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Holiday Water Report 2017
HOLIDAY WATER REPORT 2017
SASKATCHEWAN GRASSLANDS AND PRINCE ALBERT'S NATIONAL PARKS
By Ronan O'Doherty
Contrary to what outsiders might believe, the province of Saskatchewan is not flat fields with uniform height crops as far as the eye can see.
Just like its sister provinces across the country, it has some stunning scenery and bountiful wildlife within its borders.
Continuing on our Holiday Series, we're looking at some of Saskatchewan's National Parks, which will feature free admission this year in celebration of Canada's sesquicentennial.
Grasslands National Park is located on the southern edge of the province and borders the US State of Montana.
Visitors tend to come to the park to camp, hike or animal watch.
According to park officials they received around 13,000 visitors last year. To prepare for this year's predicted bump in attendance they're asking visitors to plan their trip ahead of time using Parks Canada's reservation system.
"Drinking water is available at the Frenchman Valley Campground and the Visitor Reception Centre located in the West Block of the Park," Danielle Grant, Project Communications Officer with Grasslands National Park, told us via email. "Bottled drinking water is also available for purchase at the McGowan’s Visitor Reception Centre located in the East Block of the Park."
We were informed that the source of the drinking water is a well located in the Village of Val Marie. This water is tested every 3 months in accordance with Provincial and Federal guidelines for potable water testing.
"The well water is then transported to a cistern located in the Frenchman Valley campground where it is chlorinated," explained Grant, adding," Chlorine levels are regularly tested to ensure proper water quality."
She pointed out that Parks Canada's potable water guidelines and standards are built on the principles outlined in Health Canada's Guidance for providing safe drinking water in areas of federal jurisdiction.
For those planning on camping within the park, Grant advises that it is a rustic experience, so it is recommended that water supply be brought along or the necessary equipment be on hand to properly treat or boil water.
Visitors who drive due North from Grasslands for a little over seven hours will find themselves in the province's other national park, Prince Albert's.
Established in 1927, the park is known for its hiking, paddling, wildlife watching and fishing.
Significantly larger than Grasslands, Prince Albert's National Park welcomed nearly 260,000 visitors last year.
Shannon Bond, Public Relations and Communications Officer for the park, informed us via email that they have many tools at their disposal to effectively manage increased visitation.
"The park provides, on average, 30 to 40 million gallons of drinking water every year and will be able to meet the supply demand," she wrote.
Bond explained that recent investments by Parks Canada to support infrastructure are enabling Prince Albert National Park to upgrade their water distribution and treatment facilities.
"Waskesiu Lake is the source for drinking water that is provided to visitors staying in the town site and at Red Deer and Beaver Glen campgrounds," Bond wrote, "The Narrows campground provides drinking water from a deep well."
She went on to add, "Visitors staying at Sandy Lake and Namekus campgrounds, as well as the backcountry campgrounds, are responsible for transporting their own bottled water or filtering or boiling lake water for their personal use."
According to Bond, the intake and outtake water stations are closely monitored.
Samples are taken weekly and an annual source water test is also taken by a professional Saskatchewan Operator Certification Board technician.
In the event of a boil water advisory, we are told that the park immediately connects with key stakeholders such as the Waskesiu Community Council and Waskesiu Chamber of Commerce to get the word out to seasonal residents and business operators.
Notification signs are posted at all locations where water can be accessed and signs are also displayed at the entry to the park, visitor centre, various media platforms and other key locations.
Like Grasslands, it's recommended that in an advisory situation, visitors bring the proper equipment to manually treat the water, or tote their own supply.
Both parks offer free admission all year round, so offseason travellers would be wise to be prepared water wise regardless.