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
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.”