In the northeastern corner of Alberta, nestled among the expanses of forests and wetlands, lies a major freshwater dilemma that Canada is currently facing.
Just down the river from Fort McMurray, massive ponds stretch for miles, filled with toxic water.
For decades, the Canadian oilsands industry has been filling these ponds with wastewater from oil extraction. The purpose of these ponds is to store and reuse water, in order to reduce the amount of new water taken from the nearby Athabasca River.
The reuse of water for oil extraction causes tailings ponds to accumulate higher and higher concentrations of harmful contaminants. As such, the water in these tailings ponds is dangerous, and often lethal, to birds, fish, frogs and plants.
Currently, there is enough sludge-like water to fill half a million Olympic-sized swimming pools—and this volume continues to increase. This huge amount of wastewater has recently