Water service back online for rural customers near Prince Albert, Sask.

Regular water services continue to be restored for communities impacted by a Husky Energy oil spill three weeks ago. On Monday’s provincial officials said regular water services are slowly coming back online in North Battleford and Prince Albert.

Waterlines from South Saskatchewan River and Little Red River feeding water treatment plant

Prince Albert has three water supplies feeding into the water treatment plant, filling reservoirs before going into the distribution system. (Don Somers/CBC)

Regular water services continue to be restored for communities impacted by a Husky Energy oil spill three weeks ago.

On Monday's provincial officials said regular water services are coming back online and cities affected by the oil spill continue to work on securing alternative water sources.

North Battleford waterline

Over the weekend the city of North Battleford hoped to start pumping water from the town of Battleford to the city. However, water samples collected from the temporary waterline came back positive for total coliform, bacteria commonly found in surface water and from human and animal waste.

The line was subsequently flushed on Sunday and more samples were taken. But because those samples take about 24 hours to complete, officials in North Battleford expect to start pumping water from Battleford as early as Tuesday, assuming the samples come back clean.

Sam Ferris with the Water Security Agency said additional wells are being dug in North Battleford to supply the city's groundwater treatment plant to shore up a safe water supply in the event the waterline to Battleford runs into problems.

Prince Albert water coming back on

Ferris said Prince Albert has been treating water from the South Saskatchewan River waterline overnight and over the weekend, feeding approximately 14,000 cubic metres of water into the city's water treatment plant. This comes in light of no interruptions on the waterline stretching 30 kilometres east of the city to the South Saskatchewan River.

"People are slowly being added to the system and it was meant to avoid a massive demand of water all at the same time as the city ramped up production," Ferris said.

He added the main concern for the Prince Albert water treatment plant was whether or not the system would be able to cope with different water quality sources coming into the same plant, including water from the Little Red River, the South Saskatchewan River and water from the storm retention ponds.

"I think the answer is the water treatment plant proved they can handle any changes," Ferris said.

In light of the supply the city has been able to turn water back on to the rural water utility, however the waterline feeding the rural customers is under a precautionary drinking water advisory until more tests can be conducted on the line feeding those rural homes. Those tests are being conducted today in hopes the advisory can be lifted later this week.

Water supply to the Saskatchewan Federal Penitentiary resumed on Monday according to the city. Since the oil spill the penitentiary was responsible for sourcing its own water supply after the city had to shut down its water treatment plant in light of the oil spill. 

Oil spill cleanup continues

The Ministry of Environment described the current situation on the North Saskatchewan River as stable following an 250 cubic metre oil spill from a Husky Energy pipeline.

Dr. Kevin McCullum said there continues to be 600 people involved in the cleanup and they've recovered about 140 cubic metres of oil. He added the goal is to recover all the oil that spilled in the river, however that may be impossible because some oil may have been degraded in the water and evaporated.

With files from CBC's Devin Heroux