Oilsands water restrictions a climate change ‘preview:’ study
CTV News/The Canadian Press, August 18, 2015
EDMONTON — New research suggests that this week’s restrictions on withdrawing water from the Athabasca River for oilsands use are a preview of what the industry will face under climate change.
Alberta’s energy regulator has suspended a total of 73 temporary industry licences to take water from the Athabasca because of low flows.
A recent paper published in the journal Climate Change suggests such disruptions will become more common and increase by up to 40 per cent by mid-century.
Paper co-author Simon Donner of the University of British Columbia says unless solutions are found, water shortages will result in billions of dollars in lost production.
Oilsands mines can protect themselves by storing water on site during high flow periods, but Donner says those solutions are expensive.