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Funding flows for northern water projects
Winnipeg Free Press November 24, 2014
Ralls Island near The Pas will see more than 250 properties hooked up to the municipal water supply, Sherridon will triple its water treatment capacity and Wabowden will increase its waterwater lagoon.
City to study how pipeline could affect Shoal Lake and aqueduct
Aldo Santin, Winnipeg Free Press November 25, 2014
City hall needs help to determine how a new cross-country pipeline might impact Winnipeg’s water supply.
George Webster says P.E.I. should entertain deep-water wells
Steve Sharratt, The Guardian November 25, 2014
Agriculture minister calls for 'careful' expansion of irrigation levels during P.E.I. Potato Board meeting© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel P.E.I. Agriculture Minister George Webster
Agriculture Minister George Webster says he’s all for the “careful expansion” of irrigation needs for the province’s potato crop.
The admission came during Webster’s luncheon address to potato growers during the annual meeting of the P.E.I. Potato Board Friday.
Farmers have been requesting the current moratorium on deep-water wells be lifted to allow for greater irrigation opportunities. Last week, government announced it would not lift the deep-water well moratorium until a provincial water act is in place.
“I believe we can carefully expand the current level of irrigation and I will be promoting that position,” said Webster.
“It makes sense for our production to have irrigation available for a portion of crop . . . not all of the potato production needs irrigation, but the needs of our customers require that we supply the quality and quantity of potatoes they are accustomed to.”
The minister said the government will proceed with public discussions leading to the development of a water act with one goal being the opportunity for some farmers to access deep-water wells for irrigation purposes.
“Protecting the quality and quantity of water available is a priority and as farmers we know all too well the importance of adequate supplies of water for a quality crop.”
Potato Board chair Gary Linkletter said farmers wish the government had started work on a water act two years ago, but are pleased steps are now underway.
“We feel the moratorium is not necessary but we welcome a water act,’’ he said. “But in reality, a good subdivision will take more water than a potato field. Golf courses and potato fields use about the same amount and no one complains about golf courses and there’s no crisis over a water shortage.”
Linkletter also said water for potatoes is concentrated during July and August while a residential subdivision is accessing water on a year-round basis.
Webster said he will also promote efforts to review environmental regulations facing farmers and especially issues with the Crop Rotation Act since farm groups have sought changes. The minister said the billion-dollar potato industry faces an image problem and steps were taken in June to host a media tour to boost the profile to farming activities.
“We had a successful media tour resulting in positive news stories about P.E.I. agriculture and it showed that Islanders support farming. We’ve also had great collaboration with watershed groups to save such places as Barclay Brook.”
The government purchased the land around Barclay Brook in western P.E.I. this year to stop farming and the consequences of heavy erosion.
Ottawa Health lifts boil water advisory in Vars
Norman Provencher, Ottawa Citizen November 26, 2014
Several hundred users of the Vars communal well system have been advised they no longer have to boil their water before using.
Ottawa Public Health issued the precautionary advisory after the pipeline lost pressure and there were fears contaminants had seeped in.
Water sample reports indicate the water is safe, although residents are advised to run their cold water tap for a minute or more before using the water for the first time.
Oilsands alliance sets water use targets
The Canadian Press November 25, 2014
A group of oilsands companies has set its first environmental performance target by limiting the use of fresh water in oil production, but goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions have proven much more complicated.
Members of the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance — an organization through which 13 oilsands players aim to make the industry greener — said Tuesday they have agreed to halve the amount of fresh water used to produce a barrel of crude from steam-driven projects to 0.2 barrels by 2022. It’s COSIA’s first target involving specific numbers and deadlines since its inception in early 2012.
COSIA provides legal frameworks that enable oilsands companies to share their intellectual property for environmentally friendly technologies without stifling competition.
In addition to cutting water use, COSIA members are focusing on technologies that would reduce the industry’s impact on land, help manage tailings waste and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“It’s the kind of thing that you want to get right rather than do quickly,” said COSIA CEO Dan Wicklum.
COSIA is “probably a small number of weeks or months away” from announcing targets for reducing land disturbance and tailings ponds that hold huge volumes of oilsands waste, he said. And it’s still “working diligently” on the greenhouse gas element, though that’s taking longer than other areas.
“I think it is more difficult to put together,” Wicklum said.
“There’s a global debate around GHGs. There’s not a global debate around tailings. So I think it’s tied up with regulation and policy and a global debate, which adds an added degree of complexity for that file.”
Greenhouse gasses are emitted in various parts of the development process, so it’s tougher to separate environmental technologies that can be shared through COSIA from ones that would give companies an economically competitive edge, he added in an interview.
That’s not to say COSIA members haven’t been working on cutting carbon emissions while the legal framework is being hammered out, the bosses of two major oilsands operators said.
“It’s actually one of the top priorities,” said Shell Canada president Lorraine Mitchelmore.
For instance, Shell aims to start up its Quest carbon capture and sequestration project next year. That project, partly funded by the Alberta and federal governments, would prevent 1.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from Shell’s Scotford oilsands upgrader near Edmonton from escaping into the atmosphere by storing the gas underground.
Shell spent about $27 million on COSIA projects in 2014.
“When we look at our budget, that is sacred,” she said.
COSIA members have agreed their emissions performance should be better than producers of conventional oil, said Suncor CEO Steve Williams. Some of the newer oilsands projects are already achieving that goal.
Amin Asadollahi, oilsands program director at the Pembina Institute, an environmental think-tank, said he’s encouraged by COSIA’s work. “However, a lot more needs to be done,” he said.
Asadollahi describes COSIA as a “black box” that doesn’t publicize enough information for it to be held accountable. He also said members should also stop opposing tougher regulation if they want to make a difference on the environmental front.
Governments need to step up to the plate, too, Asadollahi said.
“COSIA in itself cannot do this,” he said. “We would like to see government sending the right signal and the right level of incentive required for industry to reduce its emission intensity.”
COSIA members are sharing 777 technologies costing more than $950 million. This year, 68 projects with a cost of more than $200 million were started.
“If there’s a difference from ’14 to ’13, I would say that real stuff is getting done now,” said Williams. “So we’ve moved from the tremendous challenges we’ve had from aligning fiercely competitive companies to actually getting stuff done.”
Suncor spent $18 million on COSIA technology in 2014 and that’s expected to rise next year.
Mitchelmore said there’s a perception COSIA is only making progress in “baby steps.”
“Well, I would say to put 13 companies together, it truly is an incredible feat and to do that in such a short time frame, I would say it’s giant steps.”
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