The plant treats effluent water from sewage lagoons to a high enough standard to be used in the oil and gas industry, taking away some of the need for oil and gas companies to draw from local fresh water sources
“It’s really unique as far as what we can tell in North America,” Polak maintains. “Beyond the fact that you’re then reducing, and in some cases eliminating, the need for the use of fresh water in fracking, you also can potentially see a benefit to Dawson in that some time down the road, they could be able to use that reclaimed water in aspects of City use that don’t require potable water.”
The City of Dawson Creek has previously indicated that it would like to use some of its reclaimed water for others uses like dust control. The project was built in partnership with Shell, and in exchange for funding the majority of it, the company can take up to 3,400 cubic metres per day to pump to its Groundbirch gas field for use in fracking.
It plays into the Water Sustainability Act that will be introduced into legislation in spring 2014, replacing the current Water Act.
“Now that we will have regulation in place that deals with the use of fresh ground water, that will create incentives for industry and other users to be more careful with the water they use,” Polak argues.
Another piece of the legislation is intended to give local governments more influence through Water Sustainability Plans unique to each region. With the support of the legislation and the expertise of the province, communities can make plans for fresh water use in their area that goes beyond what’s in the Act.
“That would be especially helpful in areas where they deal with specific problems around scarcity,” Polak says. “In your community, if you were to enter another time of drought as you’ve experienced before, you’d have community groups together who could make recommendations to the Ministry about which water uses should form the highest priority.”
The forthcoming changes will not affect residential water users, only commercial and industrial.
The public can provide feedback that will be integrated into the final legislation online.