Freshwater Management in Canada 

Alberta RiverUntil the early 2000s, most Albertans didn’t give much thought to water use. Population growth, droughts and agricultural and industrial development changed that, bringing this finite resource to the forefront of the province’s collective consciousness.

The same is true for Devon. Water stewardship is as important to Devon as it is to all Canadians. That is why in 2003, Devon became the second oil and natural gas producer in Canada to develop a freshwater management and usage policy.

Among other things, this policy commits the company to find alternatives to fresh water use when possible, to protect surface and groundwater from contamination and to educate employees so that they can do the same.The policy has become an ingrained part of the Devon culture. For instance:

§         Since 2001, Devon’s freshwater use has declined by 40 percent, in part because of field initiatives prompted by the water policy.

§         Our Vice President of Exploitation in Canada serves on the Alberta Water Council. The council is a partnership of government, industry and non-government organizations, all with a shared goal of implementing Alberta’s Water for Life strategy and ensuring safe, abundant water supplies for a sustainable economy.

§         Devon has become a proud supporter of a program called Take the Plunge, which encourages students throughout Canada to reduce their water usage through simple acts of conservation such as reducing showering times.

§         In June 2009, Devon published its first water bulletin, reminding employees and the public of the company’s commitment to conservation. A Devon Water Task Group also helps ensure wise water decisions.

Devon twice has been honored for its water conservation efforts by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers: In 2005, we received a CAPP Steward of Excellence Award for our overall approach to water management. In 2008 we received the same award for a water conservation system we developed at our Jackfish thermal heavy oil facility.

You can read about how we produce up to 35,000 barrels of oil each day at Jackfish without using a drop of fresh water. You also can read about how we reduced freshwater use by 40 percent at our Coleman natural gas plant in the Rocky Mountains of southern Alberta, and how ingenuity helped reduce our freshwater need by 800,000 gallons per natural gas well in northern Alberta.    

“We have taken a leadership role regarding water conservation. That’s what is so rewarding about working here. I am very appreciative to be part of a company that tries to set an example,” said Brent Moore, a Devon field environmental advisor and hydrogeologist.

Moore, who chairs the company’s Water Task Group, noted that the oil and gas industry uses a tiny fraction of Alberta’s total water allocation. The industry receives 7.1 percent of the total water available and uses less than half of its allocation.

At Devon, we realize that water is a finite resource. Our water usage policy is more than a piece of paper tacked onto breakroom walls. It’s a commitment.