Get to Know the Sturgeon River

How well do you know the Sturgeon River?

The Sturgeon River is typical of many smaller rivers in Alberta, as it is fed mainly through precipitation. It can also have a very low flow, particularly in late summer and early fall. However, one feature of the Sturgeon is unique: the amount of water in our river is greatly influenced by the four lakes west of St. Albert's boundaries.

The Sturgeon River is full of aquatic vegetation which can be an indicator of a healthy river. Aquatic vegetation helps to remove excess nutrients and adds oxygen to the water, however, there is still an excessive amount of nutrients in the river.

The City monitors six sites along the Sturgeon River 3-4 times per year within St. Albert boundaries. The river is tested for nutrients, water hardness, salt (chlorides), bacteria (E. coli), metals and pesticides. The results of these parameter tests are communicated through the water quality index below, which reports on the annual health of the river.

Parameters indicating river health

Total phosphorus and total nitrogen
These nutrients are used as general indicators of ecosystem health and landscape influences. Sources of excess nutrients into the river can include fertilizers and manure.

E. coli
Levels of E. coli help to determine whether the water is safe for recreation or irrigation. It is also an indicator of fecal contamination from urban environments (e.g. dog feces) or agriculture (e.g. manure).

Used to determine the impacts of road salt application.

Total suspended solids
Used as an indicator of sedimentation and erosion. 

Total phosphorus, nitrogen and suspended solids (nutrients) are measured against the background or historical levels. Levels of chloride and E. coli are measured against existing environmental provincial guidelines. This is where the Sturgeon River (within the City of St. Albert boundaries) has landed on the index:

River Quality Index

Water in the storm drains does not receive any pre-treatment; it flows directly into the river. Therefore, the activities we perform on the landscape can have a large effect on the water quality in the river.

The Sturgeon River has not experienced drastic changes to the background nutrient levels and chloride and E. coli have consistently been within the provincial guidelines. This is the desired zone for a healthy river.

How residents can help maintain the river's water quality

  • Avoid over-application of fertilizers or use compost;
  • Pick up after your pet; and
  • Dispose of hazardous materials (e.g. paint, oil, etc.) properly by dropping them off at the Mike Mitchell Recycling Facility or City of Edmonton Eco Stations.

Related Pages

Last edited: February 23, 2021