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Water Security Agency Gives Communities Approval to Use Water From the North Saskatchewan River

Released on September 16, 2016

The Water Security Agency (WSA) is advising the communities of North Battleford, Prince Albert and Melfort as well as SaskWater that they may start diverting and treating water from the North Saskatchewan River and Codette Reservoir.

The water intakes for these communities were shut down in July after a Husky Energy pipeline near Maidstone leaked oil into the river.  The decision by WSA to allow the communities to turn on the water intakes and start to treat water from the river and reservoir comes after approximately 88 per cent of the oil has been recovered in addition to conducting significant technical study, monitoring and review.

WSA requested an overall water safety assessment from the technical group working as part of the oil spill response to address human health threats, the fate of the oil, treatment requirements and long-term monitoring.

The water safety assessment was reviewed by an internal Government of Saskatchewan science committee, external academic experts from the Universities of Saskatchewan and Alberta, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada, and engineering consultants for the municipalities.

The assessment indicated that oil components detected in the North Saskatchewan River do not present unacceptable health risks to residents whose treated water supply will be sourced from the river once intake use restarts.  The results of the reports and testing done by the technical working group are consistent with what WSA found through an independent water sampling program.

WSA is also advising the municipalities to take the following actions:

  • Adjust their water treatment process to account for the current water quality of the sources, ensuring all standard regulations on quality are met;
  • Collect samples of treated water and test for petroleum components shortly after restarting use of the intakes before it goes to the distribution system;
  • Advise their consumers of a potential change in water quality as systems are brought back online.
The municipalities of North Battleford and Prince Albert, with funding from Husky Energy, will be investing in further temporary pre-treatment and treatment options.  WSA supports the municipalities in taking further treatment options and taking a cautious approach to restarting their intakes.

The advisories in relation to livestock watering and recreational use like water skiing and other activities are also now lifted.  Evaluations and assessments of impacts to aquatic life and other uses (fish and wildlife) are ongoing and separate from this assessment.

The full water safety assessment can be viewed at www.wsask.ca.

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For more information, contact:

Patrick Boyle
Water Security Agency
Moose Jaw
Phone: 306-694-8914
Email: Patrick.Boyle@wsask.ca
Cell: 306-631-6997

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