The Oilsands and the Athabasca River's Fickle Flows
The water supply for the thirsty oilsands may not be sufficient in future.
Dr. David Sauchyn, a geographer and Senior Research Scientist at the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina, reconstructed historic flows of the Athabasca, going back 900 years, based on tree ring data. What he discovered is that the water levels in the river varied much more than recent experience would suggest.
He found evidence of droughts up to decades long, during which water levels were lower than anything seen in modern times. This suggests that water might limit the growth of the oil sands in the future, unless ways to make more efficient use of water are developed.