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Wascana Park

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Interpretive Panel:
wascana creek, a lazy little stream

(Click on a picture for larger view)

 

Wascana Creek is what one would call a lazy little stream. It slowly winds its way across the local prairie and ata casual glance, the water appears to be hardly moving at all. Except for the spring runoff and after summer rains, it generally doesn't As it crosses the city, the creek only declines, on average, 25 centimetres for each kilometre it travels. Yet, this small stream is a critical part of the natural water system of Regina and district.

Wascana Creek takes in water from a large area. It originates in the fields east of Regina, near Vibank, travels southeasterly for approximately 45 kilometres before turnimg back west at Tyvan. The creek then travels northwestwardly through Regina and enters the Qu'Appelle River just west of Lumsden. In total, the creek and its tributaries drain over 2,200 square kilometres of land and annually send 15 billion litres of water over the weir (just to your right), under the Albert Memorial Bridge.

The slow natural flow in the creek also creates another issue: sediment build-up along the bottom. At present, sediment accumulates at an average rate of 6mm per year. Between 1930 and 1990 about 25% of the volume of the lake was lost due to sedimentation which led to the "Big Dig" project on the western portion of the lake in 2004.

Despite the significant amount of water it carries, the creek channel is for the most part not well-defined. With only modest creek walls and no valley, the slow speed of the water allows wide meanders and stable marshes to form within the channel, including the marsh on eastern side of Wascana Centre, the creek meanders for 41 kilometres although the actual distance is only 27 kilometres. These conditions also make the creek prone to flooding, which has occured numerous times in Regina during the past century. Concerns about flooding and, more importantly, a need for a local supply of water, propted the construction of the first dam across the creek in 1883. In 1914 water from the lake began to be used in the boilers of the City's new electric power plant. This industrial use was complemented by increasin use of the lake water for irrigation in city parks and the capital grounds. Today, only irrigation use continues and most of the lake water is left for recreational and natural uses.

Wascana Creek is such a lazy little stream, many do not appreciate its impact. Yet its waters create the marshes we explore, irrigate the grass we walk on here and fill the lake we use and admire. The creek also carries a large amount of water into the Qu'Appelle River, linking our little stream with the water cycle of the province.