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Water management

Water and energy are interrelated, and both are critical for society, economic development and the environment. We are committed to minimizing the impacts of our water withdrawals, consumption and discharges.

Water and energy are interrelated, and both are critical for society, economic development and the environment. We are committed to minimizing the impacts of our water withdrawals, consumption and discharges. 

We recognize some of our operations can use significant amounts of water and we engage with stakeholders regarding their concerns about the use and protection of local water resources. Local requirements and alternatives are considered when sourcing water for our activities, including identifying and managing risks to water availability and quality.

Currently, our major operating sites are located outside of water-short areas as identified in Alberta’s Water Conservation and Allocation Policy.

Our water management strategies include the use of freshwater alternatives such as recycled industrial wastewater and seasonal water management, and maximizing opportunities to reduce, reuse and recycle water.  

Reduced water requirements at Cold Lake

Our Cold Lake operation has a proven track record of reducing fresh water demand. Since commercial operations began in 1985, new technologies in water treatment and re-use have enabled our Cold Lake operations to reduce freshwater intensity by 90 percent and absolute freshwater use by 50 percent.

Limiting water use at Kearl

Kearl includes onsite water storage to help manage withdrawals during low-flow periods. Over the next five years, Kearl plans to use an average of just 0.1 percent of the annual Athabasca River flow. About 80 percent of water used at Kearl is recycled from within operations.

Reducing freshwater intensity for oil sands

Imperial is a founding member of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), an industry group focused on improvements in environmental performance in Canada’s oil sands through collaborative action and innovation. A focus area for COSIA is to reduce freshwater intensity for in situ oil sands operations and reduce the net water use intensity from the Athabasca River for mineable oil sands. This will require COSIA members to improve water use efficiency and recycle rates within their operations  

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