Last month the Pembina Institute released a report revealing the true impact of tar sands developments on Alberta's water resources.
A staggering degree of water rights has been granted to the largely American owned oil industry, with 359 million litres of diversions from the Athabasca River already authorized - twice the volume used by the city of Calgary in an single year. Further, less than 10% of that volume is returned to the river. The rest remains contaminated and is stored in vast tailing ponds which already total 50 square kilometers in area.
With no end in site for tar sands development Alberta is rapidly facing what amounts to an all or nothing decision - preserve the water system, or preserve the oil industry. We will need the our pristine water resources for infinite generations. How long will the oil last? And what will we be left with when it has run out?