The situation is being described as steady when it comes to the oil spill on the North Saskatchewan River, though there were a few bumps to contend with this weekend.
On Saturday, there was a slow down with the cleanup efforts. The water in the North Saskatchewan River receded a bit after a rain event from Alberta came through.
“(It’s) creating some new water hazards and water access issues, so we’ve had to adjust our operational activities a little bit to accommodate for that,” said Wes Kotyk, with the Ministry of the Environment.
The progress of two kilometres each day the crews were making was halved. As of Sunday morning about seven kilometres had been cleaned, with another 31 to go. However they’re about halfway there, as Kotyk said they’ve cleaned up about 126 cubic metres of the 250 which spilled.
Kotyk expected the progress to be back to normal on Sunday.
Prince Albert is one of the communities struggling with water access, and ‘Plan A’ right now is to get water from the South Saskatchewan River. On Saturday night part of that 30 kilometre line was being pressurized, and the Water Security Agency said it went well – save one hiccup.
Part of the line had to be repaired in an area when it crossed a highway. It’s believed someone drove too fast over a crossing device on the line, causing damage – it’s expected to be fixed on Sunday.
The government is taking the opportunity to remind people to obey the posted speed limits around the lines from the South Saskatchewan River, and the Little Red River.
Until the South Sask. water line is up and running, Prince Albert is still relying on water from storm retention ponds. If the longer water line isn’t finished in time, they’ll try to get water from the Little Red River, about five kilometres north. Water is now flowing through that line, however on Sunday it was still undergoing testing and wasn’t connected to the city distribution yet.
Prince Albert, the rural municipalities of Prince Albert and Buckland, and the Muskoday First Nation are all still under emergency declarations.
The Water Security Agency said the Melfort water plant is performing well in treating the water from Codette Lake, so people in that area are alright. The groundwater plant in North Battleford is still going, though they’re working to get water from Battleford, across the river. The province also says the Muskoday First Nation is doing well, with water being hauled in every couple of days.
Despite the hiccups, the government seems to see the situation around the oil spill as steady.
“The level of cooperation that we’ve seen here, and the level of sophistication in terms of deploying some of these alternative water supplies is really impressive,” said Duane McKay, director of emergency management with the province. “And I think overall, things are going very well.”