Province caps watershed funding

Funding shortfalls will put a pinch on a group charged with maintaining and improving the health of the Red Deer River watershed.

Funding shortfalls will put a pinch on a group charged with maintaining and improving the health of the Red Deer River watershed.

On Wednesday, Alberta Environment announced a cap of $250,000 each on the core funding provided to the nine regional watershed councils now operating across the province. That includes the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance, which received core funding of $324,950 last year.

The Red Deer council is responsible for monitoring and making recommendations pertaining to all lands flowing into the Red Deer River, from the Banff Park boundary the Alberta-Saskatchewan border.

While no staff changes are anticipated, the Red Deer council has already looked at ways of cutting back its programs, said chair Earl Graham, deputy reeve of Clearwater County.

“It will put a cramp on how we do business, but we anticipated the dilemma the province is in and we have started to make adjustments already and will carry on,” said Graham.

“Overall, we will see not as many programs going forward, that’s for sure.

“We might have to be not as ambitious with our plans, but I think, going forward, we will be fine.”

Red Deer Watershed Alliance was among the first councils struck under the province’s Water For Life strategy.

Environment Minister Rob Renner said in a prepared statement issued on Wednesday that a new system provides the councils with essential operational support and helps streamline the funding process.

Renner said some additional funding will be available for specific projects, but he did not elaborate on whether any of those projects involved the Red Deer council.

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