The city of North Battleford has imposed a mandatory ban on outdoor water use. The move comes as workers continue to try and clean up oil that leaked into the North Saskatchewan River on Thursday.
The ban covers all watering of lawns and gardens, as well as washing vehicles, buildings, and driveways.
In a news release issued Sunday, July 24, the city said people who disregard the ban will be fined.
North Battleford is relying entirely on water stored in reservoirs, and on its groundwater treatment plant after the river water intake for their other plant was shut off early Saturday.
In a briefing Sunday afternoon, Sam Ferris, an official with the Water Security Agency, said North Battleford’s supply was holding up well, but added the city is working on alternative sources.
Downstream in Prince Albert, which normally relies entirely on the North Saskatchewan River as its water source, the intake was still operating Sunday afternoon. Plans were being made to connect the city with the South Saskatchewan River using an above-ground pipeline, which would run approximately 27 km along Highway 3 to the Muskoday First Nation.
Ferris also said hospitals in both cities were planning to truck in water to fill up their emergency reservoirs.
Wes Kotyk, executive director of the environmental protection branch with the Ministry of Environment, said roughly 100,000 litres, or nearly half of the blended crude that spilled into the river had been skimmed from the water or recovered on land at the point of the pipeline leak north of Maidstone. A total of five booms were being used near Maidstone, Paynton, the Battlefords, and Maymont.
Kotyk said the front edge of the sheen was approximately 15 km downstream from Maymont as of 7:30 a.m. Sunday, but he explained it is not a continuous plume of oil.
“There are a number of factors: the plume does break up into different areas. Sometimes it’ll get slowed down in certain bends or pockets along the river, and as well the booms themselves are holding back some of the oil from going further. And that’s being skimmed as it goes,” Kotyk said.
He added there was little evidence of oil on the surface at the Paynton ferry.
Kotyk said Environment Canada continued to work on creating a model to determine the location and flow of the oil. He said it’s difficult to determine accurately due to factors like the high river flow and sediment. He said the federal department was using aerial monitoring.
Kotyk said three birds had been impacted by the oil spill.
“Husky has established a program for recovery with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan, and any impacted wildlife will be handled through that,” he said.
Ferris asked members of the public not to swim or boat in the affected areas of the river. The city of North Battleford said with the high level and strong current, people should stay away from the banks.