for aquatic ecosystem protection. Water quality ‘state’ was defined as the risk for each parameter to exceed guidelines based on the number of exceedances during the study period. Trends in water quality that may indicate decreasing or degrading water quality over time were identified based on historical data using a Mann-Kendall (M-K) test for monotonic trend in a two-phase approach that included water quantity-quality modelling, and M-K testing. Water quality risk was “high” or “very high” for concentrations of dissolved fluoride, total zinc, total copper, fecal coliforms, dissolved organic carbon, total phosphorus, and total nitrogen.

Mots clés : South Saskatchewan River ; Water Quality ; Nutrient Load ; Cumulative Effects Assessment ; Watershed ; Agriculture ; Wastewater Effluent

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Page publiée le 22 novembre 2016, mise à jour le 27 janvier 2018