Can Alberta Avoid Drought? – Epoch Times Follow Up

Does Albert Face Drought in the Near Future?

Access to clean, safe fresh water is shaping up to be the dominant environmental issue of the 21st century. Fresh water supplies are dwindling around the world, putting millions of people at risk of severe drought and the health, environmental and economical devastation that goes with it.

Canada is not immune to the crisis.

A recent article in “The Epoch Times” called attention to the very real possibility of Alberta facing a serious drought in the near future. The warning comes from Water Matters, a Canmore-based water protection group. Key to turning the tide on this prediction is an increased focus on efficient water management that takes into account the many competing interests for scarce water resources and protect against the threat of drought.

At Western Canada Water, we firmly believe efficient water management can help balance the needs of development, agriculture and the environment and bring Alberta back from the brink of drought.

One reason Alberta has gotten itself into this situation, according to the article is the Province’s past practice of granting water rights. Alberta has a “first in time, first in right” model granting water licenses on a first come, first served basis. Under this model, large municipalities and large companies have secured a large amount of water rights leaving less for newer applicants, the environment and First Nations’ rights.

The license model has also meant development has driven water rights and usage in the past rather than having water supply and availability dictate water rights which is a model that protects against drought. As the article notes, this model doesn’t serve the public interest.

There does seem to be some movement toward a more equitable distribution of water rights that puts an emphasis on need rather than markets. The Environment Minister Diana McQueen announced a series of public consultations focused on water market issues, healthy lakes, the practice of hydraulic fracturing for oil production, and municipal issues including waste water.

These efforts to approach water rights in a more balanced manner fit with Western Canada Water’s vision to foster a cooperative environment where stewardship, regulatory, engineering, construction and operations professionals collectively work together to provide safe water for human consumption and environmental protection thus protecting future generations from drought.

Water professionals can and should have a say in this process, especially those committed to the WCW mission of providing safe drinking water and protecting the environment. Together, we can contribute to these discussions by providing  our valued expertise to effect positive change on this pressing issue.