Development driving province’s public water consultations

Development around Central Alberta’s lakes is helping drive the province’s public water consultations.

Development around Central Alberta’s lakes is helping drive the province’s public water consultations.

“We’re seeing a lot of growth pressure around Central Alberta lakes — Sylvan, Gull, Buffalo, Pine — and we’re seeing an increase in algae blooms as a result,” said Andy Lamb, Central Region director for Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

He spoke at a Red Deer River Watershed Alliance breakfast on Friday about the province’s Water Conversations program, part of the ongoing Water For Life strategy to ensure safe, secure drinking water, healthy aquatic ecosystems and reliable supply for industry.

Province-wide consultations focus on lakes, hydraulic fracturing, drinking and wastewater systems and water management. A session was held in Red Deer on Thursday night.

Public input confirms the need for clarity around the roles of all three levels of government regarding lakes.

“There are lots of stewardship groups around them, but do we need provincial-scale management to support them? What we’re hearing is, set up an umbrella group for a unified approach,” Lamb said, adding the public also wants sources of chemical and biological pollutants identified.

While hydraulic fracturing — using fluids under high pressure to free hydrocarbons from underground rock – is well regulated and been used since the 1950s, Albertans want better inspections and monitoring, including baseline testing to see if fracking changes groundwater aquifers.

No potable water should be used, fresh water should be conserved and industry should pay for water for fracking, he added.

Though the province regulates and monitors municipal and private drinking and wastewater treatment, its encouragement of regionalized systems has led to worries about cost increases and loss of local control. The input sessions also show needs for ensuring water for drinking before industrial use, more information on groundwater supply and adequately funding watershed planning and advisory councils like the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance.

Water management discussions stress no sale or interbasin transfer of Alberta water, actions Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Minister Diana McQueen has said the province won’t take. Input also identified water use optimization, conservation and storage as important as well as regional planning.

Stakeholders also want more information and data to better understand what’s allocated where and by whom. They have the perception Calgary and Edmonton are “hoarding” their allocations for future use, said Lamb.

“We’ve been getting very good response with a huge amount of feedback.

“We’ll produce a What We Heard document for use to inform future government water policy, probably by early summer.”

The public can take part through an online workbook and survey until March 29. That information can be found at www.waterconversation.alberta.ca.

rfiedler@reddeeradvocate

Just Posted

Court to rule on B.C.’s pipeline permit law in crucial case for Trans Mountain

VANCOUVER — A court will rule today if a proposed British Columbia… Continue reading

Theresa May: A prime minister defined and defeated by Brexit

LONDON — Theresa May became prime minister in 2016 with one overriding… Continue reading

SpaceX launches 60 little satellites, 1st of thousands

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX has launched 60 little satellites, the first… Continue reading

Cross-Canada corridor concept getting dusted off ahead of election

OTTAWA — The notion of a pan-Canadian corridor dedicated to rail, power… Continue reading

RCMP investigate suspicious package in downtown Red Deer

Part of downtown Red Deer was closed to traffic due to a… Continue reading

Dogs and drugs don’t mix: Red Deer business wants to leave downtown after 18 years

One business owner is done with downtown Red Deer after 18 years.… Continue reading

Cast your votes for the Best of Red Deer

Nominations for the Best of Red Deer Readers’ Choice Awards are officially… Continue reading

O Canada: Hockey hotbed now produces tennis players, too

ROME — It’s typically Canadian that Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Bianca… Continue reading

Proctor back chasing running records after cross-Canada speed attempt

CALGARY — Dave Proctors’ attempted speed record across Canada last summer was… Continue reading

Big names headed to New Mexico to film ‘The Comeback Trail’

SANTA FE, N.M. — Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones… Continue reading

Lawyer: Deal close in Weinstein sexual misconduct lawsuits

NEW YORK — A tentative deal has been reached to settle multiple… Continue reading

Seniors: The unheard melodies

The sights and sounds around us enable us to experience our world.… Continue reading

Police find urn with ashes along bank of Red Deer River

RCMP find urn with ashes along bank of Red Deer River Red… Continue reading

North Vancouver RCMP seek skier whose pole caused brain injury to B.C. teen

VANCOUVER — A North Vancouver family is joining with RCMP to urge… Continue reading

Most Read