Water is fundamental to human life and the ecosystems that support that life. The importance and value of water becomes especially significant in semi-arid southern Saskatchewan. As Saskatchewan grows and the climate changes, water availability will be a limitation for meeting social and environmental needs. Reliable access to safe freshwater will be one of the biggest challenges we will face in the prairies in the 21st century.
In the summer of 2016, a rupture in a Husky Energy oil pipeline spilled as much as 250,000 litres of crude oil and diluent into the North Saskatchewan River. The contamination spanned 500 kilometres of the river, putting the drinking water of nearly 70,000 Saskatchewan residents at risk, and resulted in at least 150 reported wildlife deaths. The spill exposed a lax regulatory system governing oil pipelines in Saskatchewan. In an inclusive set of recommendations, SES called for 13 new oil pipeline safety measures for the Saskatchewan government to implement, to ensure better safeguards for our water.
SES carried out a northern water monitoring program, the Boreal Watershed Monitoring Program, in which work was done with students and teachers in many northern Saskatchewan schools to sample and monitor water quality in their region.
SES is pressing for cleanup of northern Saskatchewan watersheds contaminated by the operation of uranium mines. Even though some closed over 30 years ago, their legacy of contamination continues to this day.
The Saskatchewan Environmental Society continues to play an important role in planning and education around water issues.