Strathcona County’s Oldman Creek isn’t the best, but it’s far from being the worst.
CreekWatch, a project of the RiverWatch Institute of Alberta, used 68 volunteers to regularly test water quality in 10 creeks last summer, including Oldman Creek in the county, which ranked fourth.
Volunteers tested the creeks for temperature, turbidity, chloride and phosphorous levels, while a trained technician visited each week to test E. coli, salinity and dissolved oxygen.
“We let volunteers use these science tools to find out for themselves what the quality is like,” said Reed Froklage, citizen science coordinator with the Calgary-based group that released the findings.
In addition, one water sample per creek was sent to the lab.
“These creeks, some of them are neglected, but a lot of people live along them,” Froklage said.
That’s not the case for all creeks. Calgary’s Fish Creek ranked No. 1 amongst the 10 studied bodies of water; with Edmonton’s Wedgewood Creek taking the No. 2 position; and Pine Creek, also in Calgary, taking the No. 3 spot above Oldman Creek.
“It’s a cool way for people to do science and see science working in the community they live in,” said Sahra Deagle, a volunteer who monitored Edmonton’s middle-of-the-pack Whitemud Creek.
While Oldman Creek saw a total of 20 samples taken, a body such as Pine Creek underwent a total of 52 samples.
According to John Wood, a professor at King’s University in Edmonton who teaches biology, this kind of monitoring is exactly what creeks need in order to stay healthy, or to return to a healthy state: “Someone needs to own it, love it, take pictures of it….
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