Pollution of the North Saskatchewan River by the Prince Albert Pulp Company Limited
Tones, Patricia I.
The North Saskatchewan River is an important natural resource of the Province of Saskatchewan. Therefore, the many municipal, industrial, and recreational uses must not be impaired by any one user to the extent that the water can no longer satisfy other demands which are made upon it. The main objective of this thesis is to determine if the river has been polluted by the Prince Albert Pulp Company Limited. If this has occurred, it is also necessary to evaluate the nature and impact of the change. For the present study, the term pollution is defined according to the Water Resources Commission Act, 1965, of the Province of Saskatchewan. "In this act, 'pollution' means any alteration of the physical, chemical, biological, or aesthetic properties of any of the waters of Saskatchewan, and includes any change in the temperature, taste or odour of the waters, or the addition of any liquid, solid, radioactive, gaseous or other substance to any of the waters, or the removal of any such substance from the waters, that will render or is likely to render the waters harmful to the public health, safety or welfare or harmful or less useful for domestic, municipal, industrial, agricultural, recreational or other lawful uses, or harmful to or less useful for wild animals or birds or aquatic life." This definition embodies the generally accepted compromise (Douderoff and Warren 1957) which allows waste disposal to be a legitimate use of waters as long as this does not adversely affect other demands made upon the same body of water. Another view was expressed by Patrick (1953) who stated that "pollution is anything which brings about a reduction in the diversity of aquatic life and eventually destroys the balance of life in the stream". This study occurred at an ideal time in that the pulp mill began operating part way through the testing period. Thus, the natural condition of the river prior to possible pollution was ascertained, and changes in quality were easily detected as they occurred. A broad spectrum of chemical and microbiological tests was planned which monitored as many aspects of the river as possible. The greatest emphasis was placed on oxygen determinations since kraft pulp mills place a high oxygen demand on the receiving waters (Tomlinson 1954). Macrobenthic organisms were collected in the late spring before the mill operations commenced in July and were collected in the same area one year later. The toxicity of the effluent to fish was also investigated using a bioassay. These chemical, physical, and biological studies provided a basis for an evaluation of the presence and seriousness of the pollution.