Saskatoon

Prince Albert stretching a 30 km waterline to bring cleaner water into the city

A 30-kilometre waterline will bring water from the South Saskatchewan River to Prince Albert’s water treatment plant as the city prepares for 200,000 litres of oil to pass by.

Pipeline will bring water from the South Saskatchewan River near Muskoday First Nation

City of Prince Albert shares how it plans to protect community's drinking water from oil plume drifting down North Saskatchewan River 17:15

A 30-kilometre waterline will bring water from the South Saskatchewan River to Prince Albert's water treatment plant as the city prepares for a plume of 200,000 litres of oil to pass by the city.

According to the city a waterline, currently being rolled out, will be used to temporarily bring water from Muskoday First Nation, in a two-month plan to ensure Prince Albert residents continue to have access to clean, potable water. 

On Sunday, officials in Prince Albert updated residents on the state of the city's water situation after a Husky Energy oil pipeline leaked near Highway 21, about 300 metres from the North Saskatchewan River shore. The Ministry of Environment said the oil ended up surfacing on land and running into the river near Maidstone, Sask.

The waterline will go along Highway 302 to Prince Albert city limits, following the riverbank and running along River Street to the raw water intake reservoir at the city's water treatment plant. 

About 10 kilometres of waterline has been put down so far, and the city expects the remaining work to be complete early this week.

In the meantime, the city said it plans to shut down the intake to its water treatment plant when the plume of oil inches closer, to ensure no contaminants get in.

According to the city, Prince Albert's water system has enough water to last until the end of the week, but that's dependent on residents and businesses conserving water.

"Any non-essential use of water must cease and desist immediately. Residents are encouraged to minimize flushing water and shower usage," said Jeff Da Silva, public works manager for the city said.
Prince Albert is preparing a water pipeline to feed its water treatment plant as a plume of oil is expected to flow by this week. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

Heavy water users, such as car washes and laundromats, will be asked to temporarily close. City irrigation services, paddling pools and the Kinsmen Water Park are also all shut down.

A special city council meeting has been called for Monday afternoon, to enact a bylaw restricting water usage by businesses and residents. Officials said the North Saskatchewan River is not safe for swimming or recreational use.

Starting Monday residents can call (306) 953-4305 or email connectwithus@citypa.ca, to speak with city representatives about any questions or concerns.

City manager Jim Toye said the city is working with Husky, asking the company to cover the costs incurred by the spill. 

The breach

The course of the North Saskatchewan River, highlighted from Maidstone eastwards. A leak from a Husky Energy pipeline near Maidstone led to some 200,000 litres of heavy oil entering the river Thursday. (CBC)

On Thursday, July 21, Husky Energy reported a break in its pipeline near Highway 21. A spokesperson said the ensuing spill was the equivalent of about two railcars' worth of oil. According to Husky, some of that heavy oil, which is mixed with a thinning chemical, then leaked into the North Saskatchewan River.

The company said it shut the pipelines, which are part of its Saskatchewan gathering system, to halt the release of any more oil.

On Sunday a government spokesperson said roughly 100 cubic metres of product have been recovered from land- and water-skimming containment efforts. Work continues on managing and maintaining booms at five locations along the North Saskatchewan River, including a boom at the Paynton ferry river crossing, two at North Battleford and one near Maymont.

Observers along the river reported seeing little evidence of surface oil at the Paynton ferry crossing.

The government said it's too soon to predict if the plume will make it  to Manitoba, but based on the collection of oil at the booms, they expect the plume to diminish as it continues down the river. 

With files from CBC's Devin Heroux