It turns out the Alberta Energy Regulator never should have approved Canadian Natural Resources Limited’s licence to withdraw water from Cutbank Lake. The area is a trumpeter swan habitat and activity is restricted between April 1st and September 30th.
Public affairs officer Tracie Moore explains that because the lake is surrounded by private land, it is protected, but that didn’t show up in the application’s review.
“The concern was that we didn’t trigger for private land; it triggered for Crown. So we’ve updated our systems, we’ve fixed our systems, not just for Cutbank Lake but for private land lakes that have these sensitive areas on them.”
The Temporary Diversion Licence was originally issued on June 15th, but was suspended due to concerns about nesting Trumpeter swans. Those couldn’t be confirmed and pulling began again on July 9th. More than 13 million litres of water had already been withdrawn, but the AER says water levels remain the same thanks to recent rainfall.
CNRL had until Wednesday to remove its equipment, but spokesperson Julie Woo says that’s already been done. The company could apply to withdraw water again after the end of September but has not yet determined its future requirements