Water Management

Water2We aspire to be world leaders in water management, producing Canadian energy with no adverse impact on water.

Water is a high-value commodity and COSIA’s Water Environment Priority Area (EPA) is looking for innovative and sustainable solutions to reduce water use and increase water recycling rates at oil sands mining and in situ operations in order to achieve our Aspiration to “be world leaders in water management, producing Canadian energy with no adverse impact on water.

The Water EPA has also identified additional key issues facing the industry and is working to address the following:

  • improving the use and management of all water resources, fresh, saline and recycled;
  • creating a collaborative regional water management solution that links mining and in situ supply/demand;
  • accelerating the development and commercialization of water treatment technologies;
  • developing game-changing steam generation technology to reduce water used to produce steam for in situ oil sands development;
  • managing salt accumulation in water streams on mine sites during active mining.


Performance Goals



In Situ

Reduce freshwater use intensity by 50 per cent by 2022.

COSIA members are developing new technologies and sharing best practices to enable further reduction of the impact of their in situ operations on fresh water resources. This Performance Goal singles out fresh water use, rather than saline water, due to its importance to the environment and to other water users in the region.



Reduce the net water use intensity from the Athabasca River and its tributaries by 30 percent by 2022.

This 30 per cent reduction will be achieved while adhering to sustainable water management principles of ‘reduce-reuse-return’ for all mine sites, more specifically:

  1. Optimising water reduction and recycling opportunities while balancing the net environmental impact and associated costs of both.
  2. Reducing the amount of water retained in tailings.
  3. Confirming the technical basis for returning treated water to Athabasca River while meeting all environmental and regulatory requirements.
  4. Understanding and managing the cumulative effects on the Athabasca River watershed. 
  5. Further improving the knowledge and understanding of pit lakes. 
  6. Specific challenges and opportunities – Salts. 

Open Source Innovation

COSIA's Innovation Opportunities provide focused, actionable descriptions of the current state of opportunities related to environmental processes and impacts of the oil sands industry. Case Studies include everything from theoretical papers to lab tests to field trials and everything in between. In Research, you'll find considerable resources in academic literature research, laboratory research and environmental studies.

Collaborate With Us

Our Environmental Technology Assessment Portal (E-TAP) provides an effective means to tap into the global environmental sector for solutions to current and future technology gaps and opportunities. If you have a technology idea you would like to submit on a non-confidential basis to COSIA for consideration then we invite you to submit your idea.