Water is finally flowing through temporary pipelines to cities and towns in northern Saskatchewan following an oil spill nearly two weeks ago that sent between 200,000 and 250,000 litres of oil into the North Saskatchewan River.
But officials in Prince Albert, North Battleford and Melfort must now figure out how to access clean, potable water if the river remains contaminated when winter arrives in three months.
Prince Albert’s city manager says when the cold weather arrives, “we can’t be above ground with what’s providing our safe, potable water.”
Jim Toye says options being discussed in the wake of the Husky Energy spill include installing facilities to remove hydrocarbons from water drawn from the North Saskatchewan River to make river water contaminated with oil suitable for drinking.
Affected communities have been relying on stored water in reservoirs to supply treatment plants.
Prince Albert constructed two temporary, above-ground lines to other rivers in the region.
One line is up and running, but neither line works in freezing temperatures.
Prince Albert, North Battleford and Melfort all shut off their intakes from the North Saskatchewan River shortly after the breach in the pipeline near Maidstone.
About 70,000 residents in the region been affected.
With files from CBC, CP.