Project Timeline


Contact Information

  • - Dr. David Sauchyn:



The scientific problem addressed by this project was the reliability and security of water supplies derived from the North Saskatchewan River (NSR). The industrial partner, Husky Energy, has heavy oil assets in the Lloydminster region of Saskatchewan and Alberta. These thermal projects rely on the NSR as a source of freshwater for steam generation at the oil processing facilities. Despite the apparent reliability of water supplies according to annual average flows, it is critical that we understand the factors that could limit water availability in the future for any stretch of time. This project was the first phase of a collaboration that will enable Husky to assess climate risks associated with long-term water sourcing from the NSR. The innovative science behind this project is the reconstruction of annual and seasonal river levels over past centuries and the stochastic downscaling of these proxy flows to weekly estimates. This paleohydrology captures a range of water levels, and modes of variability, that are not evident in the much shorter instrumental record. This natural variability underlies any shifts in the river hydrology caused by a changing climate. Therefore, understanding long-term natural variability is an important precursor to research on the impacts of anthropogenic climate change.