NAFTA compromises ability to cut water supply to the tar sands

A long-term study of the Athabasca River warns about the future availability of river water for the tar sands.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Based on a 900-year record obtained from tree rings, researchers found that the Athabasca watershed has historically been subjected to prolonged dry spells that are far more severe than anything the region has experienced since the oil industry arrived there in the 1960s. And with climate change threatening to increase the frequency and severity of droughts, they say, Alberta’s oil producers may be relying on an ‘untenable assumption’ that the river’s flow today is representative of what they can expect in years to come.”

The article highlights, “Currently, oil sands production consumes less than 5 per cent of the river’s annual flow, amounting to 187 million cubic metres in 2012. But water use has been projected to climb to 505 million cubic metres within the next decade.” Right now about 1.08 billion barrels a year (2.98 million bpd) are extracted from the tar sands and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers sees that increasing to 2.35 billion barrels a year (6.44 million bpd) by 2030.

Read the full story here: http://canadians.org/blog/nafta-compromises-ability-cut-water-supply-tar-sands

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