Lessons of an Accidental Beach – 2017 Water Monitoring Report

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Beach report assesses water quality, Brett Kissel joins Lowes to support protection of North Saskatchewan River

Swim Drink Fish Canada and North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper release river monitoring report and raise funds for clean water with Brett Kissel and Karen & Kevin Lowe on Saturday November 4, 2017

 

November 3, 2017 – EDMONTON –  Swim Drink Fish Canada and North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper released a joint report today that assesses recreational water quality in the North Saskatchewan River, “Lessons of an Accidental Beach.”

The report highlights the potential for water-based recreation on and in the North Saskatchewan River as well as the findings of a 2017 river monitoring program. Water is generally clean when it enters the City of Edmonton, but more frequently fails to meet Health Canada water recreation guidelines as the river progresses through the city. This is partly due to untreated stormwater discharges that enter the river throughout the city of Edmonton.

Given the love that Edmontonians have for their river, and especially in light of the outpouring of enthusiasm excited by the Accidental Beach, Swim Drink Fish Ambassador and North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper President, Karen Percy Lowe, is teaming up with singer Brett Kissel to host a fundraiser to protect the North Saskatchewan River. “A Celebration for the Heart of the River” takes place Saturday, November 4, 2017.

Proceeds from the event will support the work that Swim Drink Fish Canada and North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper are doing to promote water literacy in Edmonton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click to download full report (PDF)

 

Quote(s)

“The North Saskatchewan River runs through the heart of Edmonton. It shapes our lives here. We’re hosting this fundraiser to bring together people who love their city. Together, we can make sure that everyone in Edmonton will be able to safely swim, drink, and fish in their river for many years to come.”

– Karen Percy Lowe, President of North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper organization and an ambassador for Swim Drink Fish Canada.

 

“We are honoured that Brett will perform for us on November 4. Because of leaders like Brett and Karen, more and more Edmontonians are connecting with their river. It’s inspiring to see the Swim Drink Fish community grow.”

– Mark Mattson, President of Swim Drink Fish Canada

 

“We’ve heard it loud and clear from Edmontonians – we love our river, whatever we need to do, whatever we need to invest, let’s keep it clean. The Beach at Cloverdale has reminded us of something that has been there in its own way all along. The river is the heart of our city and it is calling us home.”

– Hans Asfeldt, Water Literacy Manager for Swim Drink Fish Canada and North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper.

 

About Swim Drink Fish Canada & North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper

Swim Drink Fish Canada and North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper work to protect swimmable, drinkable, fishable water by blending science, law, education, and storytelling with technology. Together, these Canadian charities empower millions of people to know and safeguard their waters through the Edmonton Water Literacy Program, Swim Guide, Watermark Project, and Community Water Monitoring. These programs help to build a national movement of active, informed, and engaged individuals working to ensure their communities can swim, drink, and fish forever.

 

Contact(s)

To coordinate an interview with Mark Mattson or Hans Asfeldt, please visit our contact page.

Water quality results for Tuesday Sept 12th, last results for the season

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As the swimming season slows down, this year’s monitoring program comes to a close this week. See the latest results below and watch for our Summer 2017 report, which will outline the findings of this year’s program in greater detail.

The North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper’s recreational water monitoring program conducts tests along the river at key access points within the city of Edmonton and the final results of the season are now available in Swim Guide. The program tests for E. coli, which is the standard bacterial indicator for recreational water quality as established by Health Canada guidelines. A beach is posted red when levels exceed 200 CFU/100ml (colony forming units of E. coli per 100 ml of water) and green when levels are equal to or below 200 CFU/100ml. Please note that results only reflect water quality at the time of sampling and that E. coli levels are only one of many factors that affect the overall risk level of recreation activities in moving water.

 

Water Quality Update: Sampled Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

Laurier Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 119 CFU/100ml

Capilano Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 48 CFU/100ml

Cloverdale Beach

Sandbar

Test Result: 110 CFU/100ml

Fort Edmonton Footbridge

Sandbar

Test Result: 110 CFU/100ml

 

Conditions on day of sampling: Sunny and clear, breezy

Click here for last week’s results.

 

Read our earlier blog post outlining the details of the monitoring program and to learn more about how to determine the safety of recreation in the river. The results posted here only reflect the water quality at the time of sampling and are only one of many factors that affect the risks associated with recreation in a moving body of water.

Results are posted weekly on the Swim Guide and can be found on the Laurier, Capilano, Cloverdale, and Fort Edmonton pages on the website and app.

