Water Under Pressure ~ Navigating competing demands between agriculture and natural resource development, by Chad Eggerman appeared in watercanada’s July/Aug, 2014 issue.
Saskatchewan’s economy has been growing at a feverish pace the past few years on the pillars of agriculture, mining, and oil-and-gas development. Although growth has recently settled at more
sustainable levels, recent discussion in the province has centered around how to best use water resources in future development. This is an ongoing discussion in jurisdictions in Canada where both agriculture and natural resource development coexist, most prominently British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. The agriculture sector is traditionally the largest user of water in Saskatchewan, particularly for irrigation in the West Central region of the province around Lake Diefenbaker. By some estimates, there is the potential to expand as much as 500,000 additional acres of land to irrigation around the lake. The Government of Saskatchewan views this expansion as a major opportunity for economic growth and to attract investment. There are a number of irrigation districts in Saskatchewan that are administered by the Ministry of Agriculture under The Irrigation Act, 1996. Saskatchewan has been mining natural resources for many years but recent multibillion-dollar expansions and greenfield projects have raised the profile of mining in the province. The most established resources are uranium in the north and potash in the south. The potash-producing region in Saskatchewan directly overlaps prime agricultural land as well as considerable oil-and-gas reserves. There are two methods to mine potash: solution mining and conventional shaft mining.
The solution-mining process involves the construction of a well field composed of at least two drill holes—one to send hot water down to the potash-bearing zones of rock, and another to bring the potash-laden brine up to the surface after percolating in an underground cavern. Solution mining uses vast quantities of water. Currently, Vale proposes to build a 70-kilometre water pipeline to Katepwa Lake in the Qu’Appelle Valley to pump more than 40 million litres per day for their Kronau project (the equivalent of 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools). K+S Potash Canada is currently building a new solution potash mine and is planning on using up to 60 million litres of water per day. Different regulations in Saskatchewan apply depending on whether the water comes from the surface or the ground, the type of mining (for potash, solution or conventional), and the location (uranium in the north is regulated differently than potash in the south). The oil-and-gas industry in Saskatchewan has experienced rapid growth recently due largely to continued expansion of the use of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking), which involves pumping pressurized
water underground to fracture rock to extract oil or gas. There were 3,200 horizontally fracked wells sunk in Saskatchewan from 1990 to 2013. On average, there are about 3,000 new oil wells (both vertical and horizontal) drilled in Saskatchewan each year. Any fresh water to be used in Saskatchewan for fracking is subject to appropriate approvals from various provincial water agencies. Residual fracking fluids are recycled and disposed of at provincially approved waste processing facilities or stored. The discharge or storage of used fluids into the surface environment is prohibited in Saskatchewan. The risk of water availability for farmers, miners, and oil-and-gas companies is becoming evident. Water supply agreements between miners and water suppliers, like SaskWater or a municipality, are becoming increasingly difficult to negotiate. The water supply agreement is a critical agreement to provide a certain amount of water at a set price. There are very significant risks for potash solution mines, which use water to operate if water supply is curtailed or discontinued. Oil companies are having to travel further and pay more for water for fracking. Intensive livestock and increased spraying (which uses fresh water) in Saskatchewan are also putting pressure on water supplies. There are a number of innovative projects in the province to mitigate these risks. Oil-and-gas companies are starting to use treated wastewater for their fracking operations. Municipalities in Alberta and Saskatchewan are now selling treated wastewater to oil companies. The treated wastewater can come from lagoons or from grey water discharge. This is a new revenue stream for municipalities and increases the certainty of water supply for oil-and-gas companies. Western Potash Corp.’s new potash mine in Milestone, Saskatchewan recently received environmental assessment approval for the facility, including the use of City of Regina treated effluent as the industrial water source for its solution mining process. The water is purified to prevent foaming or scaling. This is the first potash mine in the world to use treated water. It is expected the discussion between farmers and extractors of natural resources will continue in Saskatchewan and across Canada, with innovative technologies and agreements providing a way forward.
Chad Eggerman is a partner in the Saskatoon office of Miller Thomson LLP and assists owners and contractors to develop projects in the natural resource industry
Posted in Agriculture, Art, Conservation, Educational, Energy Conservation, Environment, Geology, Photography
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The following article is taken from WaterCanada’s Mar/Apr issue; “A Legal Hotbed – Environmental groups in British Columbia are fighting to force the government into using legislation to protect its waterways” by Siobhan McClelland.
