Calgary

Water fight simmering over selling Fortress water for commercial use

Fortress Mountain Resort is looking to change its water licence to allow it to sell a portion for commercial use but a conservation group is dead set against it.

Alberta ski resort wants to sell 50 million litres

Fortress Mountain Resort ​​​​​​is currently allowed more than 98 million litres of water from a Galatea Creek tributary for drinking and food preparation. (Paul Karchut/CBC)

Fortress Mountain Resort is looking to change its water licence to allow it to sell a portion for commercial use but a conservation group is dead set against it.

The resort —​ which is about 100 kilometres west of Calgary —​ ​​​​​​is allowed more than 98 million litres of water from a Galatea Creek tributary for drinking and food preparation.

The owners have asked the province to amend that licence so that roughly half of it could be sold for commercial use.

The majority owner and managing director says there has been lots of misinformation swirling about the situation.

"We're looking to sell the water. What the buyer wants to do with us, it could be, God only knows, it could be bottled water, but we won't have anything to do with it. Think of us like an oil well. We are not a gas station," Thomas Heath told CBC News.

Heath says that if the application is successful, the company buying the water would be responsible for hauling it.

Carolyn Campbell is a conservationist with the Alberta Wilderness Association who strongly opposes the application because she worries about the effects on the Bow River.

"Given that the Bow River system is already over-allocated, we need to be as careful as possible about our water and energy use," Campbell said.

"We owe that to future generations."

She wants Fortress to withdraw its application.

The ski resort's lease was revoked in 2007 after struggling for years with finances, safety issues and closures. Its current owners, a group of investors, have slowly increased activity on the hill with cat skiing and movie productions.

The owners hope to have lifts running by December 2020.

Albertans have until Aug. 9 to provide feedback to Environment and Parks by regular mail or email to aep.minister@gov.ab.ca

Listen to a conversation with the Rocky Mountain Outlook, the local newspaper that broke the story:

A ski resort in K-Country wants to be able to sell its water for profit. We find out what some residents think of the idea. 7:24

With files from Colleen Underwood and Lucie Edwardson

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