WHEREAS the headwaters of the South Saskatchewan River Basin found within the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains are the source of water for a significant number of Alberta and Saskatchewan industries and residents; and
WHEREAS water is a limited resource that all Albertans rely on and requires careful management; and
WHEREAS downstream users, both rural and urban, depend on an ample supply of high-quality water to sustain their communities and livelihoods; and
WHEREAS specific water allocation commitments have been made to agriculture producers, residential users, municipalities and industry; and
WHEREAS in the past, the process for the allocation of water has been implemented in an orderly manner with opportunity for meaningful input from Albertans; and
WHEREAS some industrial uses consume large quantities of water and are unable to restore the quality of that water before it is returned to the system; and
WHEREAS the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan 2014-2024 cites the creation of the South Saskatchewan Region Surface Water Quality Management Framework as a proactive and dynamic management approach that assures water quality and a collaborative approach to water quality management; and
WHEREAS the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan 2014-2024 states that “collaboration and shared stewardship will be essential to achieving responsible management [of the Headwaters].”; and
WHEREAS the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan 2014-2024 clearly states under “Section 4: Water” that “shared stewardship is essential. The Province will continue to work with municipalities and other stakeholders to…encourage protection of water resources and responsible development.”;
WHEREAS collaboration and stewardship is crucial to responsibly allocating water from rivers throughout the province;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request the Government of Alberta to take proactive measures to ensure that the headwaters that supply Alberta’s water basins are managed to maintain water recharge capabilities, to sustain high water quality and to provide access to sufficient water supplies for all Albertans.
The Government of Alberta has historically relied on an open and transparent consultation process when dealing with events that could have huge impacts on water quality and access to water by Albertans. Recently the Government of Alberta has arbitrarily circumvented normal public consultation processes in favour of the development of a single industry at the expense of other industries, the aquatic environment and the citizens of Alberta. By doing so, the quality and access to water quantities could be put at serious risk.
In addition, the Government of Alberta has initiated actions to dismantle water allocation orders duly put in place to ensure that Albertans have a fair access to water to serve agriculture producers, residential users, municipalities and industry.
Furthermore, this issue was in part brought to the attention of the Government of Alberta in 2003 by RMA Resolution ER3-03F. The then-Minister of Environment was urged to ensure that the upper reaches, headwaters and source areas of the South Saskatchewan River were included in the South Saskatchewan River Basin Water Management Project with special focus being given to many of the issues raised in this proposed resolution, including broad public consultation.
19-19F: Water Security in Southern Alberta
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate that the Government of Alberta address water security issues in southern Alberta by constructing additional water storage in southern Alberta for the purpose of buffering flood events and to retain water during periods of shortage.
Click here to view the full resolution.
Thank you for your letter following up on the Rural Municipalities of Alberta’s Resolution
5-21S: Preservation of Water Quality and Access to Water by Albertans.
As I mentioned in my April 25, 2023, letter regarding Resolution 7-23S: Revision of the
Alberta Land Stewardship Act to provide for an Expiration Date in Conservation
Easement Agreements, the provincial election is swiftly approaching. As such, I will
unfortunately not be able to send you a comprehensive reply by the deadline requested,
May 29, 2023. The department will work to send you a full response as soon as feasible
after the next cabinet is sworn in.
RMA appreciates the Alberta Environment and Protected Areas response explaining that no comprehensive reply will be given by May 29, 2023 due to the upcoming election. As RMA has not yet received a detailed response regarding this resolution, it is assigned a status of Incomplete Information, and will be re-visited when a government response is received.