30 km waterline from Prince Albert to South Sask. River won't be ready until Friday

A waterline connecting the South Saskatchewan River to the city of Prince Albert’s water treatment plant won’t be ready until at least Friday, officials say, due to unforeseen circumstances on the ground.

City detention pond providing water until waterline is connected

Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne and city officials say the waterline to the South Saskatchewan River won't be ready until at least Friday. (CBC)

A waterline connecting the South Saskatchewan River to the city of Prince Albert's water treatment plant won't be ready until at least Friday, officials say.

On Tuesday, the city updated media on its water supply after a Husky Energy pipeline leaked oil into the North Saskatchewan River last week.

City manager Jim Toye said due to unforeseen circumstances, the timeline to get a 30-kilometre waterline hooked up to the city's water treatment plant is taking a little longer than expected.

"The goal would be to have it operational on Friday," Toye said.

He added thanks to residents and businesses conserving water, the city's supply of water in its reservoir is more than 50 per cent full, in far better shape than they expected.

The city is also drawing water from a detention pond feeding about four to five days worth of treatable water to the water treatment plant, extending the city's supply until the end of the week.

"We're in no danger of running out of water," Toye said. "This means we will continue to have water for city residents and businesses, but we won't be able to extend beyond the city."
The North Saskatchewan River in Prince Albert on Tuesday, July 26. (Matthew Garand/CBC)

Rural customers getting help from province

A provincial government agency is providing about 95 litres of water a day to rural residents in need of water. Toye said that's information he received from the province earlier on Tuesday.

Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne responded to questions about why rural water customers weren't given notice on Sunday before their water was turned off. Dionne said he's surprised the rural water utility didn't give rural customers notice because, he said, the city informed them about the oil problem as early as Friday.

"What they are hanging their hat on is in the agreement it says give written 24-hour notice, and they claim they didn't give their residents notice because we didn't give them written notice," Dionne said. "That's a pretty weak thing when you were told on Friday."

The mayor added once the waterline from the South Saskatchewan River is connected and feeding oil-free water into the city's water treatment plant, they'll see if they can turn the water back on for rural customers.

"So we are doing our best and our priority is once we get this pumping system set up on Friday. We hope to get enough volume that they will be the priority to turn the water back on," he said.

Ken Danger, who is with the rural water utility, said his staff have been constantly dealing with calls from upset rural customers over the lack of notice in shutting their water supply off Sunday morning.

"A lot of them are really stressed out because they can't flush toilets, they have no drinking water, they can't wash their hands, so we really have to feel for a lot of our customers," Danger told CBC News.

He urged rural customers to keep receipts of bottled-water purchases, in hopes that Husky may provide compensation for those people shut off from the city's water supply.
Ken Danger with the rural water utility in Prince Albert says he feels for the 1,200 customers who had their water shut off without notice on Sunday. (Matthew Garand/CBC)

"We all believe if Husky polluted the water they should be on the hook to pay for it and yes I would encourage people to save their receipts and track their costs because if there is a potential to recover their cost from Husky they should be in a position to do so," Danger said.

Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said residents in the city should not expect reimbursement from Husky if they're buying up bottled water because the city is still providing potable water.

"Our water is safe and consumable, but we'll have to wait and see Husky's response to that," Dionne said, adding Husky has indicated they will compensate businesses like car washes and laundromats for having to close during this oil-spill incident.

With files from CBC's Jennifer Quensel