The following excerpts are taken from WaterCanada’s July/August issue of, “The Trickle-Down Effect” – Industry, agriculture, and government have voices about water in Alberta. But who speaks for the environment’s needs? by Susan R. Eaton
“Heralded as the economic growth engine of Canada, Alberta has recently discovered that its most strategic resource may not be subsurface oil and gas reserves. Perhaps more critical to future economic development will be the existence of abundant and predictable quantities of water. As the prairie province deals with water allocation for a burgeoning population and expanding industrial sectors – oil sands, agriculture, petrochemicals and power generation - it is feeling the impacts of climate change, including droughts, destructive floods, and reduced contributions from rapidly receding mountain glaciers that feed Alberta’s waterways and aquifers…”
Uploaded by thinkwatercanada on Dec 7, 2007 – A TV SPOT in a series for the United Nations Canada Water for Life initiative. The Bow River Basin Council and the Oldman Watershed Council are providing leadership and solutions to how water is conserved and protected. Visit thinkwater.ca for more information.
“In August 2006, four of five rivers in southern Alberta’s South Saskatchewan River Basin were closed to new water withdrawals, due to over-allocation by the provincial regulator.
In northern Alberta, oil sands companies continue to seek increased allocations from the Athabasca River to support their rapidly expanding, water-intensive bitumen mining and upgrading operations. Current withdrawals may have already compromised the river’s healthy inflow capacity during the low-flow fall and winter months… Critics accuse the Alberta government of approving amendments to senior water licence agreements—often without public input—and of diverting unused volumes of water to third parties, for purposes other than originally intended and to the detriment of Alberta’s waterways. The Province created its Water Act in 2000, legislating, for the first time, the monetization—through the sale, transfer, or carving up of senior water rights—of Alberta’s water resources… Andy Ridge is the director of water policy for Alberta’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development…”
Uploaded by WaterMattersAB on Mar 23, 2010 -A short video that explains the upcoming water allocation review. Please visit us http://www.water-matters.org/program/share-the-water
“Water mastery Ridge says, when it comes to meeting that water needs of Alberta’s diverse stakeholders, “it’s always circumstance specific.” “We apply water mastery when there’s an issue,” says Ridge. “Water mastery” is his term to describe the Province’s balancing act of meeting the water needs—current and future. “In tough times, we get involved to ensure that everyone is less harmed,” says Ridge. But tough times have existed for more than a decade in southern Alberta, where the Province has ordered junior water holders to reduce or stop water withdrawals, enabling “first in time, first in right” senior holders to maintain their draws… In 2010, the Province approved a request for an amendment of the City of Calgary’s senior license to divert treated wastewater to a new gas-fired power plant being built nearby by ENMAX Corporation. In 2007, the Province approved an amendment to the City of Edmonton’s water senior license, enabling it to sell wastewater to Petro- Canada Ltd. (now Suncor Energy Inc.) for use in heavy oil upgrading operations east of the city. In both instances, Donahue explains, the amendments of senior water licences resulted in negative benefits to Calgary’s Bow River and to Edmonton’s North Saskatchewan River, as wastewater was diverted for industrial purposes and not returned to the river systems. He adds that Petro-Canada and ENMAX avoided costly public environmental hearings and idn’t have to apply for low priority, junior water licenses. Return it to the rivers For the past decade, the City of Calgary has encouraged its residents to conserve water, even providing financial incentives to purchase low flush toilets and install water meters. However, Calgarians who believed they were contributing to improving the aquatic health and trout habitat of the Bow River— billed by Travel Alberta as the world’s premier trout fishing stream – might be surprised to learn that the water conserved had been sold for industrial users or to ther municipalities in southern Alberta… The Calgary-based Water Conservation Trust of Canada is working toward ensuring conserved water gets back to the stream…The Trust’s mandate revolves around holding water conservation licenses. However, according to Ridge, “The concept of a license that’s being held for the environment – that’s what the Water Conservation Trust of Canada is promoting – is contained in the Water Act.” To date, only the Province olds these conservation licenses in trust, but the Water Act doesn’t specifically prohibit other groups from doing so, too. Just as Alberta’s homesteaders developed the province in the early 1900s, Bell, a native Albertan, is ioneering a new vision for prosperity which includes an innovative tool to achieve the healthy aquatic ecosystems contemplated within the provincial Water Act. “We’ve spent six years breaking trail,” said Bell, “and we’re close to a breakthrough.”
Water as a Limited Resource
Got Thirst? Will Alberta’s Water Law leave you high and dry?