Water collected from the Wascana watershed may look clean to the naked eye, but the University of Regina said evidence of plastic pollution can be easily found under a microscope.
Research conducted by the university has found microplastic in both Wascana’s water and its fish.
“Coloured fibres, and other kind of fragments of plastic or microbeads, which are the things you find in toothpaste and facial scrubs,” Associate Professor, Britt Hall said.
“We found those in virtually all of our fish stomachs.”
Hall and undergraduate student Samantha Campbell, said they found fish stomachs damaged by between two and 20 pieces of microplastic.
“I was surprised, we weren’t expecting to find anything,” Campbell said.
The implications of microplastics in water still being researched, but experts have noted that the plastic can act as a vector for potentially harmful contaminants like mercury.
According to Hall, Regina’s old water treatment plant allowed plastic in wastewater to settle at the bottom of biolagoons, keeping it away from the watershed. Hall hypothesizes that the upgraded water treatment plant’s flow-through filter system could potentially let more plastic pollution through.
“I am a little concerned with our new wastewater treatment plant there may actually be more release of microplastics than in the old system,” she said.
Hall and Campbell are now planning to study plastic levels in the sediment around Pasqua Lake.