Water Monitoring

Oil sands projects are required to conduct extensive hydrological studies as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process and perform ongoing monitoring of both surface and groundwater that may be impacted by operations.

Industry and government have been closely monitoring the region’s water quality since the 1970s.

The Athabasca River has always had measurable levels of naturally occurring oil sands-derived hydrocarbon compounds, including Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. This is because bitumen from exposed oil sands along the riverbanks seeps naturally into the Athabasca River as it cuts its way through the landscape. The aquatic ecosystem in the Lower Athabasca River has adapted to this natural environment.

Groundwater in the region also contains hydrocarbon compounds and other components found in tailings water because groundwater is routinely found to be in contact with oil sands under normal geologic conditions in the region.

Protecting the Athabasca River

The Athabasca River has always had measurable levels of naturally occurring oil sands-derived hydrocarbon compounds, including Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. This is because bitumen from exposed oil sands along the riverbanks seeps naturally into the Athabasca River as it cuts its way through the landscape. The aquatic ecosystem in the Lower Athabasca River has adapted to this natural environment.

Groundwater in the region also contains hydrocarbon compounds and other components found in tailings water because groundwater is routinely found to be in contact with oil sands under normal geologic conditions in the region.

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