As reported last week, Ramsay residents are up in arms over the Calgary Stampede's request to house up to 40 horses in corrals on the floodplain of the Elbow River, just metres from the river's edge. Stampede has assured the community the corrals will be temporary (for about a month each summer) and will be cleaned daily.
Nevertheless, residents worry horse manure and urine could still make its way into the nearby river — it's an environmental and health hazard many in the community argue. And their concerns could be justified.
According to the city's water department, E. coli levels in the river at the 9th Avenue S.E. bridge (just downstream from the proposed corrals) have reached upwards of 2,400 counts per 100 mL — 12 times higher than what Alberta Environment deems acceptable for recreational waters.
"The geometric mean of at least five samples taken during a period not to exceed 30 days should not exceed 200 E. coli per 100 mL." — Alberta Environment
The readings don't indicate if the bacteria caused by humans, wildlife or livestock. There are about 60 outflows along the Elbow River, so pinpointing the Stampede as the sole source of the bacteria wouldn't be fair.
City council will vote today whether to allow the Stampede to proceed with building the corrals on the floodplain.