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The South Saskatchewan River (French: rivière Saskatchewan Sud) is a major river in Canadamarker that flows through the provinces of Albertamarker and Saskatchewanmarker.

For the first half of the 20th century, the South Saskatchewan would completely freeze over during winter, creating spectacular ice breaks and dangerous conditions in Saskatoonmarker, Medicine Hatmarker and elsewhere. At least one bridge in Saskatoon was destroyed by ice carried by the river. The construction of the Gardiner Dammarker in the 1960s, however, lessened the power of the river and by the 1980s many permanent sandbars had formed due to the lowering of the level of the river.

From the headwaters of the Bow River, the South Saskatchewan flows for . At its mouth at Saskatchewan River Forks, it has an average discharge of 280 m³/s, and has a watershed of 146,100 km², 1,800 of which are in Montanamarker in the USAmarker, and 144,300 km² in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
(Webpage shows that the South Saskatchewan River has a much higher flow than the Saskatchewan River. But since the South is a tributary of the Saskatchewan River, it must be assumed that the data is reversed.)


Course

The river originates at the confluence of the Bow and Oldman Rivers near Grassy Lake, Albertamarker. The waters of these two rivers, in turn, originate from glaciers in the Rocky Mountains near the British Columbiamarker border. The Red Deer Rivermarker is a major tributary of the South Saskatchewan merging east of the Alberta-Saskatchewan border. The Lake Diefenbakermarker reservoir was created with the construction of the Gardinermarker and Qu'Appelle Rivermarker dams in Saskatchewanmarker. Water from the South Saskatchewan flowing through the dams provides much of the electricity in the province.

Downstream from the dam the river flows north through Saskatoonmarker and joins the North Saskatchewan River east of Prince Albertmarker at the Saskatchewan River Forks — thus forming the Saskatchewan River. For approximately 60 km near Saskatoon, the Meewasin Valley Authority is responsible for conservation of the river environment. Numerous lakes in the Saskatoon area were formed by oxbow of the South Saskatchewan River, most notably Moon Lake and Pike Lake.

A study which analysed the river flow on ten major Canadian rivers has reported that the South Saskatchewan River is the most at risk. Damsmarker producing Hydroelectricity, climate change, agricultural, urban infrastructure water use have all combined to reduce the South Saskatchewan River 70%. Developers and governments have been cautioned to protect and restore the river with sustainable projects and limit water diversion. Dickson Dam regulates water supply downstream on the Red Deer River, Bassano Dam and 11 other dams divert water on the Bow River and in the Bow River basin, The Oldman River Dam, and Waterton-St. Mary Headworks System manage water flow downstream of the Oldman River. The proposed Meridian dam west of Leadermarker and north east of Medicine Hatmarker was cancelled due to project costs outweighing the irrigation benefits.

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