New water reservoir to double capacity in Prince Albert, Sask.

A new reservoir is being constructed in Prince Albert, Sask., as a result of the Husky oil spill in 2016. City of Prince Albert / Supplied

A sod turning was held Tuesday in Prince Albert to kick off construction of a water reservoir to help mitigate potential supply disruptions such as what happened during the Husky oil spill.

In July 2016, a Husky Energy pipeline break near Maidstone, Sask., resulted in an estimated 225,000 litres of oil leaking. About 40 per cent of the oil entered the North Saskatchewan River.

READ MORE: Husky Energy facing up to $1M fine for 2016 oil spill from Sask., plus nine federal charges

The spill caused communities downstream from the spill to close their main water intake from the river. Prince Albert secured alternative sources through temporary water lines and used innovative treatment methods to ensure safe consumption.

Two months later, the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency gave approval for Prince Albert to once again divert and treat water from the river.

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“The construction of this new reservoir was a result of our 2016 water crisis. At that time, water supply was identified as a risk – one that we are now correcting through this project,” Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said in a press release.

“The additional water capacity will serve residents in the event of potential emergency situations and also for future growth as demand for water increases.”

READ MORE: Husky report finds ground movement caused spill in North Saskatchewan

The Prince Albert water treatment plant currently services around 40,000 consumers in the city, along with 1,500 people in rural areas and 600 farms. On average, potable water production is 15,000 cubic meters per day.

Once the new River Street reservoir is fully operational, it’s estimated that Prince Albert’s water storage capacity will double, based on current average consumption.

The project is receiving funding under the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund with the federal government contributing $6 million. An additional $3 million in funding is coming from the provincial government.

The City of Prince Albert will provide the remaining funds for the $12-million project.

“I am very pleased we’re starting construction on this essential water reservoir project for Prince Albert,” Ralph Goodale, the federal minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, said in a press release.

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“These important upgrades that will ensure a reliable water supply for this growing community and protect against future shortages, bolstering employment and economic growth in the region.”

READ MORE: Prince Albert, Sask. 2nd in water taste test following challenges from Husky oil spill

Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

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