Creek foam examined

Brackish water appears to be creating the brownish foam some people have seen building up at slow spots on Piper Creek as it meanders through Red Deer.

Brackish water appears to be creating the brownish foam some people have seen building up at slow spots on Piper Creek as it meanders through Red Deer.

City residents Scott and Julie Court grew concerned after seeing the sludge during their regular walk on the city path between Kin Canyon and Spruce Drive.

“We were concerned because we have been walking these paths for years and this is the first time that we saw such a big amount of foam in the water,” the Courts said in an email sent to the Advocate earlier this week.

It appears that the foam is a natural event, probably a result of hot, dry weather, said Smiley Douglas, supervisor for the city’s water treatment plant.

After hearing about the Courts’ concern, Douglas asked a source investigator with Environmental Services to go down and take a look. The investigator visited the creek and took a few water samples.

From what he has seen so far, the foam is produced when microorganisms, including algae and other species, die in the creek and start to decompose.

Bubbles form when the decomposing materials are exposed to air, which is why the foam is commonly seen where the creek runs through fallen trees and other debris, said Douglas.

While the foam appears to be a natural occurrence, samples have been sent for testing. It will be two to three weeks before results are returned.

Douglas said Environmental Services is particularly concerned if people start seeing oily films or sludges on the creeks.

Piper Creek flows northward past Westerner Park and into the city centre on its journey to the Red Deer River.

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