Canada's oil sands industry works to use water responsibly, placing high value on Alberta's fresh water resources.

Industrial use of fresh water is strictly regulated in Canada - the provincial government closely regulates the amount of water that is licensed for use, and must be satisfied that the amount being withdrawn each year is sustainable.

Oil sands mines and in situ operations reuse a large proportion of the water needed in their processes, thus reducing the annual demand for fresh water from natural resources. In 2014, the oil sands industry represented about eight per cent of total provincial water allocations. But not all of that water was actually used, the oil sands industry uses less than one third of its total water allocations per year.

Learn more about water monitoring, water quality and water use in Canada's oil sands.

Body Environmental Innovation Water Alberta Water Allocations

Source: Alberta Environment & Parks

Areas of Focus

Water use is an important part of oil sands production. Industry is working to reduce water use and increase water recycling rates at oil sands mining and in situ operations. Water quality can be impacted by industrial activity that occurs on land. Oil sands operations must be carefully managed to avoid affecting the quality of surface water (rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and other fresh water sources) and groundwater.


Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) is an alliance of oil sands producers focused on accelerating the pace of improvement in environmental performance in Canada's oil sands through collaborative action and innovation.

Learn more about some of the technologies being developed by the members of the COSIA Water Environment Priority Area: