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Blueprint Alberta: H20
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The Expert's Opinion

Committing to the principles of water conservation
Kent Robinson, Acting CAO MD of Rocky View

 

Responsible management and use of our most important resource – water – is essential for the long-term health, viability, and sustainability of Alberta’s individual municipalities and the province as a whole.

The boundaries of water are governed more by geography than by politics. However, it is precisely because water is a regional resource that its sound management requires a regional approach.

Residents of the Municipal District of Rocky View have historically relied on groundwater, which is typically unpredictable in both quantity and quality. The uncertainty of access to a reliable water resource has necessitated that our residents be conservation-minded thus we have a long history of implementing practices that preserve, recycle, and reuse water.

Today, the Municipal District of Rocky View’s commitment to the principles of water conservation continues even as we - like our neighbours - experience unprecedented growth. In fact, inter-municipal water resource management is more important than ever as multiple regions across the province strive to balance burgeoning populations and economic opportunities with the social and environmental wellbeing of their residents.

Toward that end, the Municipal District of Rocky View is pleased that the Government of Alberta has adopted a collaborative approach toward watershed management through its “Water for Life” strategy. As the name of the strategy indicates, water is the lifeblood of healthy, productive, sustainable, and viable communities. Importantly, the Provincial plan provides the framework for inter-jurisdictional partnerships to pool knowledge and resources to develop and adopt effective, long-term water management strategies that will benefit all Albertans.

This is an approach that Rocky View strongly advocates as a member of the Kneehill Regional Water Services Commission (KRWSC). The KRWSC was created as a solution to regional water shortages while at the same time accommodating population growth and fostering sustainable economic development regionally. The success of this seven-member partnership resulted in the KRWSC winning a Partnership Award Honourable Mention in the 2005 Awards of Municipal Excellence.

The Municipal District of Rocky View is committed to building on that success through its current contribution to, and participation in, development of the Elbow River Watershed Management Plan and Bow River Basin Water Management Plan. As a stakeholder that spans both watersheds, Rocky View values the opportunity to provide input into the development and adoption of formal water management plans that will increase awareness and education about these areas and ensure their restoration, protection, and management.

The Municipal District of Rocky View is also a member of the Little Red Deer Watershed Initiative. The success of this multi-stakeholder partnership in protecting the watershed earned it a 2006 Emerald Award in the Community Group category.

The Nose Creek Watershed Partnership, of which Rocky View is a member, is nearing completion of a Water Management Plan for this important area. In partnership with the Town of Cochrane, we have also been working to develop the Jumping Pound, Big Hill and Horse Creek Watershed Management Plan. We are also actively collaborating with Alberta Environment and Ducks Unlimited Canada on a Wetland Inventory Project, which will ultimately lead to the adoption of a wetland policy for the entire municipality.

Further, the M.D. is actively involved with Western Irrigation District on addressing water management and quality issues. With the assistance of Alberta Environment, we are also currently undertaking a riparian videography project of rivers and creeks in the western portion of the M.D.

These efforts are furthered by our participation in inter-municipal development planning and membership in the Calgary Regional Partnership. These broader, cross-jurisdictional endeavours in turn compliment our municipal goals to focus growth in clearly defined areas that provide for proper land use and low impact development.

To achieve this, we are currently developing a long-term Growth Management Strategy, which will enhance our many Area Structure Plans that provide detailed analysis and policy development to guide future growth throughout the municipality. These plans were produced with significant community participation and recognize the equitable allocation of water and other natural resources in balancing residential, commercial, social, economic, and environmental considerations.

The complexities of watershed management require the ongoing exploration by jurisdictions throughout southern Alberta of new technologies and efficiencies that maximize water resources, ensuring we use less water per capita even as our populations and economies continue to grow. Our collective success will require innovative and environmentally sensitive approaches that use and reuse water as well as innovations to restore, expand, and enhance natural environments such as wetlands and previously or seasonally dry waterways. Managing storm water, trapping and utilizing rain water, incorporating grey water processes, and maximizing conservation practices in current and new developments are all essential to the cumulative saving of water resources.

A regional approach toward the preservation and management of this regional resource is essential to protect the environment and meet the needs of current and future generations across the province. Only by sharing responsibility for and sharing access to our water resources can we ensure that all Albertans benefit from the “Alberta Advantage.”

 
More Experts

David Pryce
Vice President, Western Canada Operations, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

Camille Dow Baker
President & CEO of the Centre for Affordable Water & Sanitation Technology (CAWST)

Robert D. Tarleck
Mayor, City of Lethbridge

Oliver M. Brandes
Water Sustainability Project at the POLIS Project on Ecological Governance

Dr. Mary Griffiths
Senior Policy Analyst, The Pembina Institute

C. Lacombe
Editor of Irrigating Alberta

Mark Bennett
Bow River Basin Council

Chris Godwaldt
Alberta WaterSMART

Kerry Brewin
Senior Biologist with Dillon Consulting Limited

Kent Robinson
Acting CAO MD of Rocky View

Maureen Bell
Water Conservation Trust of Canada

Podcasts

The Best of Blueprint Alberta: H20 - Episode 1

The Best of Blueprint Alberta: H20 - Episode 2

The Best of Blueprint Alberta: H20 - Episode 3

 
 

Between two and 4½ barrels of water are needed to produce one barrel of oil from the oilsands.

         
 
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