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North Battleford aiming to be back on river water in 2017

The closest city downstream of the Husky oil spill site is still not using water from the North Saskatchewan River.

The City of North Battleford is still drawing water from wells and purchasing it from the Town of Battleford.

Back in September, the Water Security Agency had ruled that North Battleford, Prince Albert, and Melfort would be able to re-open their river water intakes for water treatment. The river water intakes had been shut down earlier in the summer, after a Husky pipeline near Maidstone leaked oil into the river.

According to David Gillan, the director of finance for the city, this is being done according to a plan put in place by the municipality.

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“We set out a plan, and we’re implementing the plan, with the support of Husky,” said Gillan.

“Nothing has changed in the city here, we had a plan to recover our lost water right from the beginning, and nothing has changed since then.”

Gillan indicated that the continued reliance on alternate sources of water would continue throughout the winter. A “large-scale” filter is also currently in the process of being installed to help treat more river water throughout the winter.

“We always had this plan, because obviously we’re closer to the spill, and we felt it prudent to maintain, using alternative water until we feel more comfortable,” said Gillan.

“It’s really our decision, an abundance of caution, it’s got nothing to do with our engineering, their engineering, it’s just purely we’re closer to the site than other cities, and we want to be cautious.”

He also indicated that the city is hoping for the river to be cleaner in the spring and summer of 2017, when things could go back to the “old normal”.

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