TITLE

Water Availability in the Oil Sands under Projections of Increasing Demands and a Changing Climate: An Assessment of the Lower Athabasca Water Management Framework (Phase 1)

AUTHOR(S)
Mannix, Amy E.; Dridi, Chokri; Adamowicz, Wiktor L.
PUB. DATE
March 2010
SOURCE
Canadian Water Resources Journal/Revue Canadienne des Ressources;Spring2010, Vol. 35 Issue 1, p28
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Water extraction from the Athabasca River for oil production has generated significant public concern due to its potential environmental impacts. Phase 1 of the Lower Athabasca Water Management Framework, introduced in February 2007, limits industrial water extractions in the Oil Sands based on available data on in-stream flow needs. The framework designates green, yellow, and red flow conditions on a weekly basis for the setting of progressive water restrictions. Using various streamflow and water demand scenarios, the frequency of each flow condition is investigated along with cases of when water-use restrictions may occur. Using a base case flow scenario (10% reduction in historic flows) and a high-growth forecast of demand of 14.0 m[sup 3]s by 2025 (equivalent to full utilisation of current approved licences) it is estimated that binding flow conditions of the Phase 1 framework would occur for an average of six weeks per year during winter, with significant variance across years. To avoid restrictions, demands would need to be limited to 7.5 m[sup 3]/s (i.e., average water use of 0.2 m[sup 3] per barrel of crude oil produced by 2020), or storage would be required of a capacity in the order of 15% of the annual supply to industry. An ecosystem base flow, if adopted for Phase 2 of the framework, may significantly increase the severity of restrictions (assuming an in-stream flow threshold of 100 m[sup 3]/s based on the minimum weekly Q95).The results highlight the need for a long-term, cost-effective strategy to manage the implementation of water restrictions in the Oil Sands, and the problematic nature of assigning fixed licensed volumes � rather than proportional shares � in a variable streamflow environment.
ACCESSION #
50739792

Tags: ENVIRONMENTAL impact analysis;  OIL sands -- Law & legislation;  WATER restrictions;  CLIMATIC changes

 

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