Summary of the Oil Sands Groundwater – Surface Water Interactions Workshop

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  • A number of factors led to the need for a workshop to discuss surface water – groundwater interactions in the oil sands. These included: • Current government policies and the development of new policies and frameworks • Continued uncertainty regarding the potential for interactions and the resulting impacts, particularly for fisheries habitat and resources • Initiation of the Cumulative Environmental Management Association’s Groundwater Working Group and their initial research results • Work being undertaken by industry, particularly in the Southern Athabasca Oil Sands The Workshop: • Considered mineable and in-situ oil sands operations in general (i.e., did not focus on specific geographic regions, except when discussing specific examples) • Focused mainly on groundwater (quality and quantity) – with discussion of surface water being limited to “groundwater – surface water interaction” • Acknowledged, but did not address, that the different regulators have different responsibilities and authorities regarding groundwater, surface water and fisheries impacts related to interactions The objectives of the Workshop were to: • Develop a common understanding of the current knowledge regarding groundwater resources, groundwater-surface water interactions in the oil sands area, ongoing applied research, monitoring and potential impacts • Develop recommendations regarding research, monitoring, modelling, etc. to address knowledge gaps and/or regulatory and environmental protection issues The Workshop was structured with initial presentations by several speakers to set the context, and summarize current policy and recent research. The participants were then asked to respond to a series of general and topic-specific questions. The report recommendations have not been directed to any specific individual or organization. Rather, the Steering Committee members will bring the recommendations back to their respective management teams for further consideration.

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    Attribution 3.0 International