WHEREAS there is a concern about the enormous waste of fresh water (see Reference 1) by the oil and gas industry in the hydro-fracking and water injection processes (see Reference 7 and 8); and
WHEREAS injection of 32 million cubic meters of fresh water is permanently removed from the aquatic cycle (see Member Background); and
WHEREAS free and easy access to fresh water for enhanced oil recovery acts as a disincentive for oil and gas companies to pursue alternate methods such as CO2 injection, light oil hydro-fracking or to drill deeper to locate and pipe non-potable water (see Reference 3 and 7) for injection purposes;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC request the Government of Alberta implement an immediate reduction schedule leading to the cessation of the use of fresh water to the oil and gas industry for the hydro-fracking and water injection process in all areas of Alberta as fresh water is required for human consumption.
A reliable water supply for a sustainable economy is one of the key goals of Water for LIfe, Alberta’s Strategy for Sustainability. The Advisory Committee on Water Use Practices and Policy was formulated in 2003 to examine the use of fresh water for underground injection. The Government of Alberta working in partnership with industry, interest groups and non-government organizations developed the Water Conservation and Allocation Policy for oilfield injection, with a goal to reduce or eliminate the allocation of non-saline water for deep well injection. Applications for the use of fresh water for injection continue to be filed with the Energy Resources Conservation Board, and are approved on the basis that there is no economical alternative (saline water or carbon dioxide) that is available or because the diversion of ground water was previously approved through the licensing process. Currently the oil industry holds licenses for up to 32 million cubic meters of ground water diversion. The suggestion that use of non-saline ground water for enhancing oil field production is the most economical means is found on the premise that ground water has no dollar value. Such is not the case for those communities in Alberta that must pipe water to support the residents. With the ever-increasing drought conditions across the prairie provinces, ground water is becoming a scarce resource that must be conserved. Fresh water flooding of oil fields results in the water being lost to the eco-system forever. It is imperative that the Government of Alberta establish policies to regulate ground water usage for the protection and sustainability of this vital resource.
1. Potable Water – Drinkable – Fit to Drink
2. Fresh Water – Non-saline
3. Non-potable/Saline Water – Brackish – Unfit to Drink
4. Surface Water – Water collected on the ground or in a stream, river, lake, wetland, or ocean, it is related to water collecting as ground water or atmospheric water.
5. Ground Water – Water located beneath the ground surface is soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formation. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquiver when it can yield a usable quantity of water.
6. Water Table – Underground depth at which point the ground is totally saturated by water. The level of a water table can fluctuate considerably. When under ground water deposits are large enough to be considered sustainable for use, they are known as aquifers.
7. Fracking – Source Watch
8. Hydraulic Fracture – Formed by pumping the fracturing liquid into the wellbore at a rate sufficient to increase the pressure downhole to a value in excess of the fracture of the formation rock.
9. Water Cycle – AKA Hydrologic Cycle or H20 Cycle – Describes the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth.
10. ERCB – Energy Resources Conservation Board
11. EUB – Alberta Energy and Utilities Board
7-07F (expired): THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties requests that the Government of Alberta implement an immediate moratorium on new water licenses for deep well flooding with fresh groundwater, in all areas of the province where groundwater IS AND MAY BE required for human consumption; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to implement a one-year timetable for the cancellation of existing water licenses that allow deep well flooding with fresh groundwater, in all areas of the province where groundwater IS AND MAY BE required for human consumption; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties draft a petition based on these two clauses and send it out to municipalities who want to participate, so that the will of the people can be expressed on this vital issue.
Environment and Water:
To minimize the use of fresh water for oilfield injection, industry must adhere to the Water Conservation and Allocation Policy for Oilfield Injection. Since 2006, there has been a significant reduction in the use of fresh water for oilfield injection, particularly in areas with limited water sources. Alberta Environment and Water is always striving to improve our policies and practices in an effort to meet the unique needs and challenges we face here in Alberta.
Alberta Energy is committed to the safe and sustained development of Alberta’s energy resources. There have been significant reductions in the use of fresh water for oilfield injection since 2006, particularly in areas with limited water supplies. Oil and gas developers are strongly encouraged to use alternatives to fresh water in these areas and new oil development projects are required to demonstrate that all feasible options were evaluated and that only non-saline water resource use will prevent stranding oil resources. Policies on water use for oil and gas injection are being reviewed to ensure fresh water use is minimized by all upstream oil and gas activities including hydraulic fracturing.
While both the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development and the Ministry of Energy note policies are either in place or under review to encourage minimal use of fresh water for the extraction of oil and gas reserves, neither indicates that a total cessation is contemplated or feasible. As such, the AAMDC finds this response Unsatisfactory and will continue to advocate on this issue through ministerial meetings.