Soaring river levels cause closures and cancellations around Prince Albert

The North Saskatchewan River is expected to rise by two metres due to increased flow. -- Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald

High water levels on the North Saskatchewan River are causing temporary closures and cancellations.

The City of Prince Albert said a section of Little Red River Park will be closed on Wednesday. The closed portion is from the Highway 55 access point to the Cosmo Lodge, including the lodge itself.

Parks Manager Tim Yeaman said the city will decide on Thursday morning when to re-open this section of Little Red. It all depends on flow data and an on-site evaluation.

“We prioritize the safety of our residents and aim to guarantee that conditions are suitable for public access before reopening,” he said in a news release.

The safety concern is also due to construction of a new park in the area.

According to the Highway Hotline, the Cecil Ferry east of the city is also closed due to high water levels.

The Kistahpinanihk Paddling Club has shuttered its boathouse for the week. Paddling is not recommended with the water “flowing very rapidly and littered with debris,” it said in a Facebook post.

All of the club’s programming – including the paddle night that was scheduled for Tuesday and the Women on the Water kayak night – was cancelled.

The city is advising the public to steer clear of the North Saskatchewan River until the water returns to normal levels.

Peak flow is expected on Wednesday and Thursday at 1100-1200 m3/s. The typical flow is between 200 and 300 m3/s.

The skyrocketing flow levels are expected to rise the river by about two metres.

The city said staff at the Water Treatment Plant are monitoring the incoming raw river quality and are adjusting treatment processes to ensure residents get high-quality water.

What is the froth floating in the river?

You may have noticed a frothy substance hovering on the river that became particularly noticeable on Tuesday morning.

According to a statement from the city, this naturally-occurring substance is known as stream foam or froth.

The froth is formed from dissolved organic matter, the breakdown of debris such as sticks, leaves, and watershed soils.

When this matter interacts with moving water, tiny air bubbles form and create a lower surface tension. This causes water to flow away from that spot and allows foam to stay put.

“Natural foam buildup is more prevalent in streams and rivers after rainfall because more water is moving through the ground, and more organic matter is being dissolved,” reads the release.

“With higher water, more turbulent conditions for bubbles, and the (dissolved organic matter) attaches to these, forming foam at the surface.”

The rising river is the result of a major storm on Sunday that left Prince Albert pelted with heavy rain and hail. According to Environment Canada, Prince Albert saw 19.7 mm of rainfall that day.