Edmonton Journal - December 12th

An investigation into a well blowout near Innisfail last January that spewed oily liquid over a farm field concludes it was the fault of a company fracking a neighbouring well.

However, no enforcement order is contemplated because the actions of the company were not in violation of Energy Resources Conservation Board regulations at the time.

In a report released Wednesday, the ERCB notes that Midway Energy Ltd.’s well completion operations resulted in an increase in pressure in a nearby Wild Stream Exploration Inc. well, causing a release of about 500 barrels of fracturing and formation fluid to surface at the wellhead. ... Click here to read more.

The ERCB launched a new webtool at the end of November called the Thermal In Situ (TIS) Water Publication.

Click here to see the TIS Water Publication on the ERCB website.

The following is a description of the tool from their November 21st bulletin:

Thermal In Situ (TIS) Water Publication

In conjunction with the directive, the ERCB announces a new, interactive website publication of monthly and annual water use at all commercial thermal in situ schemes. The TIS water publication includes the following, on a scheme basis:

  • water disposal limits and actual water disposal,
  • produced water recycle and produced water-to-steam injection ratios,
  • water productivity ratios (fresh water, brackish water, and disposal), and
  • make-up water use.

Edmonton Journal - December 13th

In a sudden move, oilsands companies this week chopped in half funding to the region’s major environmental policy group and called for an immediate review of the need for the 12-year old Cumulative Environment Management Association.

The funding cutback — to $2.5 million down from last year’s $5 million — will be a major setback to developing environmental policies for the oilsands, said Glen Semenchuk, executive director of CEMA, a stakeholder committee made up of representatives of oilsands companies, First Nations, environmental groups and government.

Semenchuk also rejected the industry’s suggestion that CEMA, which provides government with scientifically based policy recommendations and technical reports, is near the end of its mandate and is running out of work. ... Click here to read more.

Fort McMurray Today - December 7th

Thousands of Canadian lakes, rivers and streams will no longer be protected by the federal government, including several waterways held sacred and culturally important to aboriginals in Wood Buffalo.

The Conservatives’ omnibus bill overhauls the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which says federal approval is required for development that may affect the thousands of bodies of water crisscrossing Canada.

Under the new legislation, only 97 lakes, the three oceans and 62 creeks, rivers and canals will be protected. However, waterways that Aboriginals in northeastern Alberta deem “culturally significant” will no longer be protected.

Lake Athabasca and the Athabasca River will continue to be protected. However, hundreds of streams, rivers and tributaries in the region, such as the Muskeg River, will not. ... Click here to read more.

Western Wheel - December 5th

Poor attendance at a recent information session outlining plans for shared water services between three communities and the MD of Foothills has mayors questioning residents’ view on the project.

Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck said few residents attended the Quad Regional Water Partnership (QRWP) open house involving Turner Valley, Black Diamond, Longview and the MD of Foothills at the Sheep River Library on Nov. 29.

“I don’t know how to take that,” she said. “I don’t know if the information is getting out there. I truly hope there is interest in our community.”

Tuck said the QRWP committee will have to come up with another plan to inform residents of the proposed project. Ideas include putting information in water bills and going door to door.

“All of the information needs to be out there to the public so it’s very transparent,” she said.... Click here to


Edmonton Journal - December 2nd

For almost 20 years, thick, toxic sludge has poured into Syncrude’s tailings pond, the leftovers from the massive oilsands mine just off Highway 63, north of Fort McMurray. But not for much longer.

In just three weeks, the flow of tailings into Base Mine Lake will be stopped, the giant pipes removed and millions of litres of fresh water added as the company begins its landmark — and long-term — effort to turn the large tailings pond into a clean lake.

Syncrude has been working on the technology for 25 years in smaller tests ponds. If it works on this larger scale, the company will have the answer for a very stubborn problem facing every oilsands miner — how to clean and reclaim the toxic tailings ponds. ... Click here to read more.

The Drumheller Mail - November 22nd

Alberta Sustainable Resource Development has opened a salvage fishery at the Berry Creek Reservoir in hopes of harvesting the fish before winter.

A floodgate on the dam of the reservoir has malfunctioned and the water level may be too low to allow the fish to survive over winter. They hope to harvest the populations that could be lost over the winter.

Carrie Sancartier, spokesperson for Alberta Sustainable Resources Development explains the dam was built in the mid-1960s and following a review, it was found that it needed rehabilitation to meet today’s safety standards. ... Click here to read more.

CBC - November 22nd

Talon is small town located in Pecos County, Texas. When town officials realized that drinking-water consumption by residents was well below the national average, they decided take action and three months ago began adding sugar to their water supply to make drinking it more desirable. According to Hester Griggs, the Commissioner of Utilities for Talon, they are adding roughly "4 tablespoons of sugar for every 8 oz. cup of water." Earlier today, Pat Kelly spoke with Mr. Griggs to find out how residents are responding to this initiative. ... Click here to read more.