Water quality test results for Tuesday, Sept. 5th

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This Tuesday’s test results revealed a temporary, but significant spike in levels of E. coli in the North Saskatchewan River. The reason for the increased level of bacteria is not clear and tests will continue well into September along with the swimming season. Bacteria levels decreased on Wednesday, but given that water quality changes from day to day, it is not possible to predict E. coli levels ahead of the weekend when crowds will return to Cloverdale Beach and other recreation hotspots along the North Saskatchewan River.

The North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper’s recreational water monitoring program conducts tests along the river at key access points within the city of Edmonton and this week’s results are now available in Swim Guide. The program tests for E. coli, which is the standard bacterial indicator for recreational water quality as established by Health Canada guidelines. A beach is posted red when levels exceed 200 CFU/100ml (colony forming units of E. coli per 100 ml of water) and green when levels are equal to or below 200 CFU/100ml. Please note that results only reflect water quality at the time of sampling and that E. coli levels are only one of many factors that affect the overall risk level of recreation activities in moving water.

 

Water Quality Update: Sampled Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

Laurier Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 359 CFU/100ml

Capilano Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 422 CFU/100ml

Cloverdale Beach

Sandbar

Test Result: 746 CFU/100ml

 

Conditions on day of sampling: Sunny and clear

The Fort Edmonton Footbridge Sandbar was not tested this week. Click here for last week’s results.

 

Read our earlier blog post outlining the details of the monitoring program and to learn more about how to determine the safety of recreation in the river. The results posted here only reflect the water quality at the time of sampling and are only one of many factors that affect the risks associated with recreation in a moving body of water.

Results are posted weekly on the Swim Guide and can be found on the Laurier, Capilano, Cloverdale, and Fort Edmonton pages on the website and app.

 

The Bigger Picture

Water quality in the North Saskatchewan River fluctuates from day to day and depending on the location and conditions, it is not uncommon that recreational water quality standards are exceeded. Test results only reflect water quality at the time of sampling, and because water quality often changes quickly in moving water, it is difficult to predict E. coli levels on the days that follow or even later on the same day. For this reason, it is important to interpret individual test results within the context of water quality trends over time. A full report outlining the findings of the monitoring program will be published later this fall.

Between August 1st and September 8th, North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper published 18 test results at four locations including three for the popular Cloverdale Beach. Nine out of 18 results met the Health Canada standard for recreational water quality of 200 colony forming units of E. coli per 100ml of water (CFU/100ml). The other nine results exceeded the standard.

At Cloverdale Beach, test results to date are as follows:

August 22:
August 29:
September 5:

123 CFU/100ml (Met water quality standards)
238 CFU/100ml (Failed to meet water quality standards)
746 CFU/100ml (Failed to meet water quality standards)

Additional E. coli data based on daily samples taken from the Rossdale Water Treatment Plant intake show that E. coli levels just upstream of Cloverdale Beach were recorded at 460 CFU/100ml on September 5. This was the highest result in that period of time – between September 1 and September 6 the average (geometric mean) level of E. coli at the intake was 142 CFU/100ml, which is within federal guidelines.

In the preceding period for which data is available (August 24 – August 30), the results exceeded federal guidelines, with a geometric mean of 254 CFU/100ml. Water quality is generally better at the intake than at any location downstream of the plant and the numbers confirm that depending on the day, Cloverdale Beach may or may not be suitable for swimming.

Health Canada guidelines are designed to limit the contraction of waterborne illnesses to 1-2%, or 10-20 illnesses for every 1,000 swimmers. When a beach fails to meet these guidelines, the risk of waterborne illness increases.

 

Media

Download the press release.

 

Routine dam shutoff ahead of long weekend, expect enough water for beach-combing!

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On Wednesday, August 30th, the Bighorn Dam on the North Saskatchewan River was shutoff for approximately 24 hours to conduct a routine leakage test. The shutoff reduced river flow immediately beneath the dam to half a cubic metre per second, down from flows of 50 to 130 m³/s the previous day. The Bighorn Dam is located about 400 kilometres upstream of Edmonton.

With the river running at a mere trickle, standard operations involved crews walking through ankle deep water to salvage fish and return them to deeper waters further downstream. Calgary-based Transalta Corporation owns and operates the dam and conducts leakage tests each spring when reservoir levels are low and again each fall when levels are high.

Despite the routine nature of the operation, any paddlers or boaters on the upper reaches of the river last Wednesday were likely in for a disappointing surprise when the unannounced shutoff dropped water levels to a point that would potentially leave boaters stranded in the Rockies.

