Mythbusting: Water Environmental Priority Area

Water technology oil sands

The Water Environmental Priority Area is focused on innovative and sustainable solutions to improve how water is managed at oil sands mining and in situ (below ground) operations. Thanks to technological advances, most water used in oil sands development today is recycled (83 per cent for mining operations and 85 per cent for in situ operations). Of the remainder, an increasing amount comes from non-potable sources.

In 2020, 86 active Water projects were underway through COSIA at a cost of $319 million. Since 2012, COSIA members have invested $592 million in 273 contributed water technologies

As a result of this work, oil sands operators have reduced freshwater use intensity at in situ operations by 47 per cent and reduced net water use intensity from the Athabasca River at mining operations by 36 per cent – all since 2012.

These efforts include innovation to:
•    Improve the use and management of all water resources.
•    Accelerate the development and commercialization of water treatment technologies for oil sands operations.
•    Improve steam generation technology and develop new innovations that reduce greenhouse gas intensity, water use, wastewater production and costs for in situ oil sands development.
•    Close knowledge gaps related to the safe release of treated mine water to the Athabasca River in the future.

It's all about improving environmental performance in the oil sands to support sustainable development of Canada’s oil sands and economic growth. Find out more in our 2020 Annual Report.

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