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Saskatoon to remove decades-old river sludge

Saskatoon's water treatment plant produces the chemical sludge and, until a few years ago, dumped it into the river.

SASKATOON—There’s enough chemical sludge in part of the South Saskatchewan River to fill as many as 16 swimming pools, but now there’s a plan in place to remove it.

Saskatoon’s water treatment plant produces the non-toxic chemical sludge and until a few years ago, dumped it into the river.

The plant now captures the sludge and hauls it to the landfill.

However, the old sludge has built up over decades and Meewasin Valley Authority CEO Lloyd Isaak says it will take some time to pull that out of the river.

He says the Meewasin Valley Authority has given the city three years to start the removal project.

The sludge is concentrated along several hundred metres of river in the area around the water treatment plant near Riversdale Pool and the south side of Victoria Park.

Isaak says there are a couple of options to remove the sludge.

One is to use equipment with an extended reach, like backhoes, that would be on land and scoop out the sludge. Another more expensive option is to dredge the river. That process would pump up the sludge from the bottom.

The project’s estimated cost is $3 million, which will include land restoration.

“Once (the sludge) is removed, the city is including some work to restore some fish habitat along that edge,” Isaak says.

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