Litter and debris can eventually end up in the South Saskatchewan River through storm drains located on all Saskatoon streets and roads. Storm water, snow melt, and anything else that goes down storm drains, flows underground to outfalls along the riverbank. The City, in partnership with the University of Saskatchewan (USask), received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through their Alliance Grants program to launch a pilot project aimed at preventing debris from entering the river.
“We’ve attached trash trap bags onto outfalls near Pembina Avenue and Prince of Wales Avenue,” says Russ Munro, Director of Saskatoon Water. “When the bags fill, USask staff and students will collect and analyze the contents and test the storm water for potential pollutants.”
“Our team will be able to identify the levels and composition of litter and other potentially harmful contents or pollutants entering the river through our storm drains,” says Dr. Markus Brinkmann, Director of USask’s Toxicology Centre and Lead-Principal Investigator of the USask team.
“We hope that this research will help the City understand the sources of pollution better, with the ultimate goal of controlling it before it can enter the river,” says Dr. Kerry McPhedran, Associate Professor in Civil, Geological and Environmental Engineering at USask and Co-Principal Investigator on the project.
Litter and contaminants entering the river can harm fish and other aquatic life and reduce its recreational value. Residents can help in several ways, including avoiding windblown litter by closing their trash bins properly, responsibly disposing of litter and harmful chemicals, cleaning up after their pets, fertilizing yards with natural elements, and ensuring their vehicles are not leaking fluid.
The trash trap bag pilot project will be in place for two years at which time a decision will be made whether to expand the initiative. For more information, visit saskatoon.ca/stormwater.