Turner Valley Gas Plant Provincial Historic Site

Sheep River Water Quality

Anomalous Discharges by the Sheep River

  • Iron Oxide Seeps outside of Erosion Protection Wall
  • Chain of Custody / Analytical Request
  • Anomalous Discharge along the Turner Valley Gas Plant Containment Wall
  • Iron Oxide Phenomena
  • Anomalous Discharge Sample Locations
  • Anomalous Discharge Groundwater Elevations and Chemistry
  • Sheep River Water Testing

    Concerns about discoloured water sittings on the Sheep River prompted the Alberta Government to conduct water testing at the areas in question. On July 14, 2008 these tests confirmed the water is safe and meets all Canadian drinking water standards.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: In the summer of 2008, photos showed distinct discolouration in a few pools along the banks of the Sheep River adjacent to the historic gas plant. What is this, and is my health at risk?

    A: On Monday, July 7, 2008, a call was made to the Environmental Hotline regarding seeping sites and water discolouration in pools along the Sheep river beside the gas plant.  A contracted environmental consultant, Stantec, took six water samples: four from the affected pools of water, one from upstream and one from downstream of the area. The Government of Alberta also took an additional three samples from the affected pools. Preliminary results from those samples indicated that public health and safety was not at risk. There were no exceedances of hydrocarbons in any of the samples, and all results met Canadian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines.

    Analysis showed that the brownish-orange substance and oily sheen were caused by iron oxidizing bacteria that is naturally occurring and commonly known to produce such observations. However, the Government of Alberta continues to monitor the water quality as a standard operating procedure.

    Q: Is the water quality safe?

    A: Yes. While sampling and testing of the Sheep River before the flood protection and containment system was built showed no unsafe levels of contaminants found in the water that exceeded appropriate levels (on and off the site), the flood protection and containment system prevents contaminants from migrating into the river entirely. We will continue to maintain the sites' water treatment system, do regular water monitoring on and around the site, and take appropriate action should there be any change in conditions affecting the site.

    Q: Is the site cleaned up?

    A: Yes. The Government of Alberta undertook extensive risk management and cleanup activities to address site contaminants. We will continue to ensure that ongoing environmental management occurs at the site. This ensures that we meet both present and future environmental health standards and regulations. The health and safety of the people in this region and the protection of the environment is a continued priority for the government.

    Q: What is the total amount spent so far on the Turner Valley project?

    A: To date, the government has invested over $20 million. This includes assessing, remediating and managing the environmental issues at the site (including work on the flood protection, groundwater containment and treatment systems), and initiating stabilization of the site's historic resources.



    Last reviewed/revised: March 18, 2016