New signs warning Calgarians of Elbow River contamination receive critique from river user

Click to play video: 'City of Calgary increases signs for Elbow River water quality advisory' City of Calgary increases signs for Elbow River water quality advisory
WATCH ABOVE: The City of Calgary is increasing the number of signs advising people of the poor water quality in the Elbow River. But as Lisa MacGregor reports, some don't think it's enough – Jul 16, 2018

A Calgary river user says new signs warning people to be cautious about using the Elbow River are not informative enough and that he’s stunned to learn a water quality advisory for the waterway has been in place since 2016.

Bob Grundie says he took his dog to swim in the river multiple times over the summer last year and that had he known of the contamination, he would have found a different place to go.

“The signage, they… should be down right by the river, where people come down to sit and allow their kids and dogs to play,” he told Global News on Monday.

The new signs have been posted near the parking areas by Sandy Beach and Stanley Park reminding the public to be cautious using the Elbow River between Sandy Beach and 9 Avenue S.E. in Calgary.

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READ MORE: Don’t swim in Elbow River due to fecal bacteria contamination: AHS

Nancy Stalker, the manager of water quality service for the City of Calgary, said the signs are there in addition to 16 other signs posted along the Elbow River when a water quality advisory was first announced two years ago.

“We’ve been monitoring the water quality on the Elbow River and this is consistent over the years,” Stalker said on Monday. “We’re working to try and see the many different things that might be contributing [to water quality issues] and there isn’t one single thing — we know we’re looking at a variety of things.”

On June 21, Alberta Health Services (AHS) announced an advisory reminding river-users to avoid the area due to high levels of fecal bacteria.

AHS said the advisory was originally put in place in 2016 but they wanted to remind river users to be careful and that potential symptoms that could be experienced by people who ingest the water could include vomiting and diarrhea.

In addition to the new signs, an announcement has been posted on the city’s website which links back to the original AHS news release. AHS plans on using social media to get the message to the public as well, according to Stalker.

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She said there are also river ambassadors from RiverWatch that patrol both the Elbow and Bow rivers daily, talking with people about the advisory plus water safety, conservation and education.

READ MORE: Fast flowing Bow River prompts boating advisory in Calgary

Grundie said he thinks the signs should have the same message that AHS had in their release and should tell people not to wade or swim in the river between Sandy Beach and 9 Avenue S.E.

“At the very best, they would be informed and they could make the decision if they want to swim or wade in the river,” Grundie said.

Stalker said that though there is not one cause for the contamination, Calgarians can all do their part to help keep the rivers clean.

“Cleaning up after ourselves when we’ve been enjoying picnics down by the river, picking up after your pets so that the waste doesn’t get washed in after a rain; those are all really important things that we can all do to really help out,” Stalker said.

As of Monday, AHS has had no new update on Elbow River contamination.

–With files from Lisa MacGregor


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