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River water cleared for community use by WSA

Pipes will be opening back up along the eastern stretch of the North Saskatchewan River.

According to a news release issued by the Water Security Agency, the communities of North Battleford, Prince Albert, and Melfort will now be able to take in and treat water from the river, as well as the Codette Reservoir. The river water intakes of those communities were shut down earlier in the summer, after a Husky pipeline near Maidstone leaked oil into the river.

The release goes on to state that the decision by WSA was made after 88 per cent of the oil in the river was recovered, along with the conducting of technical studies and monitoring of the river.

The news release also indicates that WSA requested an overall water safety assessment from the technical group working during the oil spill response, aimed to address human health threats, the fate of the oil, treatment requirements and long-term monitoring.

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“The water safety assessment was reviewed by an internal Government of Saskatchewan science committee, external academic experts from the Universities of Saskatchewan and Alberta, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada, and engineering consultants for the municipalities,” reads the release.

“The assessment indicated that oil components detected in the North Saskatchewan River do not present unacceptable health risks to residents whose treated water supply will be sourced from the river once intake use restarts.  The results of the reports and testing done by the technical working group are consistent with what WSA found through an independent water sampling program.”

As for how municipalities should proceed from this point forward, the agency advised for the adjustment of water treatment process to account for the current state of the river, ensuring all quality regulations are met.

They also advised for municipalities to test samples of treated water for petroleum after re-starting the intakes, and to advise the consumers of the water of potential changes to the water as the systems come back online.

“The municipalities of North Battleford and Prince Albert, with funding from Husky Energy, will be investing in further temporary pre-treatment and treatment options,” reads the release.

“WSA supports the municipalities in taking further treatment options and taking a cautious approach to restarting their intakes.”

Advisories related to the watering of livestock and recreational usage are now lifted, with the  impacts to fish and wildlife still undergoing examination.

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