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Water quality along the mainstem of the South Saskatchewan River is largely determined by the water quality of the inflowing Bow and Oldman rivers and the major factors influencing the region’s water quality are modifications in river flows by upstream reservoir operations and other diversions, as well as agricultural and municipal return flows.

At various times through the year, other factors play a larger, more local role influencing water quality. The contribution of surface runoff during the spring and early summer increases total suspended solids and turbidity and other water quality issues associated with those particles, and during periods when the relative contribution of groundwater increases, nitrogen, total dissolved solids and other parameters are affected.

Pharmaceuticals, hormones, and other known or suspected endocrine disrupting compounds have been detected in Alberta rivers. However, there is still limited research available on the regional implications of the presence of these compounds and additional monitoring of organic wastewater contaminants in the SSRSB surface waters is needed.