Lacombe Globe - May 16, 2013

Lacombe County has given itself an environmental report card and the results are encouraging.

“Overall, we are not in dire straits,” said Blayne West, environmental coordinator. “We are in quite good health but we do have a couple of areas with room for improvement.”

In an effort to assess the environmental impact we have on our county, officials conducted their State of the Environment Report.

“The State of the Environment Report is a scientific and community perceptions kind of report,” said West. “Basically, we did some literature reviews on all the science that exists pertinent to Lacombe County, topics such as water, land cover, habitat and waste. We then compiled it into one report so we can have a snapshot of what we currently look like environmentally...” Continue reading.

Lacombe Globe - May 16, 2013

The ford between the City of Lacombe and Ms. Brookes Wallace seems to have turned into a gorge.

Since February, Wallace has been trying to appeal a $1,000 water bill she claims is unwarranted. The problem is, that after testing her water meter, city officials believe that the 364,000 litres did pass through Wallace’s meter and contacted her to settle the bill.

“They told me that was it,” said Wallace. “We are over. We’re done. There’s nothing else to discuss and to come in to make payment arrangements.”

While they were satisfied with the results of the testing, city officials will not be reinstalling the same water meter due to what they believe is an under calculation... Click here to read more.

CBC - May 16, 2013

Some Calgary dentists say the decision two years ago to take fluoride out of the water supply is proving to be a big mistake. Dr. Sarah Hulland, the head of the Alberta Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, says she has seen a deterioration of young patients’ teeth over the last two years.

"We actually have seen an increase in the severity of cavities we do see, and we see an increase in the rate that the cavities actually go from a small spot to a large, painful cavity in the tooth,” she said.

The move to take fluoride out of Calgary's water is playing a key role, Hulland said.

"It’s an entirely preventable disease and yet 30 per cent of children five years and under the age of five have rampant decay in their mouths,” she said... Click here to read more.

CBC Calgary - May 15, 2013

Dry, windy conditions are becoming costly for some southern Alberta cattle farmers. By this time of year seeds should be germinating and cattle should be out grazing.

Instead, Roy Newman, who grows canola and raises cattle in the Blackie area, southeast of Calgary, has had to dip into hay reserves.

"Right now we're still feeding our cattle like it's the middle of winter, because there's not enough grass to send them to pasture,” he said. “So, it's going into our hay reserves which we have for emergencies and it is dwindling fast." Newman said farmers in the area need rain soon so that seeds can germinate... Click here to read more. 

The Globe & Mail - May 10, 2013

One of Canada’s largest oil-sands producers is building an algae-based processor at its Primrose South project in order to recycle greenhouse-gas emissions to produce biofuels and other products such as fertilizer for land reclamation.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) is working with the National Research Council and Toronto-based Pond Biofuels Inc. on a $19-million pilot project aimed at proving the commercial viability of using industrial flue gases from its processing plant to feed algae in a “biorefinery” unit. Pond has already built two small demonstration models in Ontario at St. Mary’s Cement and a U.S. Steel Canada plant.

The federal government will contribute $9.5-million to the project, while CNRL will add $6.3-million and Pond will pony up $3.2-million...click here to read more. 

Edmonton Journal - May 10, 2013

Sherwood Park is making plans to double in size, Edmonton has launched a new annexation bid to the south, and Sturgeon County is proposing a new urban area around the city of St. Albert.

Population projections for the capital region continue to climb, and it seems each municipality is busy laying plans to make sure it has room to catch as much of that growth as possible, to attract both homeowners and those coveted industrial tax dollars.

Last June, the Alberta Treasury Board predicted the capital region population would grow to between 1.8 million and 2.3 million people over the next 40 years. Even the lower figure was higher than estimates the Capital Region Board worked with when it wrote its growth plan in 2009... Click here to read more. 

The Globe & Mail - May 9, 2013

A world-renowned freshwater research facility that was shuttered by the federal government in April is reopening for experimentation this summer and there are strong indications a deal can be reached to keep it operating in the long term.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced on Thursday that it has reached an agreement with a Winnipeg-based research institute to allow work at the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) to continue uninterrupted as the two sides negotiate the transfer of the facility in Northwestern Ontario.

The news was greeted with relief by scientists who feared their multiyear studies would be stopped before completion. And they took the announcement as proof the federal Conservative government is making serious headway in its efforts to turn the research station over to the International Institute for Sustainable Development

...

Cold Lake Sun - May 6, 2013

The annual freeze-up and break-up of ice in Cold Lake has long been a source of interest for Brian Samuel and Garth Petterson.

Samuel and Petterson, who live on Cold Lake and took over monitoring those occurrences from Eugene Martin, have more than a half-century of data about these occurrences. 

“I come up with the dates” and Petterson does the graph, said Samuel, adding the pair do it for fun.

