By Medicine Hat News on September 11, 2017.
The South Saskatchewan River (SSR) is the product of the Bow and Oldman rivers joining near Grassy Lake, Alberta to create one of western Canada’s most spectacular water courses. Traveling eastward, the SSR joins the North Saskatchewan River near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. From there the united watercourses form the Saskatchewan River which flows into Hudson’s Bay via the Nelson River.
On average, the South Saskatchewan River, measured at Medicine Hat, has its highest flow rate in June. The average peak flow rate is about 700 cubic meters per second. This drops down to a minimum of about 80 cubic meters per second in September or October (SEAWA 2017).
Currently, under various provincial and federal bodies, several conservation and regulatory frameworks are in practice within the watershed aimed to enhance the quality, conservation, preservation and overall health of the watercourse.
Water quality in the region is largely determined by the quality of the inflowing Bow and Oldman rivers. Since 2003, over 95 per cent of water quality parameter measurements of raw river water have met the required objectives and there has been little fluctuation in the annual statistics (Prairie Province Water Board 2013).
In Medicine Hat, two locations offer the everyday Hatter access to the river; Strathcona Island Park, and Echo Dale Regional Park are equipped with modern boat launches, while Kiwanis River Park offers non-motorized access.
The SSR offers a wide variety of fish species including northern pike, goldeneye, walleye, perch and many more sought by anglers. Echo Dale Regional Park is also home to a trout pond that is stocked annually for recreational fishing and non-motorized boating.
The City of Medicine Hat reminds all anglers to please consult current Alberta fishing regulations, licensing requirements and conservation information (mywildalberta.ca).
Should natural exploration be more your calling, the SSR offers extensive recreational opportunities with floating, paddling and boating all available to recreational users.
The City of Medicine Hat encourages the use of its natural parks, waterbodies included. Please ensure safe and sustainable use by adhering to the following practices as where there is water there is risk:
Keep powered vessels at a safe distance from non-motorized watercraft;
Keep motor noise to a minimum;
Ensure safe and efficient use of boat launches;
Keep all fires in pits within city limits;
Refrain from any pollution to waterbody;
Follow all Alberta fishing regulations;
Ensure PFD’s are of proper fit and used as designed; and
Be water smart. Operating a boat or recreational use of river while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a criminal offence.
Doug Knowles is a parks technician with the City of Medicine Hat’s Parks and Recreation Department.
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