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Saskatchewan city 2nd in water taste test after oil spill shut water intakes

PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. – A Saskatchewan city that had to shut down its water supply intakes for almost two months after crude oil leaked into a river was awarded second place in a water taste test.

Prince Albert got the ranking in the American Water Works Association “Best of the Best” competition held in Calgary in October.

Municipalities in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta took part in the annual competition.

Andy Busse, manager of Prince Albert’s water treatment plant, says it’s especially significant given the challenges the city faced this summer due to the oil spill.

In July, a Husky Energy (TSX:HSE) pipeline leaked 225,000 litres of blended crude oil into the North Saskatchewan River, forcing Prince Albert and North Battleford, Sask., to find other sources of water.

Husky said about 210,000 litres have been recovered.

The company asked in October for more time to submit technical reports on the spill. Husky was expected to submit a full report within 90 days of the pipeline breach. The government now expects a full assessment of the cause of the spill by Monday.

Busse said the city had to scramble to secure alternative water sources through the construction of new temporary water lines and use innovative treatment methods to treat the water sources for safe public consumption.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the work that we are doing at the water treatment plant and the high degree of professionalism of all the staff … To be recognized as having some of the best drinking water in Western Canada is something very special that we are very proud of,” Busse said Wednesday in a news release.

Residents were banned from watering lawns, washing vehicles and filling pools and businesses such as laundromats and car washes weren’t allowed to use any water for weeks after the spill.

The province has said it will be inspecting all oil pipelines that cross rivers or lakes where a potential failure could threaten municipal water supplies.