Skip to content

NEWS: Alberta town could sell 100 million litres of wastewater for fracking operations

The Mountain View Gazette reports, “Sundre town council has instructed its administration to look into the possibility of the municipality selling the town’s wastewater to oil and gas companies for use in fracturing operations in the region.”

Sundre is a community of 2,500 people located about 130 kilometres northwest of Calgary.

It is reported that Alberta Environment may allow the town to sell 112,503 cubic metres of wastewater per year. In that one cubic metre of water equals 1,000 litres, that’s more than 100 million litres of water that could be sold for fracking by this town. (For additional reference, a standard oil barrel holds about 160 litres). “Sundre currently sells treated water to anyone, including oil and gas companies, at $5.50 per cubic metre. …Sundre Mayor Annette Clews said selling the town’s wastewater for use in fracking operations around the Sundre area would make sense on several levels.”

The mayor says, “I’ve been encouraging and asking administration and council to look at this for more than a year. It will be all-around beneficial. For one we won’t be selling expensively treated potable water to the companies. And by using the wastewater we won’t be putting contaminants such as hormones and chemicals back into the water system. That wastewater will be used for fracking instead of coming back into the drinking water.”

The news report adds, “The town will also be investigating the possibility of forming partnerships on the venture, she said, noting that partnerships could conceivably include Mountain View County. Clews said she hopes administration will be able to come back with more information on the proposal early in the new year. …The possibility of Sundre selling wastewater for fracking will including discussions with area oil and gas companies, trucking companies, and Alberta Environment.”

The use of wastewater does not make fracking water-friendly – fracking still requires large volumes of water (whether potable or wastewater, the water is removed from the hydrologic cycle), the drilling still threatens groundwater (both with the chemicals used and possibly the pathogens that can be found in the wastewater), and the fracking-waste fluids still need to be dealt with somehow.

The Council of Canadians opposes fracking because of its high water use, its high carbon emissions, its impacts on human health, the disruption it causes to wildlife, and the danger it poses to groundwater and local drinking water. We are calling for a country-wide stop to fracking operations. We have just launched a petition campaign – at http://canadians.org/action/2011/fracking.html – to put pressure on the federal government to step into a leadership role and ensure that our water sources, people’s health and the environment are protected from unnecessary and dangerous pollution.