Let’s talk water

Join the water conversation

Water is not only our most valuable resource – it’s a life source.

We’re proud of our water accomplishments to date. We have a long history of strong policies, like the Water for Life strategy, and effective conservation and protection.

In fact, environmentalists have applauded our current water allocation system, which has been in place for more than 100 years, for effectively managing water in times of low supply.

Our province is growing fast.

Vibrant communities and a thriving economy means we must start planning now to ensure our water resources continue to meet the needs of Albertans – now and in the future. We must manage water in a way that protects our resources – from clean drinking water to enjoying our lakes – while allowing economic growth to continue.

We’re committed to getting it right. Albertans are passionate about water, and we don’t want to jump to solutions until we’ve heard what Albertans have to say. It’s a commitment Premier Redford made during the election, and a commitment I plan to fulfill as Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. Collectively, we need to take a long-term view of water – for people, food and industry – to ensure our water is here for generations to come.

But, we need your help.

Water Conversation

We want to hear all sides of the water conversation. By sharing your experiences and exploring ideas, we hope to come to a common understanding about how best to meet our long-term needs. This is vey much a two-way conversation.

While all water-related concerns are a welcome part of the discussion, we’re starting out by focusing on four priorities identified by Albertans:

This is just one step in what will be an ongoing dialogue.

However, it’s important to be clear that certain options are not under consideration:

  • Our water will not be sold beyond our borders; and
  • The fundamental principles of our “first in right, first in time” priority allocation system will not change.

And I want to assure you that landowners don’t have to worry about their private water wells or licences.

Join the conversation

Alberta’s water belongs to all Albertans – how it’s managed for the future is vitally important to us all.  I encourage you to join the conversation:

So let’s talk water.  I hope to hear from you soon.

– Diana McQueen, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

14 thoughts on “Let’s talk water

  1. Hi Shaun, thanks for your question.

    The focus of the conversations will be on the four main priority areas – healthy lakes, fracturing, water systems and water management. However, other water-related concerns can be brought up, either during the sessions, by email, or by completing the online workbook which will be posted next week on http://www.waterconversation.alberta.ca

  2. When experts discuss water issues in Alberta, the main issue that always comes to light, is the limited water that is available in the south.

    The Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy wrote a report on Lessons for Canada and Alberta. In it, they point to the importance of undertaking headwater (upland watershed) protection due to significantly reduced water flows in the Saskatchewan River system.

    The South Saskatchewan Region includes 45 per cent of Alberta’s
    population and the province’s largest city, Calgary. Half of Calgary’s drinking water is provided by the Elbow River.

    Clear Cut logging is currently taking place in the Elbow River headwaters. Clear Cut logging has a direct effect on the water cycle and the water value.

    How is affecting half the water supply to Calgary and surrounding communities, not one of the ESRD’s four main priorities? How is going against the Rosenberg International Forum’s suggestions and talking with public who have little to no knowledge about Alberta’s water issues, going to solve this provinces problem?

    As Bill Donahue, Director of science and policy for the advocacy group Water Matters, stated:

    “We need to deal with this in a way that puts everything on the table because if we pull the most controversial things off the table, we just nibble around at the edges of the problem. … It is a big problem and it’s only going to get bigger.”

  3. To get a good glimpse of just how important discussing our water issues are, everyone should have a look at the docmumentary “Blue Gold – World Water Wars) This will be an eye opener to us as to just how good we have it, water wise. I’m glad Alberta is putting this issue on the table. Just look at the drought in the U.S. and many places are running on the edge as the huge under ground resevoirs are running dry. Watch out, especially for water “privatization”. We do not want this to happen for any reason! Watch the doc!

    • It is something else when all you really see are two comments about the usage and regulation of our water. I really hope that people start to become more informed and more involved because I do believe we will be making decisions over the next year that will change the rights of future generations with regards to water. This issue is very important. I plan on staying as informed and involved as my government allows me to be 😉 Btw Jonathan, privatizing water is something that they would like to move more towards as mentioned in the managing section of the survey. Scary stuff people. Very scary.

