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Water Quality Sampling on North Saskatchewan River - Update Nov. 10, 2016

Nov. 10, 2016 - The Water Security Agency (WSA) now has results for 258 surface water quality samples, plus four foam samples.  This includes new results for 29 water samples in comparison with what was reported on Sept. 22, 2016.

All 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).

There were no newly reported exceedances in raw water during this reporting period for any treated drinking water quality standards, guidelines or screening values.  Both exceedances reported to date have been for Benzo(a)pyrene, one from near North Battleford and one from near Prince Albert.  Previously reported exceedances of the drinking water guidelines this does not impact the water treatment plants or turning on of the water intakes.

We now have 29 water samples that have shown exceedances for the guidelines for protection of aquatic life, seven more than reported on Sept. 22, 2016.  These were comprised of 19 exceedances for Toluene (four new detections for Toluene since the last data release), five for Pyrene (two new exceedances), three for Fluoranthene (one new exceedance), and two for Benzo(a)pyrene.  There were 59 “detections” in water samples, four more than in our Sept. 22, 2016 update, which were below any guideline values for various petroleum constituents.  

This report also contains data for a total of 10 field and trip blanks which are water samples analysed to determine any potential sample collection or analytical problems.  There were three reported exceedances for guidelines for protection of aquatic life and three other reported detections for the results for these “blank” samples

There are no new results for foam samples since the last update.

Sediment Monitoring

WSA continued to collect sediment samples (mud, silt and sand) from the river bottom during the latest reporting period.  Samples were collected from 18 locations from above the Point of Entry all the way down the river system to #55 Hwy near Nipawin.  These results also include monitoring results from four locations on the South Saskatchewan River collected for comparative purposes.  Up to Nov. 4 , 2016 we have received results for a total of 158 sediment samples, 68 more than our last report on Sept. 222016

WSA has found detectable amounts of F3 and/or F4 hydrocarbons in the 8 of 18 locations monitored along the North Saskatchewan / Saskatchewan River system.  None of the four locations on the South Saskatchewan River showed detectable F3 and/or F4 hydrocarbons.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon compounds (PAH) were detected in the sediments at 14 of 18 locations for which results are available, five more locations than previously reported for Sept. 2, 2016.  No PAH compounds have been detected at the Borden Bridge, Petrofka Bridge, near the Prince Albert Airport, or near the #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.

There were a total of 101 exceedances (36 more than previously reported on Sept. 22, 2016) of the Canadian Council of the Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Interim Sediment Quality Guidelines at nine of the stations, two more than previously reported.  To date there have been no exceedances of the interim sediment quality guidelines for the bottom sediment samples collected the remaining nine locations sampled or at any of the stations sampled on the South Saskatchewan River.

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.

Since petroleum components such as PAH are attracted to and partition to sediments and organic materials found in river bottom and suspended sediments, it is expected that such materials would be more frequently found in sediments.  Of interest various PAH compounds are detected upstream of the spill site.  PAH can arise from industrial operations, municipal wastewater effluents and other sources such as forest fires, auto exhaust, etc.  Previous historical studies have shown the presence of PAH in upstream reaches of the North Saskatchewan River.

WSA plans to collect water samples from select locations over winter months.