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Quenching our thirst for data with the Cenovus Water Tracker system app

Quenching our thirst for data
A water hauling driver using a tablet to complete a digital checklist after arriving on site.

January 2019 – Imagine keeping track of over 100,000 data points each year –  by hand. Up until a few years ago, this is how we tracked our fresh water use at our oil sands operations. Our water hauling drivers would fill out and submit thousands of paper reports, which was time-consuming and inefficient. To streamline the process and collect real-time data, we developed a mobile app called the Cenovus Water Tracker system.

To use the system, our drivers complete a digital checklist on a tablet once they arrive on site. The information entered becomes available almost immediately, giving us an accurate view of all of our local water use at any given time. The data is also complemented by information from other drivers, helping to ensure each hauler is in the right spot. Following a successful pilot program in 2016, we now use the app at all of our oil sands operations.

Moving away from paper forms has improved the quality of our information while reducing both time and costs associated with data entry. With a better understanding of how much is used, we're now able to apply for smaller volumes of water, reflecting the amount we actually need.

Water plays an important role in all of our operations. That's why we're constantly looking for ways to use it more efficiently. Our goal is to use water responsibly and have as little impact on local sources as possible. To achieve this, we monitor our consumption closely and comply with all government regulations.

Our oil sands operations do not use any water from rivers, lakes or streams to make steam during the steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) process. The small amount of fresh surface water we do use is for human consumption in our camps, drilling wells, construction, road maintenance and building ice roads in the winter.