Peace of mind for landowners in Saskatchewan

This post was written by Ethan Zerr, a summer student at Dr. Kerri Finlay’s limnology lab.

Landowners and Water Quality

This summer, the University of Regina worked in partnership with Water Rangers to give landowners a hands-on experience water monitoring! The needs of landowners across the prairies vary, but many of them manage manmade small ponds called dugouts. The main use of these dugouts is for drinking water for livestock. It is, therefore, important for the landowners to know the quality of their water to deem whether it is safe for their animals to consume. Unfortunately, lab analyses and results can take time to be returned to landowners. Water Rangers and the University of Regina constructed testing kits for landowners to receive real-time water quality results. Our goal with this project was to find a way for farmers to immediately obtain results from their tests and be able to act on these results accordingly.

Ethan sits in a canoe taking water quality measurements and samples.
A summer student taking water quality measurements and samples for Dr. Kerri Finlay’s limnology lab.

The Kits

The kits contain tools that test for nitrates, phosphates, conductivity, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, and temperature. The conductivity meter provided in each kit will be especially valuable, as sulphate levels are positively correlated to conductivity measurements. Sulphate content in these water bodies is one of the main dangers to livestock. When levels become too high, the water can become deadly!

These tests along with visual observations allow for a complete picture to be built about water quality. Farmers can be confident in their decision to give livestock access to these dugouts!

Kerri Findlay's team going out in a canoe to test one of the dugouts being monitored.
Dr. Kerri Finlay’s team taking completing tests at one of the dugouts being monitored.

Where we go from here

These kits are still in the trial phase and have been given out to a small sample group. The results will be shared on Water Rangers community platform, where the readings can be compared with laboratory measurements obtained by Kerri Finlay’s limnology lab at the University of Regina. By comparing results, we can soon determine whether these kits will be a reliable source of information for landowners. The kits will then be widely distributed to more volunteers across the prairies and beyond!

The team water testing in a dugout surrounded by cattle.
The team water testing in a dugout surrounded by cattle.

Dive deeper!

Interested in learning more about Dr. Kerri Finlay’s work? Follow the link here.

Learn more about the dugouts project here.

Watch the Saskatchewan Ripple Effect video here!

Dive deeper into our work with the University of Regina and our other projects here!