WINNIPEG – The city of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan is surviving on bottled water for the time being.
They had to shut off their water intake from the North Saskatchewan River because of a recent oil spill.
It begs the question: how would Winnipeg cope if something like that happened here?
“We have about 30 days worth of reserved water for the city of Winnipeg right now,” explains Jay Shaw, acting manager of emergency management. “That’s your basic general guideline. We’re going to be able to have more water when we’re having low usage times but if we’re in a high water usage time we might have a little bit less.”
Shaw says that those in emergency management positions like his are keeping a close eye on what is happening in Saskatchewan so they can learn.
“Everybody is kind of perked up and is listening to what’s going on there. I think our city would do much the same thing in terms of what Prince Albert is doing,” Shaw explains. “They’ve activated council, declared a state of local emergency, and they’ve started to look at bylaws and restrictions to make sure they protect their water supply and make sure none of that oil gets into the taps of the people of Prince Albert.”
Shaw says they are legislated to do emergency preparedness exercises every 18 months, but reveals that Winnipeg usually does them more often than that.
“We do small exercises and large exercises, some internally with the city and some with other stakeholders. We’ve done exercises with rail line companies, with airport authorities. We’re always looking to test and make sure we are up to par.”
By contrast with our month of reserved water, Prince Albert has about a week’s worth of bottled water stashed away.