Prince Albert is taking a critical step to try and ensure residents have access to potable water, while the oil plume makes its way through the North Saskatchewan River.
The city decided Sunday, July 24 to build an above-ground pipeline from the South Saskatchewan River towards the city to avoid a water shortage.
In a news conference at city hall, city manager Jim Toye said the 30 km pipeline will run from Muskoday First Nation, along Highway 302 towards the city, continuing on River St. E and ending in the raw water intake reservoir at the city’s water treatment plant.
The decision use water from the south river was due to it being comparable to the north river. Toye explained that this makes it easy for the city’s water treatment plant to process.
The huge project started on Sunday and will be completd by early next week.
The city has put together this temporary two-month plan, hoping water will be safe to access by then. A consultant will regularly check the water to see if there are any contaminants.
“It’s going to be very, very expensive, and it’s a long process,” Toye said, adding there was no estimate as of Sunday, on how much it will cost the city.
Jeff Da Silva, public works manager of engineering services said the city is looking at others ways to prevent contamination of the water treatment plant.
“We have also installed protective measures around the intake structure in the river," he said, adding, "Including protective curtains, absorbent booms and deflecting curtains."
These measures would prevent contaminated water from entering the city’s water intake structure.
He said providing safe water is the city’s top priority.
“The city is working around the clock to ensure we have no interruptions to water service for the residents of the City of Prince Albert,” he said.
COMPENSATION FOR COSTLY SPILL
Toye confirmed the city will be looking to get compensation for the spill.
“The liability for this should be with polluter, not with the cities and municipalities that have been affected by the pollution,” he said.
He said city officials are hosting a conference call, Sunday, with the CEO of Husky Oil to discuss possible compensation, among other things.
When asked if the city is prepared to pursue legal action, if necessary, to be reimbursed for the costs of providing safe water, Toye said “yes.”
BYLAW ON WATER USAGE
Council will vote for a new bylaw Monday afternoon, to restrict the use of water by residents and businesses. Businesses such as laundromats and carwashes have been told to temporarily close operations until the city advises them to re-open. Fines will be implemented if the bylaw is broken.
Toye said he believed residents would abide by it, if it passes.
“The bylaw's there to protect everyone, and the last thing we need is to not have a source (of water)” he said.
Residents with questions can contact the city’s inquiry line at 306-953-4305.
The city will have daily press conferences with more information in the coming week.
paNOW will have more, as this story continues to develop.
-with files from Shane O’Neill
On Twitter: @julietkadzviti
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