Belfer Center Home > Publications > Academic Papers & Reports > Journal Articles > Land and Water Impacts of Oil Sands Production in Alberta

EmailEmail   PrintPrint Bookmark and Share

"Land and Water Impacts of Oil Sands Production in Alberta"

Athabasca River, Alberta, Canada. Water availability in the Athabasca River is expected to decline due to climate change in the future while oil sands development expands.
Rob Grover Photo

"Land and Water Impacts of Oil Sands Production in Alberta"

Journal Article, Environmental Science and Technology, volume 46, issue 7, page 3611–3617

April 3, 2012

Author: Sarah Jordaan, Former Associate, Energy Technology Innovation Policy (ETIP) research group, April–August 2012; Former Research Fellow, ETIP, February 2011–March 2012

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Energy Technology Innovation Policy; Environment and Natural Resources; Science, Technology, and Public Policy



Expansion of oil sands development results not only in the release of greenhouse gas emissions, but also impacts land and water resources. Though less discussed internationally due to to their inherently local nature, land and water impacts can be severe. Research in key areas is needed to manage oil sands operations effectively; including improved monitoring of ground and surface water quality. The resulting information gap means that such impacts are not well understood. Improved analyses of oil sands products are required that compare land and water use with other transportation fuel pathways and use a regional perspective so local effects can be considered and mitigated.


Oil sands production in Alberta has rapidly expanded over the past decade, with growing concern about a range of environmental impacts....

Access the entire article here:


For more information about this publication please contact the ETIP Coordinator at 617-496-5584.

Full text of this publication is available at:

For Academic Citation:

Jordaan, Sarah. "Land and Water Impacts of Oil Sands Production in Alberta." Environmental Science and Technology 46, no. 7 (April 3, 2012): 3611–3617.

Bookmark and Share

"Water Consumption of Energy Resource Extraction, Processing, and Conversion"
By Erik Mielke, Laura Diaz Anadon and Venkatesh "Venky" Narayanamurti

"The Water–Energy Nexus in Middle East and North Africa"
By Afreen Siddiqi and Laura Diaz Anadon

Transforming the Energy Economy: Options for Accelerating the Commercialization of Advanced Energy Technologies
By Venkatesh "Venky" Narayanamurti, Laura Diaz Anadon, Hanna Breetz, Matthew Bunn, Henry Lee and Erik Mielke

Events Calendar

We host a busy schedule of events throughout the fall, winter and spring. Past guests include: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore, and former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.