Environmental groups are testing the litigation waters in British Columbia to challenge government actions that put the marine environment at risk.
Right now, British Columbia is a hotbed for environmental issues, with private companies interested in using the province’s waterways as part of their operations, including fracking and natural gas businesses.
But Ecojustice, a Vancouver-based organization that represents several environmental groups, is pursuing many legal cases against the government. The organization claims the government hasn’t used its legislation or has violated its legislation, resulting in too much power being handed over to private companies that are making decisions that affect the environment.
While there are environmental laws that provide protection for Canada’s waterways and marine life, some question how effective the legislation is.
“It’s frustrating to have legislation on the books, which the various levels of government ignore or interpret in a manner different than what was represented to the populace when proclaimed,” Maureen Bell, (see link at end for one of Maureen’s articles on water rights) a Calgary environmental lawyer, said. “In such cases, the politicians get full points for creating the legislation, but if it languishes on the shelf or is perverted in its application, it isn’t much good.”
Margot Venton, a staff lawyer at Ecojustice, said that people have been using the courts to try to protect the marine environment since the 1980s, when the rules changed to allow public interest parties standing, or the ability to become involved in environmental cases and bring lawsuits.
“I think right now, in the British Columbia coast, there’s a lot of tension over how we will develop resources and what we are willing to risk in the development of these resources,” Venton said. “Some of the potential resource uses, like pipelines or fish farms or whatever it is, are really placing these issues front and center in people’s minds, and we’re realizing that the threat is becoming really obvious.”
Ecojustice is currently challenging the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission’s decision to issue short-term water approvals to fracking companies, arguing that the companies should have to go through the more stringent process of bringing water-license applications.
Ecojustice staff lawyer Randy Christensen said short-term water approvals, which are usually good for two years, are being renewed by the same company five or six times. He said Ecojustice wants the companies that use water for fracking purposes to go into the water-licensing process, where the government would then assess the impact of the water withdrawals more carefully and look at the cumulative impacts of many water withdrawals in one area.
“Our concern right now is that there are really two different routes of getting the water. One has minimal oversight and one has more robust oversight,” Christensen said.
He added that the cumulative impact of the fracking operations could affect water flow conditions in certain areas and fluctuations in water flow could affect the life cycles of fish in rivers and streams. This could possibly result in shortages at certain times of the year that would affect other people’s water use.
“These are all the kinds of things that need to go through the licensing process so that you have studies and assessments, and you know the impact of what those uses could be,”
Fracking operations aren’t the only concern for Ecojustice. In another case, Ecojustice alleges diseased farmed Atlantic salmon have been unlawfully transferred into an open-pen fish farm, where the diseased fish would share water with wild fish. The claim is that Fisheries and Oceans Canada has unlawfully given a private company the power to decide whether to transfer the diseased salmon.
Venton said decisions about the risks associated with the transfer of diseased fish should be made by the government, not private companies.
“It’s more appropriate for the government to make the call about that risk than it is for a private individual or private company running a farm to make that call,” she said, arguing that the law doesn’t allow anyone to put fish that may carry a diseased agent into the ocean because this could potentially harm the conservation and protection of fish in the ocean.
“I think there is a general trend, in particular in the federal government, to get out of the business of governing,” she said, adding that this is her personal opinion. “There’s also a trend
in Canada toward deregulation and toward handing more and more power and decision making to the companies, with less and less oversight. You see that in British Columbia.”
Kirsten Ruecker, a communications advisor at Fisheries and Oceans’ office in the Pacific Region, wrote in an email that the government was unable to comment on the fracking and salmon cases as these matters are currently before the courts.
The fracking case does not have a hearing date yet. The salmon-farming case is scheduled for a hearing on June 9.
Siobhan McClelland is a former lawyer now working as a freelance journalist and the new media editor at Canadian Geographic. She has written for several law publications on a variety of topics.
