Efforts are underway to control the massive streams of raw, untreated sewage that are flooding the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton, Alberta. Even after two decades of repairs and $200 million in water treatment upgrades, the issue is still a major concern.
Less than a month ago, 52,000 cubic metres of human waste leaked into the river after major rainfall caused the area's single sewer line to overflow. Believe it or not, that amount is actually a major improvement from a few years ago. In 2014, nearly 900,000 cubic metres of liquid waste came pouring into the river.
In a map published by the Edmonton Journal, the majority of the sewage flows out of Rat Creek, near the east end of Jasper Avenue. According to the journal, 1.5 million cubic metres have spilled at Rat Creek every year for the last five years, flowing downstream and seeping into the river.
Here's a map of the raw sewage discharge along the river:
As sandy shorelines along the North Saskatchewan River are being transformed into popular beach destinations, the human waste issue is a more serious health concern than ever. Popular beaches along the river include Cloverdale Beach, Rundle Park Beach, and Fort Edmonton Footbridge Beach.
Last summer, Cloverdale Beach failed to meet water quality standards due to the concerning amount of E. coli, a type of bacteria that's typically associated with fecal matter contamination. To this day, Cloverdale Beach continues to fail water quality tests 50% of the time.
If you're planning a beach day in Edmonton, you may want to check the provincial Swim Guide, which indicates water quality and safety at every beach in Alberta. There are also tons of outdoor public swimming pools in Edmonton, which you can locate on this map.
According to the director of the North Saskatchewan River Watershed Alliance, the river is still "something to be appreciated and enjoyed. But just like any water body, I’d use your best judgment. If it just had a storm and there’s a bunch of debris running down the river, today’s not the day.”
Source: Edmonton Journal