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Water Today Title June 29, 2022

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Advisory of the Day



This story is brought to you in part by Proteus Waters

A grazing pasture near Shamrock, Saskatchewan gained attention earlier this month when approximately 200 head of cattle died. The pasture is operated by Shamrock Grazing Ltd. The deaths were attributed to the water that the cattle were drinking from a dugout located on the grounds.

Betty Althouse, the Government of Saskatchewan's Chief Veterinary Officer, said "testing determined that sulphate concentrations in the water extremely high, at over 24,000 milligram/litre (mg/l)." she also indicated that level of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) was found to be "33,400 mg/l." Neurological trauma occurs in cattle at sulphate concentrations over 1,000 mg/l, and death can occur when concentrations are over 7,000 mg/l.

Althouse said that "water with TDS greater than 7,000 mg/l should not be used for cattle at all."

Althouse confirmed that because the weather was hot and dry "the Ministry [of Agriculture] has received some reports of poor quality water." Producers are encouraged to check their cattle and the sources of water on a regular basis.

Kaley Pugh, the Executive Director for Animal Protection Services Saskatchewan, said that "there has not been a determination of whether there was negligence or not yet, and that is the primary question that we are attempting to answer during our investigation."

The animal protection service is "in the process of conducting interviews and gathering history." The investigation can be a rather lengthy process, contacting interviewees and waiting for official reports, that is why "it's difficult to determine an exact time frame" for its completion. Pugh added, "there is a six-month 'limitation of action' on Animal Protection Act charges."

The group is "working as quickly as [they] can, [and] do have to the investigation concluded one way or another before that six-month limit." Pugh explained that any "final determination about the nature of the events will be given by a Crown Prosecutor."

Another individual with a window on this situation is Barry Blakley PhD, Professor in the Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences at the University of Saskatchewan.

The effect happened rapidly between the arrival of the animals and the deaths, "the cattle were only put out into that field about a week before," Blakley said. He added, "the only reason we were testing [the cattle] was because they were dying."

There were high levels of salinity in the water on the pasture. Blakley explained that "in that area of [Saskatchewan] there is potash [in the ground] which is basically a salt." He continued "in this case the salt had access to the surface beneath the low area in the land," when the area filled with water it was just dissolved.

The President of Shamrock Grazing Ltd., Glenn Straub, was unreachable for comment. A look at a job description that was posted on January 20, 2017, for the Pasture Manager, lists as one of the many tasks "management of water resources including dugouts, shallow water lines, [and] troughs." There is a six-month window to lay charges, if warranted, in this case under Saskatchewan legislation, until then the Ministry of agriculture is aiding testing on water sources in

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