Bow River News - Oct 9th, 2007

Bow Riverkeeper

1. How can we rejuvenate Alberta's Water for Life Strategy?

Alberta's Water for Life Strategy is under review. As part of this review process, a coalition of citizen-based organizations came together and submitted a report to the Alberta Water Council outlining its analysis and review of the strategy. Issues addressed in this report include: funding, protection of drinking water sources, progress made on protecting healthy aquatic ecosystems, watershed planning, shared governance, and water conservation.

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2. Precedent Setting Proposal Puts Too Much Power In Hands of Water Permit Holder

A proposal before Alberta Environment is prompting public debate over water allocation on the Bow River. The proposal, which seeks to amend the water "use" on a large water licence, could have implications for water use and allocation across the province. If approved, this amendment would create a loophole to the existing Water Act which provides a system of checks and balances for the reallocation of water from one use to another. Its approval could pave the way for thousands of water licensees across Alberta to follow suit delegating significant government responsibility for the allocation and use of water to private license holders.

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3. "Business as Usual" in southern foothills leads to slow but steady environmental degradation

A compelling new report shows that maintaining the status quo in land-use planning in the Southern East Slopes of the Rocky Mountains will lead to slow but certain environmental degradation of the region - and we are not well-equipped to cope.

This report is timely as the province completes the consultation period in a process to develop a Land-Use Framework. This Framework will define land-use priorities and ideally lead to improved integrated decisions around land and water decisions. The southern foothills report lends ammunition to those participating in the process who support stronger restrictions on human activities on Alberta's landscape and more coordinated decision making around water and land use.

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4. What makes the Red Deer River Watershed Unique?

The Red Deer River Watershed is a watershed under pressure — but unique pressures from those in other watersheds in Alberta. Because the Red Deer is considered a healthy river, it is being propositioned by surrounding watersheds that are running low on water. Various proposals have and are seeking water from the Red Deer to quench the thirst of the economic boom — proposals from both the south and the north.

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5. Government Honours Conservation Holdback in Balzac Water Licence

On Friday September 28, 2007, Alberta Environment announced its approval of the water allocation transfer from the Western Irrigation District (WID) to Municipal District (MD) of Rocky View for 6700 cubic metres per day. However, Rocky View and the mega-entertainment complex will not receive all of this water. As a minor victory for the environment, 10% of the 6700 cubic metres per day will be held back, as a conservation holdback, for the Bow River.

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6. Horseshoe Lands Development is allowed to plan...

Despite opposition from the environmental community, the Horseshoe Lands Area Structure Plan unanimously passed third reading in the MD of Bighorn Council on September 27, 2007. This is despite having no guaranteed source of water for the full community.

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