Over the past 53 years, the latest break-up occurred on May 29, 1979, while the earliest one was on April 26, 1998. The earliest freeze-up was on Nov. 30 (in 1985 and 1996) while the latest occurred Jan. 15, 2012... Click here to read more. 

The Environment and Water Ministry and the Sustainable Resource Development Ministry were combined into one ministry, a year ago today. On the AESRD’s blog Minister McQueen highlights the achievements of the department in the following areas: integrated resource managment, environmental monitoring, single regulator, land-use planning, water, climate change and forestry. Click here to read her blog post.

Calgary Herald - May 3, 2013

Three dozen landowner, labour, aboriginal and environmental groups are demanding that the man hired to head Alberta's new energy regulator resign before he even starts.

A letter signed by such organizations as the Treaty 8 First Nations, the Alberta Federation of Labour and the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment says industry insider Gerry Protti is not the appropriate choice.

"I've seen biased appointments before, but this one tops the list," said Don Bester of the Alberta Surface Rights Group, which represents landowners...Click here to read more. 

Mountain View Gazette - April 16th

Eighty-five people attended an open house at the Eagle Hill Community Centre on April 8 for the release of the Sundre Petroleum Operator’s Group’s new beneficial management practices for hydraulic fracturing.

Prepared over the past year with input from industry and community members, the management practices document has been developed to bridge the gap between government regulations and public expectations, said SPOG executive director Tracey McCrimmon.

“We are trying to find out what we can do to go above and beyond,” said McCrimmon. “We hope that we’ve addressed the concerns raised in our community and acknowledge that there are issues that continue to exist outside of SPOG’s boundary but we remain committed and focused on addressing the needs and concerns of our stakeholders.” ... Click here to read more.

Calgary Herald - May 2, 2013

As 2,600 volunteers gather along Calgary rivers and in parks this weekend for the 46th Annual Pathway and River Clean Up, the city is looking to reinvent the initiative in such a way that within 10 years it may no longer be needed.

Last year, volunteers collected more than 5,700 kilograms of waste, a significant increase from the previous year’s totals... Click here to read more.

 

 

Calgary Herald - May 3, 2013

A giant centipede striding across the Alberta prairie is a monument – of sorts – to Eugene Whelan, the former federal agriculture minister who died Feb. 19, 2013 at age 88.

It looks like a giant centipede, but it’s the Brooks Aqueduct, a rather unusual tourist attraction left behind by a much earlier prairie drought.

When it opened for business in 1910, the aqueduct was the world's longest elevated concrete structure. Construction engineers from Canadian Pacific Railway built the three-km aqueduct to carry water across a valley that interrupted one of its long earthen irrigation canals...Click here to read more.

Edmonton Journal - May 1, 2013

If hundreds of ducks die on a tailings pond or a pipeline bursts, Alberta Environment won’t be investigating or be involved in any charges against oil companies.

Those powers — to investigate spills and infractions, and apply penalties — move to an arm’s-length agency, the new Alberta Energy Regulator, a body run by cabinet appointees reporting to the minister of energy and mostly paid for by the industry.

The AER is expected to be operating by June.

Energy Minister Ken Hughes said he’s confident the new AER will take on its new role as environmental enforcer role with vigour. To assist in that, the government recently increased fines for polluters up to $500,000, he said. ... Click here to read more.

Edmonton Journal - April 30th

Life in downtown Edmonton could be beachy after councillors enthusiastically endorsed the concept of a sandy play area beside the river in Louise McKinney Park.

The 420-square-metre “urban beach” near Grierson Hill Road would be aimed at lounging rather than swimming because officials can’t control the safety or quality of the North Saskatchewan River, Lyall Brenneis, manager of the community strategies and development branch, said Tuesday.

“It’s really about a sand experience, a sunbather experience, not a water experience.” ... Click here to read more.

Edmonton Journal - April 30th

Alberta’s lead agency for energy and environmental research is spending $10 million to support 18 water projects, including one that deals with oilsands process water.

“These projects will provide the crucial information we need to support an actionable strategy for safe, secure and sustainable water for Albertans,” said Eddy Isaacs, chief executive of Alberta Innovates — Energy and Environment Solutions.

The 18 research projects range from work on developing a monitoring scheme to detect arsenic in well water to validating reclamation targets for wetland habitats. ... Click here to read more.

Calgary Herald - April 29th

Building a diamond mine, expanding an oilsands mine, offshore exploration or an interprovincial bridge could soon require a federal environmental review under proposed additions and subtractions to the Harper government's new environmental rules.

But provincially regulated pipelines, facilities used to process the heavy oil from the oilsands, pulp and paper mills as well as chemical explosive plants are among those being deleted from a list of projects requiring federal environmental investigations prior to approval.