Calgary Herald - November 14th

Alberta’s water will not be for sale outside of its borders, the province’s environment minister told an audience of political leaders from across rural Alberta on Tuesday.

Environment and Sustainable Resource Minister Diana McQueen made the comments as she reminded hundreds of locally elected leaders gathered at the Shaw Conference Centre for the Alberta Association of Municipal Counties and Districts convention about the province’s plans to consult with Albertans in the new year about a range of water-related issues.

“When we talk about water in this province, Premier Redford has been extremely clear, as I have as minister, we are not going to be selling water to other jurisdictions like the United States,” McQueen said. ... Click here to read more.

Bonnyville Nouvelle - November 14th

The Water is Vital for Life petition was presented to MLA for Bonnyville – Cold Lake Genia Leskiw yesterday, which included over 3,300 signatures.

“It’s great what you’re doing,” said Leskiw as she accepted the petition from Corita Vachon and Crystal Gliege. “You didn’t just complain, you took the bull by the horns and decided to do something about it so kudos to you.”

Vachon outlined a number of health-related affects long-term exposure to Trihalomethanes (THMs) and Haloacetic acids (HAAs) can have on a human body, both of which have been found in Bonnyville’s treated water, which comes from Moose Lake. ... Click here to read more.

Edmonton Journal - November 9th

Researchers in Alberta are digging into a controversial technique used to extract natural gas and oil that some say causes earthquakes.

Teams from the University of Calgary and University of Alberta want to listen to hydraulic fracture treatments or fracking, as it's more commonly known.

"What it involves is installation of sensors that are called geophones, usually in a deep borehole, but sometimes also at the surface," David Eaton, a University of Calgary geophysics professor and lead investigator, said Thursday. ... Click here to read more.

Market Watch - November 5th

Water shortages could be China’s own version of the perfect storm, potentially blowing a hole in carefully laid plans of an incoming generation of leaders.

Targets for moderately fast economic development, seen as crucial for the Communist Party to maintain its grip on power, no longer seem so easy to achieve as China is running shy of the water needed to leverage up the electrical-power generation it requires to meet those targets.

Switching the energy mix between nuclear, hydro-power, coal or even the exploitation of promising shale-gas deposits, doesn’t really add up because of a shrinking water supply. ... Click here to read more.

Calgary Herald - November 5th

Environment Canada scientists have confirmed results published by researchers from the University of Alberta showing contaminants accumulating in the snow near oilsands operations, an internal federal document has revealed.

They also discovered contaminants in precipitation from testing in the region.

But the researchers were discouraged from speaking to reporters about their findings, first presented at a November 2011 conference in Boston of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, says the document, released to Postmedia News through access to information. ... Click here to read more.

CBC News Calgary - November 2nd

A team of students at the University of Calgary have developed bacteria that could destroy the toxins in oilsands tailings ponds.

Graduate student advisor David Lloyd said Friday the bacteria will not only eat the toxins, it will convert them into oil.

“We've engineered an organism that's going to be able to take toxins, eat them up, and convert them into oil for us. Something useful for industry and also at the same time environmentally friendly and cleaning up those large areas of water," said Lloyd. ... Click here to read more.



Calgary Herald - October 18th

Dozens of scientists took a bus early Wednesday to the middle of the snow-covered Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefield, stepping into a site that’s known as Canada’s hydrological apex.

Along the edges, there are signs the glacier was once wider.

At the bottom, markers show how much it’s retreated — more than 1.5 kilometres in the past 125 years.

The tour — led by the University of Calgary’s Shawn Marshall and Michael Demuth of the Geological Survey of Canada — is a stark reminder of how quickly Alberta’s Rocky Mountain glacier cover is melting away and what it could mean for future water supplies. ... Click here to read more.

Alberta Government - October 17th

Alberta will build the most comprehensive environmental monitoring program in Canada with the establishment of a new arm’s-length environmental monitoring agency.

The agency will be built on credible science, research and data collection. This is the key recommendation of the independent Environmental Monitoring Working Group report released by the Alberta government. The new science-based agency will begin work in the oil sands region and will focus on what is monitored, how it’s monitored and where it’s monitored. This will include integrated and coordinated monitoring of land, air, water and biodiversity.

A management board named by Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Diana McQueen will immediately begin work to set up the new agency. ... Click here to read more.

Edmonton Journal - October 17th

The company that owns a pipeline that leaked nearly 3,000 barrels of crude oil into a central Alberta river, fouling shorelines, says its cleanup is complete.

Plains Midstream Canada said in a news release Friday that it will return to the site of leak in the Red Deer River near Sundre next spring or early summer to inspect the sites again.

