Prince Albert to update oil spill, North Battleford restricts water usage

The City of Prince Albert will hold a news conference on Sunday to update the public on how it will protect the local water supply from an oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River.

The City of Prince Albert will outline plans to protect its water supply at 3:30 p.m. CST

An oil plume from a pipeline leak is drifting down the North Saskatchewan River. (Jason Franson/Canadian Press)

As the City of North Battleford introduces water restrictions, the City of Prince Albert is preparing to update the public on its plan to protect the water supply from an oil spill in the North Saskatchewan River. 

Officials from Prince Albert, Sask., say the update at 3:30 p.m. CST will highlight plans to ensure residents continue to have access to reliable, safe, potable water. 

There are reports that a 27-kilometre pipeline is being built to move water from the South Saskatchewan River, which passes through Saskatoon, to Prince Albert. 

The community of more than 30,000 people is located about 140 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. 

Prince Albert's plan

A plume of oil mixed with a thinning chemical, which leaked from a pipeline break reported by Husky Energy on Thursday, is drifting downstream towards the city.

An estimated 200,000 to 250,000 litres of oil reached the river, with some entering the water near Maidstone, Sask.

A clean-up effort is underway to retrieve oil from the spill, which amounted to the volume of about two rail cars, but the city said it plans to shut down its water treatment plant before the oil reaches its intake system. 

On Saturday afternoon, the city activated its emergency operations centre to prepare a contingency plan after noting that a boom set up to contain an oil spill upstream had been breached. 

The City will also hold a special council meeting on Monday to pass a new proposed bylaw regarding restricted water use. 

North Battleford responds

Officials in North Battleford, which is also downstream of the leak, already stopped drawing water from the river and are relying on well water. 

The community of about 14,000 has two sources for its water supplies: water processed from the river and water from wells.

On Sunday, the city introduced a series of restrictions on water usage to conserve its supplies. 

Although residents can still use water for daily use, such as drinking, food preparation and bathing, they are prohibited from outdoor cleaning and watering gardens or lawns. The city said non-compliance would result in fines.  

Car washes and laundromats will also be closed, and other large water users will be contacted.

Preparations underway

Hospitals in both communities are filling up their water reserves.

Although the oil slick was not visible in Prince Albert early on Sunday afternoon, some residents were already prepared for restrictions on water usage. 

With files from Devin Heroux