Over the last few years Dawson Creek, in British Columbia, Canada, has moved from its traditional reliance on farming and ranching to include benefits from the oil and gas industry. Around 50 kilometres (30 miles) away, for example, a major resource of natural gas lies underground at Shell’s Groundbirch project.

When Shell engineers planned to tap it by drilling many new wells they knew it would require a lot of water. In an area prone to water shortages, they needed to avoid drawing on fresh water.

Shell teamed up with the city’s council in a special agreement to build a waste-water plant at the local sewage treatment area.

The plant uses man-made technology and natural bacteria to help clean up water that would otherwise be discharged into a local river.

Some of the treated water is reserved for Dawson Creek and can be used to irrigate public parks and sport fields.

A large volume is delivered through a 48-kilometre (29-mile) pipeline to the Groundbirch gas field, where it is pumped at high pressure into wells to help release natural gas. This virtually eliminates the need to draw on fresh water for Shell’s natural gas operations.

The pipeline reduces the need for tanker trucks, cutting down on noise and dust and making roads safer. The city also supplies this treated water to other operators in the area, resulting in greater operational sustainability and an improved environmental outcome for our entire industry.

Reusing and recycling water

Reusing and recycling water

We take steps to manage our use of water responsibly – including looking for beneficial ways to recycle and reuse this valuable resource.

Read how we manage water responsibly
A natural filter for water

A natural filter for water

In the Omani desert, reed beds are being used to naturally clean water produced as oil extracted, before it evaporates.

Find out more about Nimr reed beds

More in Sustainability

Our approach to fresh water

We manage our use of water carefully and invest in new approaches and technologies to use it more efficiently.


Our projects can affect local natural habitats and communities that depend on them. Read about our work on biodiversity around the world.

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