As the river meanders into the foothills, a number of tributaries contribute additional flow to the main stem and the effect of the shutoff becomes less dramatic. The Bighorn Dam controls approximately 20-25% of the North Saskatchewan Watershed’s source water, while the other 75-80% enters the river downstream of the dam, including at the confluence of the Brazeau River, which is also dam controlled.

In Rocky Mountain House, which is about 120 kilometres downstream of the Bighorn Dam, the lowest recorded flows remained above 50 m³/s from around midday on Thursday, August 31st into the morning of Friday, September 1st.

To see real-time flow data at various stations on the North Saskatchewan River, visit www.rivers.alberta.ca – note that the data is not validated.

Flows generally take about three days to reach Edmonton from the Bighorn Dam and will arrive in the City sometime this Saturday. Flow levels are already lower as we progress into the fall season and the dam shutoff may lead to the lowest levels yet this year. As always, boaters should be aware that some river channels may be particularly shallow and that rocky outcrops may be difficult to see just beneath the surface.

The low flow event will certainly keep a large expanse of sand above water at the increasingly popular Cloverdale Beach, which emerged earlier this summer as river levels declined following the spring freshet. If you’re headed there this weekend, avoid swimming in the current where the water is shallow, be aware of any risks associated with fluctuating water quality (click here for the latest test results), and enjoy the unusually sandy oasis right in the heart of our City!

 

Latest water quality tests at Edmonton beaches – August 29th

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The North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper’s recreational water monitoring program conducts tests along the river at key access points within the city of Edmonton and this week’s results are now available in Swim Guide. The program tests for E. Coli, which is the standard bacterial indicator for recreational water quality as established by Health Canada guidelines. A beach is posted red when levels exceed 200 CFU/100ml (colony forming units of E. Coli per 100 ml of water) and green when levels are equal to or below 200 CFU/100ml. Please note that results only reflect water quality at the time of sampling and that E. coli levels are only one of many factors that affect the overall risk level of recreation activities in moving water.

 

Water Quality Update: Sampled Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Laurier Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 130 CFU/100ml

Capilano Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 74 CFU/100ml

Cloverdale Beach

Sandbar

Test Result: 238 CFU/100ml

Fort Edmonton Footbridge

Sandbar

Test Result: 35 CFU/100ml

 

Conditions on day of sampling: Sunny and clear, breezy

Click here for last week’s results.

 

Read our earlier blog post outlining the details of the monitoring program and to learn more about how to determine the safety of recreation in the river. The results posted here only reflect the water quality at the time of sampling and are only one of many factors that affect the risks associated with recreation in a moving body of water.

Results are posted weekly on the Swim Guide and can be found on the Laurier, Capilano, Cloverdale, and Fort Edmonton pages on the website and app.

How clean is the water at Cloverdale Beach?

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Depends on the day (and even the time!), but here is what we found on August 22nd.

 

Cloverdale Beach has been the talk of the city these past couple weeks – an accidental surprise resulting from the construction of the Valley Line LRT bridge has locals discovering what some say is a tropical paradise right here in our very own downtown!

On any sunny day these past couple of weeks, beach-goers have flocked to the sandy oasis by the dozens. More and more Edmontonians are discovering the new downtown amenity each day and with several days of swimming still left this summer, some beach-goers are turning their attention from the sand to the water. Just how clean is it?

The North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper’s recreational water monitoring program conducts tests along the river at key access points within the city of Edmonton and this week’s results, including Cloverdale Beach, are now available in Swim Guide. The program tests for E. Coli, which is the standard bacterial indicator for recreational water quality as established by Health Canada guidelines. A beach is posted red when levels exceed 200 CFU/100ml (colony forming units of E. Coli per 100 ml of water) and green when levels are equal to or below 200 CFU/100ml. Please note that results only reflect water quality at the time of sampling and that E. coli levels are only one of many factors that affect the overall risk level of recreation activities in moving water.

 

Water Quality Update: Sampled Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Laurier Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 69 CFU/100ml

Capilano Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 104 CFU/100ml

Cloverdale Beach

Sandbar

Test Result: 123 CFU/100ml

 

Conditions on day of sampling: Sunny and clear

The Fort Edmonton Footbridge Sandbar was not tested this week. Click here for last week’s results.

 

Read our earlier blog post outlining the details of the monitoring program and to learn more about how to determine the safety of recreation in the river. The results posted here only reflect the water quality at the time of sampling and are only one of many factors that affect the risks associated with recreation in a moving body of water.

Results are posted weekly on the Swim Guide and can be found on the Laurier, Capilano, Cloverdale, and Fort Edmonton pages on the website and app.

