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USask partners with Saskatoon to capture, analyze waste entering river

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A two-year pilot project in Saskatchewan is placing trash trap nets over the head frames of storm drain outfalls to capture and analyze waste entering the South Saskatchewan River.

The project is a partnership between the University of Saskatchewan and the City of Saskatoon to not only protect the river, but better understand the types of debris travelling to the outfalls from city streets.

With funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Saskatoon has already purchased two trash trap nets at $15,000 each. Once full, USask students will empty the nets for analysis.

Mitch McMann, stormwater utility manager for Saskatoon, said the project is important because debris could pose a threat to wildlife in the river.

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“Debris could be harmful to the fish and other aquatic life that’s in the river, so any improvements we can make to the river system and watershed system is an overall improvement to the environment,” McMann said in a statement.

McMann said the trash trap nets will have secondary anchor systems in place to ensure they won’t break or spill the debris they’ve collected. If they become full and dislodge from the outfall, they will still remain attached to the head frame, he said.

The first two traps will be attached to outfalls near Pembina Avenue and Prince of Wales Avenue.

Dr. Kerry McPhedran, associate professor in civil, geological and environmental engineering at USask, and co-principal investigator on the project, said he hopes “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.”

In conjunction with the pilot project’s announcement, the City of Saskatoon reminded residents to help prevent river pollution by ensuring waste bins are closed securely, cleaning up after their pets, fertilizing yards with natural elements, and ensuring their vehicles are not leaking fluid.

Following the pilot project, Saskatoon officials said they will decide whether to continue and potentially expand the net project.

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