Obviously recycling as much water as possible is important. However, this does not come without a penalty. Each time the water is sent through the extraction process it picks up more chemicals from the oil sands (mainly inorganic salts and some soluble organic molecules) and any chemicals added during the process (for example, tailings treatment chemicals). Over time the amount of chemicals dissolved in the water increases. This is important because the chemistry of the water affects the efficiency of the bitumen extraction process, how the fresh tailings behave when they are dumped to the pond, and what will have to be done to reclaim the tailings and water when the mining is finished.
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