 

Swimming in the North Sask – August 15 test results

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The August 15th results from the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper’s recreational water monitoring program are now available in Swim Guide. Please note that results only reflect water quality at the time of sampling and that E. coli levels are only one of many factors that affect the overall risk level of recreation activities in moving water.

 

Water Quality Update: Sampled Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Laurier Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 110 CFU/100ml

Capilano Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 205 CFU/100ml

Fort Edmonton Footbridge

Sandbar

Test Result: 20 CFU/100ml

 

Conditions on day of sampling: Sunny and clear, windy

Click here for last week’s results.

 

Read our earlier blog post outlining the details of the monitoring program and to learn more about how to determine the safety of recreation in the river. The results posted here only reflect the water quality at the time of sampling and are only one of many factors that affect the risks associated with recreation in a moving body of water.

Results are posted weekly on the Swim Guide and can be found on the Laurier, Capilano, and Fort Edmonton pages on the website and app.

 

*note: Earlier information in our blogs indicated that test results are compared against the federal guideline of 400CFU/100ml. All information has been revised to reflect comparison against the correct federal guideline of 200CFU/100ml.

Sandbar near Fort Edmonton added to testing program, latest results available

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The August 8th results from the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper’s recreational water monitoring program are now available in Swim Guide. This week, we have added results for a popular sandbar just upstream of the Fort Edmonton Footbridge. Please note that results only reflect water quality at the time of sampling and that E. coli levels are only one of many factors that affect the overall risk level of recreation activities in moving water.

 

Water Quality Update: Sampled Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

Laurier Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 510 CFU/100ml

Capilano Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 370 CFU/100ml

Fort Edmonton Footbridge

Sandbar

Test Result: 20 CFU/100ml

 

Conditions on day of sampling: Sunny and clear

Click here for last week’s results.

 

Read our earlier blog post outlining the details of the monitoring program and to learn more about how to determine the safety of recreation in the river. The results posted here only reflect the water quality at the time of sampling and are only one of many factors that affect the risks associated with recreation in a moving body of water.

Results are posted weekly on the Swim Guide and can be found on the Laurier, Capilano, and Fort Edmonton pages on the website and app.

 

*note: The water quality status at Capilano Park has been edited to reflect an exceedence of the federal guideline for recreational water quality of 200 CFU/100ml (colony forming units of E. coli per 100 millilitres of water). The status that now show in this page is correct.

If the sun comes out be sure your beach is swimmable! Water quality advisories in Alberta

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The long weekend is upon us and with a bit of luck we will get some sunshine! August long is one of the busiest times of year for Alberta’s beaches and before you make weekend plans, be sure to confirm that your destination is free of water quality advisories – there’s no greater disappointment than making big plans with friends only to find that you’ve travelled all that way and can’t have fun in the water.

Check out our Swim Guide website or app to find out whether a beach near you has an advisory or see the list below to learn which beaches in Alberta are currently under an Alberta Health Services advisory.

 

Click here to go the Swim Guide website.

 

Swim Guide is developed by Swim Drink Fish Canada, a close partner of the North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper.

Beaches in Alberta under advisory as of August 5th, 2017

 

E. coli test results posted at Laurier & Capilano for August 1st

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The North Saskatchewan Riverkeeper’s recreational water monitoring program is releasing it’s first official results today. The program tests for E. coli as a bacteria indicator of fecal contamination in recreational waters. The Laurier Park and Capilano Park boat launches are popular river accesses within the City of Edmonton and our first official data based on our Tuesday samples are consistent with expectations and historical patterns – during a period of rain, the volume of stormwater discharges is higher and generally carries more contaminants into the river. The test results are noted below, both exceeding the federal recreational water quality guideline of 200 CFU/100ml (colony forming units of E. Coli per 100 millilitres of water)*. Under these conditions, the risk of contracting a waterborne illness through contact with the water is significantly increased.

Water Quality Update: Sampled August 1st, 2017

Laurier Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 1953 CFU/100ml

Capilano Park

Boat Launch

Test Result: 634 CFU/100ml

 

Conditions on day of sampling: Raining, water mostly clear

Read our earlier blog post outlining the details of the monitoring program and to learn more about how to determine the safety of recreation in the river. The results posted here only reflect the water quality at the time of sampling and are only one of many factors that affect the risks associated with recreation in a moving body of water.

Results are posted weekly on the Swim Guide and can be found on the Laurier and Capilano pages on the website and app.

 

*note: Information in this post regarding water quality guidelines has been edited. The current version of the post correctly reads that test results are compared against the federal guideline of 200 CFU/100ml.

 

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