Water Conversation: Rocky Mountain House and Slave Lake

The second leg of the Water Conversation kicked off in Rocky Mountain House and Slave Lake on March 12, where residents, local water stewards and municipal representatives came out to share their thoughts on the future of Alberta’s water.

Minister McQueen joined the table discussions in Rocky Mountain House and was pleased with the passion and input from the participants.  Here’s a summary of what they had to say.

Rocky Mountain House

In attendance: 35

Healthy lakes

  • Need to consider lake health by looking at overall health of watershed
  • Consider the source of pollutants in lakes
  • Lake health is often a local issue, often only of concern to residents or those who enjoy the area for recreation
  • Do we need umbrella group, unified and coordinated approach to address issues surrounding lake health?
  • A coordinated approach involving all the western provinces might be considered
  • Regional planning is a way to guide a provincial approach

Drinking water and wastewater systems

  • General support for geographical approach but it must be responsive to local needs
  • Need more study on groundwater supplies, more monitoring, more impact assessments
  • May need to look at making greater use of grey water
  • Consider rain water capture
  • Systems and requirements may change but resources for municipalities stay the same
  • Regular testing is essential to ensure quality
  • Regulatory systems can’t be one size fits all
  • Adequate quantity and quality for all before industry or other uses
  • We have to value water to ensure future supply
  • Government role to ensure sustainability and quality and enforce standards
  • WPACs should be adequately funded for valuable study
  • More environmental monitoring
  • Ensure adequate storage
  • Ensure watershed protection

Hydraulic fracturing

  • Practice of hydraulic fracturing around a long time and plays important role in resource development
  • Conservation of fresh water a priority
  • Making industry pay will drive efficiencies
  • Questions about number of inspections, criteria for inspections, carried out annually by ERCB
  • Agriculture and industry are inter-dependent and must communicate and cooperate about land and water use
  • If industry can’t carry out its activities without the use of chemicals, it should halt proceedings until it can

Water management

  • Make it easy for people to understand what is being allocated and where
  • Consider full water cycle when making allocation decisions
  • Impact of forestry on watershed is understated – forestry impacting natural storage, impact seen in flooding
  • Education needed to change the way we use water
  • Questions about amount of water drawn by industry from aquifiers without sufficient knowledge about state of aquifier
  • Concern about water allocation hoarders, primarily Edmonton and Calgary
  • Open up conversation about allocation process
  • Need better support, funding for local water, land groups
  • Price would be effective measure to reduce consumption

Slave Lake

In attendance: 23

Healthy Lakes

  • Polluter should pay for damage
  • Lots of discussions have been had – time for action

Drinking water and wastewater systems

  • Include ecosystem management in school curriculum
  • Partnerships are important to source protection
  • Lots of positives to regional planning
  • Integrated management
  • Time to take action

Hydraulic fracturing

  • Albertans need more information and transparency
  • Should look for ways to use non-potable water
  • Water quality should come before economics

Water management

  • Emphasis on regional planning – listen to local knowledge
  • Protect watershed and ecosystem
  • Drinking water should not be used by industry
  • Need to take action now – we’ve talked enough
  • Start with small steps, if necessary

Upcoming Sessions

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.

We also invite you to join the conversation online by following us on Twitter or using the #abwater hashtag.

Wed, March 13
Thorsby Community Centre
4813 – 49 Street
5 – 8 p.m.
Thurs, March 14
Fort McMurray
Sawridge Inn & Conf Centre
530 MacKenzie Blvd
5 – 8 p.m.
Thurs, March 14
Red Deer
iHotel (formerly Holiday Inn)
6500 – 67 Street
5 – 8 p.m.

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