P.A. shuts off water intake; contamination could last for months

By Dana Reynolds, originally posted on July 25, 2016


According to Prince Albert city manager Jim Toye, the intake at the water treatment centre from the North Saskatchewan River has been shut off.

Toye said the city has roughly 48 hours worth of water in its reservoirs and are attempting to obtain another four days from a storm retention pond. While this storm water usually drains out into the river, it could potentially be diverted to the water treatment plant.

This source, however, is not a sure thing as Toye said the pond water poses “challenges.”

“We’re working with water security agencies to make sure it fits all the criteria, because it is different from river water, there’s no doubt about it, so there might be some special things we’ll have to do. We always want to make sure we’re providing save, potable water to our citizens and our businesses, and if that’s at risk we will not use it,” he said.

According to the city the oil plume has entered city limits. It was visually detected upstream approaching the city.

A temporary pipeline is currently under construction, which Toye said should be completed by mid-morning Wednesday, July 27. The pipeline will stretch 30 km southeast of the city, downstream from Muskoday First Nation. Toye said the water from the South Saskatchewan should be of the same or similar quality to the water the city currently receives.

While Toye implied the city was doing what it could, he stopped short of painting a rose-coloured picture. The city manager called the situation “very, very onerous for the city.”

“The problem with this whole thing, it’s very unique, traditionally hydrocarbon will stay on top of the river. Because of rain events and other issues…it has cascaded or made it all the way down the water column, which is from the top of right to the river bottom,” he said.

Toye thought the city could be dealing with the oil slick for months as there were complicated variables to consider. He did say, however, the overland pipeline could potentially provide water until the winter.

The city asks residents conserve their water and only use it for essential means.

On July 21, roughly 200,000 to 250,000 litres of heavy oil mixed with diluent escaped from a Husky Energy pipeline east of Lloydminster near the Highway 21 bridge.

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