Alarming water results found near raw sewage dumping site

A CBC News investigation reveals alarming water test results in the Elbow River near where raw sewage is spilling into the forest on the Tsuu T'ina First Nation.

Sewage from Redwood Meadows being diverted from blocked sewer line onto the forest floor

A CBC News investigation reveals alarming water test results in the Elbow River near where raw sewage is spilling onto the forest floor of Tsuu T'ina First Nation.

The sewage is being diverted from a blocked sewer line leaving the Townsite of Redwood Meadows and was spewing out roughly 500 metres from the Elbow River.

Water experts have said there are concerns about dangerous pathogens and fecal coliform, like E. coli, entering the waterway — which is a source of Calgary's drinking water.

Raw sewage has been spilling out onto Tsuu T'ina land near Redwood Meadows more almost two weeks. (CBC)

CBC News hired an independent water lab to run tests for pathogens at the dump site and on the river.

Benchmark Laboratories tested the river upstream from the site, then downstream. It also analyzed samples where the sewage was leaving the pipe.

The tests confirm a lot of raw, human sewage is coming out of that pipe.

"I've never seen something quite like this outside the third world," said Chris Bolton, CEO of Benchmark Laboratories.   

Test results show human bacterial fecal count was off the scale.

"You do not dump openly on a gravel system such as this in such close proximity to water," he said. "It's not worth the risk."

Also, the river water downstream had a pathogen level three to four times higher than upstream from the site.

Bolton says those results from the river still meet provincial standards for recreational use, but he urges the government to do more testing.

At this point, no level of government has issued any warning.