Reduce, reuse, return: Keys to water management

Suncor employee Doug Adamson conducts quality tests on water in the Suncor Refinery laboratory to ensure it meets license parametres required for return to the North Saskatchewan River.

Suncor uses a balanced and sustainable approach to integrated water management

  1. optimizing water withdrawal practices
  2. reuse of water already in our system 
  3. return of water to the watershed 

The Suncor Edmonton Refinery has taken the initiative to reduce the amount of water drawn from the North Saskatchewan River by recovering collected rainwater and snow melt at the refinery for re-use in the operations process. 

Surface runoff is collected in the refinery’s storm pond and transferred to the Raw Water Pond as make-up water to the cooling towers (to be used for process cooling). The water is then diverted to an effluent pond, tested and stringently monitored for quality standard purposes and then sent back to the North Saskatchewan River.

Since implementing this practice in 2012, the refinery has reduced river water withdrawal by between 100,000 to 200,000 cubic metres per year (depending on the year’s rain and snow fall). That’s the equivalent of 40 to 80 Olympic-sized swimming pools and represents approximately 10% of the refinery’s yearly river water withdrawal. While the amount of water conserved is dependent on rain levels, every effort is made to maximize the amount of water recovered on-site during the spring and summer months.  

This project was part of the water reduction and recycle initiative incorporated into the design of the Refinery Conversion Project that changed crude feedstocks at the refinery to be 100% Alberta bitumen-based.

1 of 8