Water Conversation: Edmonton and Okotoks

 Hundreds of Albertans attended the water conversation in Edmonton and Okotoks last night.  It was great to hear so many different ideas and perspectives. 

Minister McQueen gave the closing remarks in Okotoks, where she spoke about the importance of local involvement as we work to build a 50-year plan that will benefit us, and future generations.  A number of Ministers and local MLAs joined the conversation in Edmonton; Doug Horner, Heather Klimchuk, Stephan Khan, Janice Sarich, David Dorwood and Maureen Kubinec.

Edmonton

In attendance: 186

Healthy lakes

  • Government must be prepared to make difficult decisions for the greater good – too much focus on industry
  • Need clarity about who does what when it comes to lakes
  • We already know what to do, so just do it

Drinking water and wastewater systems

  • Clean drinking water is a right – human use should trump industry
  • Need a strategy for funding infrastructure
  • Full cost accounting needed
  • Education about the real cost of high quality water is needed
  • Need to recognize the importance of wetlands
  • Important to use natural treatment method
  • Fluoride should not be in drinking water

Hydraulic fracturing

  • Lack of understanding of the topic
  • Want more transparency and information
  • Important to have information based in science
  • Generally liked the concept of greater monitoring and transparency for hydraulic fracturing
  • Some would like to stop hydraulic fracturing, others enjoy benefits of development
  • Ensure promotion of water conservation, and stop using fresh water

Water management

  • Water is for Albertans
  • Action needed now, not far in the future
  • Need more science-based information to make decisions
  • Full cost accounting should include costs to the environmental
  • Water management is more than just river flows – it must also include lakes, wetlands, groundwater, etc.
  • Need to look at future implications of water management, such as climate change
  • Credibility of government and industry – need to build trust

Okotoks

In attendance: 81

Healthy lakes

  • Wetlands should be included in this topic – should look at big picture of ecosystem
  • Need to look at all users of different water bodies, and different purposes; not just for irrigation or recreation
  • Better definitions of what water bodies are, what this would cover
  • Get better baseline date on what want to manage
  • Get better handle on pollutants entering lake systems
  • Appetite for provincial guidelines to create consistency, but recognize uniqueness of each region, lakes in each area are different
  • Concerns about enforcement: make sure resources in place to police
  • Need for consistency

Drinking water and wastewater systems

  • Clean water should be available to all Albertans
  • Protect sources of clean water
  • More work needed on understanding supply of water
  • Focus on wetlands, they have important role in clean water
  • Provide more management of water at watershed level
  • Concerns about inequities: access to clean water different in regions, cities versus rural
  • Allocations to industry versus allocations to people: people should have highest priority
  • Benefits to collaboration among regions, important to maintain local control over local resources
  • Need incentives to conserve, versus disincentives to not conserve

Hydraulic fracturing

  • Update conservation policy
  • Groundwater mapping important, need to continue to better understand
  • Do we understand enough about fracturing and impacts on water?
  • Encourage asking oil and gas to use more saline water
  • Encourage increasing baseline testing
  • Transparency of information, especially what is most important to know: how does it impact my well, who do I call if it does, what happens if my well becomes contaminated, who is accountable and what happens?

Water management

  • Protected water in river basins, base decisions on science
  • Storage not just human, but natural options
  • Allocation transfer systems not clear
  • Consider what watersheds use for in allocations, uses change over
  • time
  • Water conservation: incentives and rewards systems needed, think differently about water

Upcoming Sessions

The water conversation tour stops in Bonnyville and Lethbridge today and will take a break next week before resuming in SlaveLake and Rocky Mountain House on March 12.

If you’re unable to attend a community session in person, we encourage you to learn more through the conversation guide and provide your feedback through the online workbook

Join us for a live Twitter chat on Wednesday, March 6 from 12-1:30 p.m. Send us your questions to @AENV_SRD and follow the conversation by using the #abwater hashtag.

Thurs, February 28
Bonnyville
Willow Prairie Hall
Hwy 41 & Hwy 55 (near La Corey)
Thurs, February 28
Lethbridge
Lethbridge Lodge & Conf Centre
320 Scenic Drive
Tues, March 12
Slave Lake
Slave Lake Inn & Conf Centre
1200 Main Street SW
Tues, March 12
Rocky Mountain House
Lou Soppit Community Centre
4733 – 54 Avenue

2 thoughts on “Water Conversation: Edmonton and Okotoks

  1. I attended the session in Edmonton and is this all that was recorded from the conversations? The discussions I heard and the comments and suggestions provided by the groups I observed were much more thoughtful, informed, and specific than those captured here.

    • Hi Nicole,

      Note-takers were present at each session to ensure that everyone’s thoughts were recorded in full – creating a full record of the discussions was one of our top priorities during this process. As a result, we ended up with way too much information to include in a single blog post. 🙂 These recaps are meant to capture the main themes that emerged during each session, but they’re certainly not complete records. We’ll be releasing our full ‘What we Heard’ report as soon as it’s ready.

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