WHEREAS the provincial government, through the Minister of Environment, has initiated a process to determine a strategy for managing Albertas water in the future; AND WHEREAS this strategy, entitled Water for Life: Albertas Strategy for Sustainability, depends upon the results and findings from a number of subsidiary projects, one of which is entitled the South Saskatchewan River Basin Water Management Plan (SSRBWMP);AND WHEREAS the initial phase of the SSRBWMP project focuses on water in the eastern sector of the province, excluding, at this time, the headwaters of many of the primary water-sources in the province that feed the South Saskatchewan River basin;AND WHEREAS the provincial government recognizes that our quality of life and life itself depend on having a healthy and sustainable water supply for the environment, for our communities and for our economic well-being;AND WHEREAS these factors cannot be examined without including a thorough and considerate examination of the full water system in our province, from source to departure at the provinces boundaries;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the provincial government, in particular, the Minister of Environment, be requested to ensure the upper reaches, headwaters and source areas of the South Saskatchewan River are included in the South Saskatchewan River Basin Water Management Plan project, with special focus to be given to the problems of declining volumes of water, increasing levels of pollution, and other forms of water degradation in the upland areas of the watersheds. Attention should be given to emerging implications for agriculture, industry and downstream communities, which are reliant on the availability of a safe and abundant water supply; additionally, there is an existing and rapidly growing eco-tourism and recreation industry that relies upon water availability.
The provincial government has been examining the issue of devising a strategy on how to approach water management in Alberta, and the Minister of Environment has set up the Water for Life: Albertas Strategy for Sustainability process, to consult with the public and stake-holders, generate ideas, identify challenges, and come up with a series of recommendations for action that will lead to a provincial strategy. One of the projects that is contributing data and valuable information to the Water for Life process is the South Saskatchewan River Basin Water Management Plan project. The Bow River Basin Council and other stakeholders are disappointed that the headwaters/sources are not included in the present process and they are eager to see the headwaters/sources incorporated into the planning process at the earliest opportunity. For example, the upper reaches of the Bow River are not currently being considered. At present, only the Bow below the confluences with the Elbow River in Calgary is considered thus significantly restricting the consideration of a major waterway until it has partially traversed a major urban area of close to one million people. In order to be an integral part of an effective strategy, the SSRBWMP process must include the headwaters, source and upper reaches of the tributaries to the major waterway. In fact, truly effective planning is reliant on the adoption of an entire watershed approach. The aforementioned Water Strategy is founded on this principle. It is also noted that the proposed resolution is in keeping with the AAMD&C response, in May 2002, to the initial public consultations on the provincial Water for Life strategy. The AAMD&Cs response called for the provincial government to (amongst other things) develop baseline data on water quality and supplies. The AAMD&Cs policy on water, as expressed in the May 2003 Backgrounder on Water Issues, also addresses concerns with respect to potential contamination of water sources and the need for careful monitoring, enhanced enforcement activities, and investigation of new technologies.