The Government of Alberta has released a Water Conservation Action Plan which includes short and long-term strategic actions to protect groundwater from the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing operations.

The Plan outlines 20 short-term and five long-term actions that are intended to help protect Alberta’s groundwater during oil and gas development. With respect to hydraulic fracturing, Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) in collaboration with Alberta Energy and the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) will:

  • expand the water conservation and allocation policy presently in place for oilfield injection to include water conservation measures for hydraulic fracturing, with the new policy to be finalized in early 2015; and
  • develop and implement science-based standards for baseline water well testing near hydraulic fracturing operations, with the new standards to be in place in early 2015.

In the long-term, ESRD will develop a regional approach to regulating hydraulic fracturing by considering the surrounding geological conditions of each region, which conditions can vary considerably across the province.

ESRD held 30 community meetings and consulted broadly in 2013 on how Albertans want to enhance groundwater protection. The Action Plan is meant to address some of the concerns raised in the consultations.