...

The latest proposed changes, now subject to a 30-day consultation period that began on April 20, would also delete groundwater extraction facilities, provincially regulated electrical transmission lines, a wide range of mining projects, as well as steel mills, metal smelters and pharmaceutical plants. ... Click here to read more.

CBC News - April 26th

The company that owns a pipeline that leaked 28,000 barrels of crude oil near the a First Nations community in northwest Alberta — the largest spill in the province in 35 years — is now facing environmental charges.

Plains Midstream Canada ULC is facing three counts under the province's Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act:

The April 2011 spill of almost 4.5 million litres of oil contaminated eight acres of beaver ponds and muskeg in a densely forested area. ... Click here to read more.

Edmonton Journal - April 26th

Environmental groups want the federal government to get involved in the investigation into the Suncor leak of industrial waste water into the Athabasca River and consider laying charges if warranted.

Provincial tests done earlier this month showed toxic substances were found in waste water that flowed into the river, and that should trigger federal involvement under the Fisheries Act, said Melissa Gorrie of Ecojustice, speaking on behalf of five groups including Greenpeace, the Athabasca River Keepers and Public Interest Alberta.

“The provincial waters analysis shows there were deleterious substances flowing into the river, and that violates the federal fisheries act,” said Gorrie, who sent a letter to the deputy minister of environment and the director of public prosecutions. ... Click here to read more.

St Albert Gazette - April 24th

County council wants to see if Alexander First Nation can keep paying its water bills before it waives about $40,000 in late penalties assessed to the band.

Council voted 5-0 in favour of waiving some $41,071.42 in late penalties on Alexander provided it continues to pay its water bills on time for the next six months. Councillors Karen Shaw and Ken McGillis were absent.

Alexander gets 80 per cent of its water from Epcor through Sturgeon County, reads a report to council, with the remaining 20 per cent coming from private wells. The band’s water bill works out to about $10,000 a month. ... Click here to read more.

CBC News Edmonton - April 22nd

Environmental monitoring data from Alberta's oilsands region is now accessible online at a web portal launched Monday by the federal and Alberta governments.

"Today, as the world celebrates Earth Day and showcases commitments to protecting the environment, Canada is contributing and doing our part, by delivering on our collective promise to ensure that scientific data from the monitoring activity is transparent and accessible," federal Environment Minister Peter Kent said in announcing the launch of the Canada-Alberta Environmental Monitoring Information Portal.

"With this portal, our respective governments are actively encouraging informed discussions and analysis on the impacts of oilsands development." ... Click here to read more.

Edmonton Journal - April 12th

The province on Friday released the results of water tests conducted after water leaked last month from Suncor’s oilsands facility into Alberta’s Athabasca River.

The test results show the undiluted waste water contained arsenic, ammonia, chloride and a host of other chemicals at levels above those deemed acceptable in Alberta’s Surface Water Guidelines.

However, the waste water was mixed with treated water before it was released into the river on March 25, and it is not yet clear how much, if any, chemicals were released. ... Click here to read more.

Edmonton Journal - April 11th

Environment Canada wants oil and gas companies to come clean about the unidentified fluids they inject deep underground to extract natural gas.

In newly released correspondence obtained by Postmedia News, the department’s top official told the main Canadian oil and gas lobby group that the government needed more information about the industrial process, commonly known as fracking: fracturing shale rock formations underground with fluids to extract the gas.

Paul Boothe, the former deputy minister, wrote that a new industry voluntary disclosure program was a “positive step” toward improving environmental performance, increasing transparency and the “use of fluids with the least environmental risk.”

But his letter to Dave Collyer, president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, also suggested the environment department, which has authority to

...

Calgary Herald - April 11th

A pond closed due to an oil spill into the Red Deer River has reopened for fishing this spring, but restrictions remain for the rest of the affected area.

Last June, a Plains Midstream Canada pipeline leaked up to 480,000 litres of sour crude oil into the central Alberta river.

The Dickson Trout Pond, which had fishing conditions placed on it after the leak, was given the all-clear earlier this month by Alberta Health Services.

“There is no risk for human consumption of the stocked trout in the pond,” said an emailed statement from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. ... Click here to read more.

Edmonton Journal - April 10th

The Alberta government has ordered the former director of two Red Deer-area businesses to clean up the soil and groundwater after the new owner of the property discovered storage tanks and barrels that were leaking toxic chemicals.

In October 2008, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development launched an investigation that revealed contamination had occurred at the industrial site from a variety of chemicals that included benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene and petroleum hydrocarbons.

The contaminants are consistent with products and substances that were used and stored at the site by companies formerly operated by Jerry McInnis while distributing chemicals to the oil and gas industry, an Environmental Protection Order issued on March 25 says. ... Click here to read more.