REGINA – Communities affected by an oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River are being told it’s OK to start using the water again.
Saskatchewan’s Water Security Agency says the cities of North Battleford, Prince Albert and Melfort can resume taking water from the river.
The cities had to shut off their intakes and find alternate water sources after the oil plume from a Husky Energy (TSE:HSE) pipeline spill moved downstream.
Up to 250,000 litres of oil mixed with a lighter hydrocarbon leaked into the river near Maidstone, Sask., in July.
The water agency says about 88 per cent of the oil has been recovered and there is no significant health risk once the water is treated.
The City of Prince Albert, which had built a pipe to pump water from another source, said Friday that it will spend the next several days preparing its water treatment plant to return to full operations from the North Saskatchewan on Monday.
The city said the removal of the temporary pipe is expected to take several weeks.
The agency recommends municipalities collect samples of treated water to test for petroleum components before the water is distributed to users.
It also says they should adjust their water treatment to address current river conditions and advise users of a potential change in water quality.
Restrictions on livestock watering and recreational activities on the river have also been removed. The cities had already lifted municipal restrictions that were in place for several weeks after the spill to conserve water.
The agency says the oil spill’s effects on aquatic life and wildlife is still being reviewed. Almost 150 animals were found dead, mostly fish and small mammals.
It’s still not clear what caused the spill. The government has said a full investigation is expected to conclude next month.