Southern Alberta’s Water Security at Stake in New Land-Use Plan

Report says clear landscape targets are 'key' to securing water protection in southern Alberta

Calgary — As a series of public meetings kick off today in Calgary and Vulcan addressing land-use in Southern Alberta, many Albertans may be surprised to learn that water security is at stake in the planning process. That's the overarching theme of Source of Opportunity: A Blueprint for Securing Source Water in Southern Alberta, a report released today investigating the potential of South Saskatchewan Regional land use plan to protect water.

"While sessions are called 'Your Land, Your Plan, Your Future' few Albertans realize how strongly this plan will affect the quality and quantity of our water supply," says the report's author Joe Obad, Associate Director for Water Matters. Source of Opportunity will help citizens understand the connection between land-use and water in southern Alberta. It details how the explosive growth of land use in southern Alberta affects water quality and quantity.

"Historically, we've operated as though land-use and water are completely separate concerns," says Obad. "We've watched how unsustainable land use degrades the quality and quantity of water. It's time to get serious because it's extremely difficult and expensive to turn back the clock."

"New legislation, the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, gives regional land-use plans like the one in southern Alberta a chance to protect watersheds in a way we never have before," Obad says. "For the first time, the government can set targets to minimize land use impacts on source water — targets all land users would have to respect."

The Terms of Reference for the South Saskatchewan, released on Thursday, November 26th, specifically address "source water protection and other management means to protect watershed integrity."

"If you care about water in Southern Alberta it's critical to make your views known at these input sessions," says Obad. "The government needs to know Albertans support protecting source water landscapes as challenging decisions need to be made in the planning process."

Water Matters submitted Source of Opportunity to the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan's Regional Advisory Committee (RAC), the 18 individuals tasked with consulting Albertans and providing recommendations to government on the future plan for the region.

Digital Copies of Source of Opportunity are available for download from the Water Matters website.

Interview Opportunities

For interviews or more information about Source of Opportunity, contact Joe Obad at 403-585-5826.