Rural Sask. residents wait for water after Husky spill, and for answers about compensation

With her water supply cut off due to the Husky oil spill, rural residents like Sarah Anderson want answers about when their water supply will be turned back on.

Sarah Anderson wants to know who will pay for her new water storage system

Sarah Anderson stands in front of a portable water tank with her son, Hunter, 7. Anderson's family are spending their own money to store water on their rural property near Prince Albert. Prior to the Husky oil spill, the family relied on water from the North Saskatchewan River. (Submitted by Sarah Anderson)

With her water supply cut off because of the Husky oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River, Sarah Anderson is preparing to buy a second water storage system worth between $800 and $1,200. 

As a resident of the Rural Municipality of Prince Albert, Anderson's water supply has been halted indefinitely and her existing tank is almost dry, so water is an immediate concern. 

Although finding water to fill the tanks is a problem she has not solved yet, the Rural Municipality of Prince Albert's water utility has been delivering water to some rural residents. 

Who will pay?

Another question looming over Anderson's family of four is whether the cost of buying the tank will be covered.

"I approached our RM, they have stated that everything will be 100 per cent covered by Husky, then I phoned Husky and they were actually very good to talk to, but they are saying that nothing is guaranteed," she said. 
Hunter Anderson, 7, poses on top of the family's primary water reservoir. (Submitted by Sarah Anderson)

On Tuesday, the RM's rural water utility was encouraging its residents to keep all receipts for bottled water and other purchases in the belief that Husky Energy, whose oil pipeline spilled into the community's primary drinking water source, will provide compensation. 

Husky has set up a toll-free phone number to Braemar, a third-party insurance agent, for private citizen and business claims. 

The company said each claim was unique and would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The rural water utility usually purchases and supplies water from the City of Prince Albert, but the city has cut off its supply to the RM to give priority its own residents.

Water restrictions are being enforced in the city after it shut off its water intake system following the upstream oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River.

A 30-kilometre, temporary waterline to pump water from the South Saskatchewan River to the city is expected to be completed on Friday. 

City of Prince Albert manager Jim Toye told reporters on Thursday the city would not restart the pumps to rural communities until it knew how much water the new line would supply. 

"What we do not want to do is provide them service for two days and have to stop again," said Toye. 

Finding a way

In the meantime, Anderson said she and her neighbours were finding resourceful ways to store and recycle water. 

She knows of one rural resident who is redirecting water from a swimming pool to a holding tank to be used for showering and flushing toilets. 
Sarah Anderson poses with her son, Hunter, and husband, Kyle. Anderson says Husky told her there was no guarantee she would be reimbursed for the cost of the water tank. (Submitted by Sarah Anderson)

Anderson is worried it could be weeks before her taps are running normally again. 

"The thing that is frustrating about this is that there's really no answers for us, as rural people … as to when our water will come back on," she said.

The City of Prince Albert is asking residents or businesses with insurance questions to call Braemar at 1-844-461-7991 and fill out a claim over the phone or request a claim form through email at

With files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning