Saskatchewan

Screened sewage from Regina rankles folks downstream

People who live downstream from Regina are not pleased with how the city discharged screened sewage into the river system, following heavy rains.

Heavy rain in Regina led to a discharge of screened water

Lake users unhappy with Regina sewage discharges 2:11

People who live downstream from Regina are not pleased with how the city discharged screened sewage into the river system, following heavy rains.

The city released strained sewage into Wascana Creek in an effort to avoid a back up of the city's sewer system.

Echo Lake is a popular recreation area. (CBC)

Pat Lee, who lives at Echo Lake, one of five in the area that are downstream from Regina, loves to be on the water.

"We have a very short summer in Saskatchewan and when you live on a lake or when your livelihood depends on the lake, and that season is shortened even more by somebody else's excrement in the water, it's disappointing," Lee told CBC News Thursday.

Lee said she is worried that what happened last year, when there were water quality issues, could happen again.

"People were seeing human excrement on the beaches and things when kids are playing," Lee said. "It was kind of nasty."

Another local, Emma-Lee Kramer, expressed a similar concern.

"The water should stay clean and clear and everyone should be able to have a good summer and enjoy it," Kramer said.

"If we're worried about going in the water again — when this is the place we spend our summers in and have a good time — then that's just really unfortunate."

Rylan Ell was also worried about the quality of water for aquatic life.

"When there's poop in our lake it's going to kill the fish," Ell said. "And our eco zones will be polluted with raw sewage and it's just terrible."

Regina's director of water works, Pat Wilson, told CBC News that one million litres of water was discharged into Wascana Creek in an effort to cope with the rain, and included about 330,000 litres of screened sewage.

Pat Lee enjoys being out on the water. (CBC)

"We are very concerned about both the environment and our residents," Wilson said. "We are doing a number of projects that are intended to improve what is happening at the other end of the discharge."

One of the projects is for an additional pipe from one of the city's pumping stations to the water treatment plant. 

Rural resident Pat Lee said she hopes that solves the city's problem with heavy rain.

"There are real people with real homes with real children swimming in real lakes out here at the other end of that [discharge]," she said. "I don't know that Regina's problem should become our problem."

Wilson said the decision to bypass the water treatment plant was not made lightly.

She explained that the city's McCarthy pumping station does not have the capacity to handle the volume of water that comes with a big storm, adding a third pipe should solve that.

Pat Wilson is the director of water works for the city of Regina. (CBC)

She added that the screens that the water passes through only remove large masses so some solid material can get through.

The city also contacts the province's water security agency to let them know about what the city is doing.

With files from CBC's Ryan Pilon

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