  4. I think Alberta’s business and political leaders are addicted to a model of economic growth that is unsustainable. As a fourth-generation Albertan with 17 grandchildren I don’t think in short-term risk and benefit as our political and business leaders do. I think of lessons learned from my grandfathers and the survival chances of my descendants. Water is simply too important to let Calgary/Edmonton lead a stampede into fracking and tar sands developments.

    Where will Alberta get its water in 2099? Will my grandchildren and their families be water refugees? Will they turn to violence in order to protect water supplies or to take water from some other jurisdiction? I believe it is time to slow down, for our own good. A lot of people would disagree with me now, but I’m pretty sure few of our descendants will disagree in 50 years from now as they join the migration in search of water.

    • Thank you for your comment, John. We must manage water in a way that protects our resources – from clean drinking water to enjoying our lakes – while allowing economic growth to continue. That is why we’re having this conversation with Albertans, experts and water stewards across the province – to ensure our future generations can continue to enjoy our most precious resource.

  5. War over water is happening in the world, if we lose global water without implementing the technology to improve and maintain current levels of quality we are creating a global epidemic.

    • I have boated extensively on the lower Athabasca River near Fort Chipewyan for 40 years. My background is science although I did not complete a science degree. My specialization is the environment although I learned it most from Dene teachers and much less from professors. My career is education and management because an injury in my youth forced me into a sedentary career.

      The Athabasca river delta is and has been the most productive natural environment in Alberta since Europeans first saw it. It is still the central hunting and fishing territory of a whole community of people, particularly the Metis and Dene people (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation) of the Fort Chipewyan region. ACFN’s main reserve is located in the Athabasca delta, chosen specifically to provide a means of survival during a time a famine. The old Metis community of Big Point is on the edge of the delta including one delta island.

      Alberta is preparing and implementing plans that will change the Athabasca delta as we know it for decades or centuries. Fort Chipewyan residents are alarmed by these plans and are alarmed that their delta is about to be deliberately devastated by the government of Alberta. Fort Chipewyan is committing a large percentage of its resources to saving the delta but Alberta and Canada are conspiring to defeat the community. I am ashamed of ESRD staff my age (63) who have seen what Alberta looked like 50 years ago yet take part in this destruction. Willing blindness is not the same as ignorance. Perhaps all the old-timers are gone, replaced by zombie migrants who know nothing and want to please their political-industrial masters. I feel sad for the young Albertans who willingly believe all the lies about protecting the environment.

      Want proof? All one has to do is compare the fur production from the Athabasca delta 1888-1968 against the total wildlife counts in the delta 1968-2008. You will find that the annual production of fur was much larger in the pre-1968 era than the total count of wildlife since 1968 (in some foundation species such as muskrat there is a 99% reduction in numbers). You will also find that wildlife numbers have stayed depressed and deformed fish have become common since 1968. Extrapolate the LARP and PLAR over the delta and we can expect another exponential reduction in the Athabasca delta’s productivity. People will suffer and this should be acknowledged right now. This is about predictable direct harm to long-term citizens of Fort Chipewyan and direct harm to Alberta’s richest ecosystem.

      Most government, industry and average Joes just ridicule or brush off these statements. Think of the premier or prime minister or CAPP or tradesmen or Bay Street traders or bankers. They are wrong and time will prove it. I only hope our grandchildren will survive and live in Alberta and not become environmental refugees. I can’t support any Alberta government discussion about the environment while Alberta’s agenda is to plunder the north in order to pave the south of the province. I’m too old and too tired to fight the political-industrial alliance any longer. It’s too bad for Alberta that the current “leaders” are steering coming generations into the abyss. John Rigney, Fort Chipewyan

      • Hi John, Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective. I’ve sent your message to the Water Conversation team. They have read it and will contact you directly. Thank you again.

      • Can you let us know John how that private conversation went? The Athabasca area is getting a lot of attention these days, especially after the documentary of H2Oil where there was an alarming rate of abnormal cancers happening in that area as well as huge environmental decline of local habitat. Just curious if any light was shed on the situation.

      • I’m not sure which conversation you refer to. I haven’t had any private conversations with government representatives, mostly scientists and researchers.

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