The sighting of an oily sheen on the North Saskatchewan River from last week's Husky Energy pipeline leak has prompted the City of Prince Albert to shut down the intake at its water treatment plant.
City manager Jim Toye said the slick was spotted near the Saskatchewan community of more than 35,000 shortly after 6:00 a.m. Monday.
"Right now, we are not receiving any water into our plant from the North Saskatchewan River."
Toye said the city's reservoirs had a two-day supply of water and the city could get permission from Saskatchewan's Water Security Agency to tap its storm retention pond for treatment and distribution.
That would add another four to five days worth of water.
Work was already underway to lay out a temporary pipeline stretching upwards of 30 kilometres to draw water from the South Saskatchewan River, should the water emergency continue for a much longer period. It was hoped work on the line could be completed within the next two days.
Prince Albert city council was also holding a special meeting Monday to discuss what Toye called "drastic" water conservation measures that would include no watering of private lawns, golf courses, city parks and water fun parks.
Car washes, laundromats and any other businesses that consume high volumes of water would also be closed. Toye pointed out that anyone caught breaking the rules would face a $1,000 fine.
"We need a deterrent. This is a very serious situation," said Toye. "We don't want anyone thinking this doesn't apply to them."
North Battleford, which is further upstream on the river, shut off its water supply intakes on Friday and is relying on a limited supply from wells.
The oil pipeline that leaked near Maidstone, Sask., last Thursday runs from Husky's heavy oil operations to its facilities in Lloydminster and carries oil mixed with a lighter hydrocarbon, called a diluent, that's added to ease the flow. Between 200,000 and 250,000 litres escaped.
Husky has been working since last week to clean up the spill. But Wes Kotyk with the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment said Sunday that about 100,000 litres had been collected so far.
Kotyk also said officials don't know how long the cleanup could take, since the plume of the spill has broken up and slicks can get hung up on bends and take time to move along the river. Environment and Climate Change Canada was to use aerial surveillance to help build a model to determine the spill's impact.
Kotyk also said Sunday that three birds are confirmed to have been affected. He said Husky has established a program for recovery with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan.
Jan Shadick of Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation said three birds were brought to them on Saturday coated in oil. She said one died and the other two are recovering.
— With files from CKRM