Maureen Bell – “Water Rights Set To Make Waves” ~
Posted in Art, Conservation, Educational, Ethnic Art and Dance, Marine Biology, Nature, Nature, Photography, Uncategorized
Tagged Almonte, Aylmer, Barrhaven, Bearbrook, bing, Blackburn Hamlet, Buckingham, Carleton Place, Carp, casselman, Chelsea, Chrysler, Clarence Creek, Cumberland, diseased salmon, Ecojustice, environment, Eternally Pure Water Systems Inc, Fitzroy Harbour, force B.C. legislation to protect Canadian waterways, fracking, Gatineau, Google, Greely, Hammond, Hawkesbury, Kanata, Kemptville, life cycle of salmon, Limoges, Luskville, Manotick, Marathon, marine life, Metcalfe, Munster, Navan, North Gower, Orleans, Osgoode, Ottawa, Ottawa East, Ottawa South, Ottawa West, Quyon, Rainsoft Ottawa water treatment products sales and service in Ottawa and all surrounding areas, Richmond, Russell, Sarsfield, South Mountain, St. Albert, Vancouver, Vanier, Vars, Vernon, water treatment Rainsoft products in Ottawa and all surrounding areas, Yahoo, Yelp
WHAT IS FRACKING?
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a method of forcing natural gas or oil from rock layer deep below the earth’s surface.
HOW FRACKING WORKS:
1) A pressurized mixture of sand, water and chemicals is injected into a horizontally drilled well.
2) The mix cracks the shale and fills the cracks with sandy grit allowing natural gas to flow up the well.
3) The recovered water is stored in lined pits or taken to a treatment plant.
“Hydraulic Fracturing: How it works”, YouTube video uploaded by Imperial Oil , Sept. 19, 2012 ~
“Animation of Hydraulic Fracturing (fracking)”, a YouTube video was published on Apr 26, 2012 ~
ALASKA FRACKING:… Alaska is a major component in fracking and it is big in the future. Alaska has around 2 billion barrels of oil and 80 trillion cubic feet of gas. This is enough to fill the Alaska pipeline for 12 decades. The wells of Alaska are located in two areas. The biggest spot for the fracking to occur is the North Slope, where most of the wells are… The other area of fracking takes place in the Kenai Peninsula on the South coast of Alaska… Not only can gas and oil be extracted from fracking, but so can 500 million barrels of recoverable natural gas. This recoverable natural gas comes from the North area. Alaska fracking is a good way to extract oil because it can cover many wells at one time, making the process less expensive… because the fracking takes place in the north part of Alaska, there is no human harm done because it does not take place in developed areas, where many people normally live. Fracking in Alaska takes place in the undeveloped areas.
FRACKING IS CONTROVERSIAL AND HARMFUL:
Around 25% of the oil extraction in Alaska uses fracking… Alaska fracking can be harmful to the environment as well as the animals because it puts chemicals in water that harms these two. This is why Alaska fracking has been a controversial topic for many years. Because of this, there have been hearings for new laws and regulations for this type of oil extraction in Alaska. These types of laws and regulations, if passed, would be very strict. Some of the regulations could involve oil extraction companies giving more information about the chemicals used that could potentially harm any areas containing water. The contamination of water can cause a lot of problems in the future for Alaska.
EARTHQUAKES, CHEMICAL SPILLS,
TOXIC DRINKING WATER
AND RADIOACTIVE WASTE
AND THE LIST GOES ON……!!!
A MUST SEE ~ The following YouTube video, “Fracking Hell: The Untold Story”, uploaded on Jan 11, 2011 by LinkTV.
Posted in Art, Collage, Educational, Environment, Environmental concerns, Geography, Health Concerns, Nature, Science and Technology, Water conservation
Tagged Alaska, alaska pipeline, Aylmer, barrels of oil, Barrhaven, Bearbrook, Blackburn Hamlet, Buckingham, Carleton Place, Carp, casselman, Chelsea, Chrysler, clean water, climate, Cumberland, drinking water, earthquake, environment, environmental concerns from fracking, Eternally Pure Water Systems Inc. water treatment Rainsoft products in Ottawa and all surrounding areas, fracking, fracking causes earthquakes, Gatineau, Greely, Hammond, Hawkesbury, human harm, Hydraulic fracturing, Imperial Oil, Kanata, Kenai Peninsula, Limoges, LinkTV, Luskville, Manotick, Metcalfe, natural gas, Navan, North Gower, oil extraction, Orleans, Osgoode, Ottawa East, Ottawa South, Ottawa West, Rainsoft Ottawa, Richmond, Russell, Sarsfield, science, shale, South Mountain, St. Albert, Vars, Vernon, water, water rock layer, water treatment, YouTube, YouTube video