The Calgary-based company says Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development has approved its restoration efforts and closure of the sites. ... Click here to read more.


CBC News - October 17th

Despite Calgary’s near bursting rivers this summer, a Canadian water expert says people living here should be prepared for a major drought.

Dave Sauchyn, a water researcher at the University of Regina, traced the levels of the Bow River for the last thousand years.

Sauchyn says there's a very good likelihood Calgarians could experience a serious long-term drought. ... Click here to read more.


Camrose Canadian - October 16th

Although an application was filed 10 years ago, Alberta Environment officials say they are still waiting on more information from the City of Camrose, before moving forward on an increase in the city’s water allocation.

Camrose draws its water out of the Battle River and according to a city manager Damian Herle, the city is allocated for consumption of 8.45 million litres per day and currently uses 80 per cent of that allocation.

Cargill proposal adds to consumption

With the proposed Cargill canola crushing plant being announced this month, the city has renewed its aim at an increase in water allocation, as the Cargill plant is expected to consume 1.1 million litres per day. ... Click here to read more.




Calgary Herald - October 16th

A pair of recently published studies question the long-distance environmental impact of the oilsands.

The two studies from the University of Waterloo couldn't find any increase over time of toxic hydrocarbons or heavy metals in sediments from lakes and rivers on the Athabasca Delta north of the oilsands mines.

"We observe no measurable evidence of related far-field airborne metal contamination in the Peace–Athabasca Delta located (about) 200 km to the north," says one of the studies published in the online journal PlosOne.

The other study, published in Science of the Total Environment, comes to a similar conclusion about hydrocarbon deposits in lakes downstream of the mines. ... Click here to read more.




The Guardian - October 16th

Brandon Hunnicutt has had a year to remember. The young Nebraskan from Hamilton County farms 2,600 acres of the High Plains with his father and brother. What looked certain in an almost perfect May to be a "phenomenal" harvest of maize and soy beans has turned into a near disaster.

A three-month heatwave and drought with temperatures often well over 38C burned up his crops. He lost a third and was saved only by pumping irrigation water from the aquifer below his farm. "From 1 July to 1 October we had 4ins of rain and long stretches when we didn't have any. Folk in the east had nothing at all. They've been significantly hurt. We are left wondering whether the same will happen again," he says.

On the other side of the world, Mary Banda, who lives in Mphaka village near Nambuma in Malawi, has had a year during which she has barely been able to feed her


KVUE - October 16th

The town of Staples, Texas, sits aside the San Marcos River, and that river provides the community’s 250 residents with some of its potable water.

But, the price of water just went up in Staples… by about 9,900 percent for some residents. “Water is gold in Texas,” said resident Carol Wester.

Wester said when her water company was bought out by Crystal Clear Water Supply 18 months ago, the company mailed residents a notice about the change.

What they didn’t send, Wester said, was the fine print—that on the day of sale, any inactive water meters or accounts with balances still on the books would face a hook-up charge. Wester said, “The fee to reconnect the water went from $40 to more than $4,000 per meter.” ... Click here to read more.




Edmonton Journal - October 9th

The amount of fecal coliform entering the North Saskatchewan River from Edmonton has now dropped to levels last seen in 1910, according to monitoring and data modelling from the city’s drainage department.

No one continuously monitors water quality in the river for recreational use, but local experts agree tests on nearly any dry day in August or September will meet Health Canada guidelines.

That news will likely surprise people, says Stephanie Neufeld, watershed specialist with Epcor. ... Click here to read more.

 You can also read this Edmonton Journal blog entry which contains graphs and maps that readers have submitted for further information on river.


Okotoks Western Wheel - October 5th

The Town of Okotoks may have found a little more breathing room in regards to its water situation.

Town council voted to make an offer to purchase a number of water licenses after a closed-door session of its Sept. 10 meeting.

Okotoks’ municipal manager Rick Quail said the Town has a tentative agreement to buy the licenses, but he would not reveal any details about the licenses and how much water they would include. He said these details will remain confidential until after the purchase has been completed and the Town applies to Alberta Environment for approval. ... Click here to read more.



Okotoks Western Wheel - October 5th

A made in the foothills solution to the water woes in Okotoks and the surrounding area is a distinct possibility and may never require a water pipeline from Calgary, according to the MD of Foothills reeve.

Reeve Larry Spilak said the opportunity exists to accommodate water needs for Okotoks, the MD and High River within the foothills area.

“There is some potential, there is some additional water license available and certainly on the Highwood as well,” he said.

Spilak’s comments came after Okotoks town council voted to proceed with annexation, while at the same time rejecting a water pipeline from Calgary last week in favour of investigating alternatives within the foothills area. ... Click here to read more.