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Water Quality

   Status: Stable

The South Saskatchewan River is central to the community, culture, and heritage of Saskatoon. Citizens live, work, and play in and around the river, which also supplies the community with drinking water and receives stormwater and treated wastewater.

The river is part of larger ecological entities called the South Saskatchewan River Watershed and the Saskatchewan River Basin that connect us to our neighbours up and downstream of Saskatoon and the province of Saskatchewan. Because the river is so vital to our citizens, it is important that we take part in management of this resource. 

Where are we now?

In Canada, the federal government has jurisdiction over water in relation to fisheries, navigation, federal lands, First Nations, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and boundary waters shared with the United States. Responsibility is shared with the provinces in other areas such as agriculture and health. Provinces are otherwise 'owners' of their own water resources and are responsible for its management.

The Water Security Agency (WSA) is responsible for water management in Saskatchewan. The agency monitors surface water quality in the South Saskatchewan River and reports on the health by using a Water Quality Index (WQI) based on physical and chemical properties. The table below summarizes the WQI for the South Saskatchewan River upstream and downstream of Saskatoon.

Data Table
Water Quality
  2005-07 2006-08 2007-09 2008-10 2009-11 2010-12 2011-13 2012-14 2013-15 2014-16 2015-17 2016-18 2017-19 2018-20
Water Quality Index Upstream of Saskatoon (near Outlook) 94.5 94.8 83.3 83.2 83.2 95.2 91.1 90.6 91.1 100 100 100 100 100
Water Quality Index Downstream of Saskatoon (west Clarkboro) 90.9 91 91.7 91.7 91.7 84.8 81.8 100 100 95.5 95.5 89.4 90.8 90.9

Water Quality Index Range Water Quality Description 
Excellent 95-100 Water quality is protected with a virtual absence of threat or impairment; conditions very close to desirable levels. These index values can only be obtained if all measurements are within objectives virtually all of the time.
Good 80-94 Water quality is protected with only a minor degree of threat or impairment; conditions rarely depart from desirable levels.
Fair 60-79 Water quality is usually protected, but occasionally threatened or impaired; conditions sometimes
depart from desirable levels.
Marginal  45-59 Water quality is frequently threatened or impaired; conditions often depart from desirable levels.
Poor 0-44 Water quality is almost always threatened or impaired; conditions usually depart from desirable levels.

Source: Government of Saskatchewan, Water Security Agency, Drinking Water Annual Report

What Are We Doing?

The City is actively engaged in source water protection, which involves the prevention of pollution and the management of activities that could threaten the quality and quantity of our source water. Activities include:

The City is also a member of several non-profit organizations that engage in water management activities. These organizations include the South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards, Partners for the Saskatchewan River Basin, and Canadian Water Network.

What Can You Do?

Participate in local education and awareness programs to learn more about your watershed and activities to protect our source water. Current campaigns include: Caring for Our Watersheds, Yellow Fish Road Program, and Prevent Irritable Sewer Syndrome.


Did You Know?

Saskatoon’s tap water is safe and healthy with over 55,000 tests per year monitoring quality.