Busting the myths and concerns about what’s in our water: Alberta organizations team-up to improve public information on water quality in the Bow River Basin
CALGARY, ALBERTA, Jan. 19, 2018 – How concerned should I really be about the fluoride in my drinking water? Why is water quality such an issue in many Indigenous communities? Do I need to worry about lead in my pipes? What is the level of harmful chemicals in my local river and is it safe to swim and fish? These, among others, are questions the public grapples with when thinking about the water they drink and enjoy, and which supports Alberta’s aquatic ecosystems.
In its 2017 Canadian Water Attitudes Survey, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) reported that 60% of Albertans feel concerned about the quality of water in lakes, rivers and streams, and 62% are concerned about the long-term quality of drinking water. These concerns are real, with the World Wildlife Fund ranking Alberta’s watersheds among the least healthy in the country due in part of water quality issues. Paradoxically, the RBC survey shows that peoples’ level of interest in water issues is decreasing over time. Clearly, more is needed to sustain interest and action on this topic. While municipalities go the extra mile to improve wastewater and stormwater treatment, these systems will only work if the public is engaged to make the right decisions at home and focus on the water quality issues that really matter in their local watershed.
The Alberta WaterPortal Society (WaterPortal) has teamed-up with the Bow River Basin Council, the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technologies, the Western Irrigation District, Calgary Foundation, Trout Unlimited, the Royal Bank, and local businesses to help Albertans understand and respond to water quality issues. From January 25th to February 8th, the WaterPortal will be hosting free exhibits across the Bow River Basin; events will be held in Calgary (Jan 25, 2018), Canmore (Feb 1, 2018) and Strathmore (Feb 8, 2018) to bring information to communities about water quality and what can be done to improve it. Registration is free at https://yourwater-2018.eventbrite.ca; the exhibits will feature interactive activities and information for all ages. The exhibits are backstopped by plain-language and peer-reviewed web portal content on water quality in Alberta that will launch on January 22nd, 2018 at http://albertawater.com.
The WaterPortal’s Executive Director and a leading water management expert in Canada, Dr. Kim Sturgess, has called this initiative “One of the WaterPortal’s most comprehensive initiatives to help Albertans understand and act to make our watersheds the healthiest they can be. If Alberta wants to prosper and be competitive in our new economic reality, we need renewed focus on our most valuable resource – water. Improving water quality can be the foundation for new economic opportunities, improving our communities and protecting our ecosystems. But if we want those opportunities realised, we need a public that understands and values water.”
About the Alberta Water Portal Society: Founded in 2006, in the spirit of the Water for Life strategy, the Alberta WaterPortal provides inclusive research, community engagement, and educational activities to improve the public’s understanding of the importance of water in Alberta, as well as providing Albertans with the knowledge needed to make better water management decisions.
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For more information please contact:
Brie Nelson, Project Coordinator
Alberta WaterPortal Society
#200, 3512 – 33 Street NW
Calgary Alberta T2L 2A6
Direct office line: 403-210-5274