About WSA

Water Quality Sampling on North Saskatchewan River - Update Sept. 1, 2016

Surface Water Monitoring

The Water Security Agency (WSA) has results for 135 surface water quality samples, plus one foam sample.  These samples were tested for a comprehensive suite of parameters (substances) including Petroleum Hydrocarbon F1 to F4 fractions, the BTEX compounds (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylene) and a set of 20 different compounds known as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH).

So far, WSA has seen one exceedance in raw water for any treated drinking water quality standards, guidelines or screening values. This exceedance was for Benzo(a)pyrene at North Battleford along the northeast bank of the river and was just above the current drinking water quality guideline value of 0.01 ug/L and measured 0.02 ug/L (parts per billion).  

There are 17 water samples that have shown exceedances for the guidelines for protection of aquatic life, 11 were for Toluene, three for Pyrene, two for Fluoranthene, and one for Benzo(a)pyrene.  There were 43 “detections” in water samples which were below any guideline values for various petroleum constituents. 

 There were 14 “detections” of petroleum constituents in the foam sample.  One of the compounds, phenanthrene, was found to be at a concentration greater than the Interim Sediment Quality Guidelines and Probable Effect Level however since these results were from a sample of foam on the river surface and not sediment, it is offered for information purposes as foam doesn’t have a set of specific guidelines.

 WSA collected additional foam and water samples on Friday Aug. 26, these samples are being analyzed. Currently, WSA is doing a fingerprinting analysis of the results of detection of petroleum components in the foam sample collected to determine if it is related to the Husky Oil Spill.

 Sediment Monitoring

WSA has also been collecting sediment samples (mud, silt and sand) from the river bottom, from the Point of Entry all the way down the river system.  Up to Aug. 31, 2016 we have results for 28 sediment samples.  The data set now includes sediment quality monitoring results for seven locations with the #6 Hwy crossing – Wapiti Reach and #55 highway crossing near Nipawin.

WSA found detectable amounts of F3 and/or F4 hydrocarbons in the six sites monitored but not at each location on a river transect site where monitoring was carried out across the width of the river. There were F2 hydrocarbons at the upper sites (near the point of entry and near #21 highway bridge).

There were a total of 12 exceedances of the Canadian Council of the Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Interim Sediment Quality Guidelines at four of the stations (four exceedances at the sites near the Point of Entry, five exceedances at #21 Hwy, two exceedances at Paynton Ferry and one exceedance at #6 highway crossing – Wapiti Reach).  There were no exceedances of sediment guidelines for the samples collected near the North Battleford water intake, Prince Albert near the water intake and #55 highway crossing near Nipawin.

The results presented in this update show more detections of PAH compounds because a different laboratory was used with lower detection levels.  PAH compounds were detected in the sediments at five of seven locations for which results are available.  No PAH compounds have been detected near the North Battleford intake or #55 highway bridge near Nipawin.  Since the F2, F3 and F4 and PAH compounds tend to attach to organic materials found in the sediments and are essentially non-soluble in water, these are expected to be found in the sediments and less so in water.

The CCME interim sediment quality guidelines are intended to protect organisms that live in or on the bottom sediments and thereby the aquatic food chain, but are not of direct concern for people.

WSA continues to sample water and sediment quality in the area.