The Bog is where thoughts, opinions, discussion pieces, and action converge. Influential thinkers from the water community are invited to share their insights on current or controversial water topics. Please note that the views expressed herein are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Alberta WaterPortal.
Andy Ridge: Our Water. Our Future. A Conversation with Albertans.
Albertans are passionate about water. From majestic mountain waterfalls to astonishing coulees, Alberta’s diverse landscapes inspire and draw tourists from all over the globe. Citizens, communities, businesses, and the agricultural and energy sectors have been engaged in a discussion about water for over a hundred years. We take water seriously in Alberta and many consider it to be our most important resource. Alberta has a bright economic future and is a great place to live for the more than 3.7 million people that call it home. This is due in no small part to the stewardship and wise management of our water resources.
Alberta has a rich history of water management and water stewardship. In 1931, Alberta passed the Water Resources Act, which declared water to be the property of the province and granted abilities to use the water through a licence. In 1999, Alberta passed the Water Act which includes a Framework for Water Management Planning and a Strategy for the Protection of the Aquatic Environment where the Government of Alberta affirms its commitment to not only maintaining and restoring the natural environment, but enhancing it.
This year, Alberta celebrates the 10 year anniversary of the Water for Life strategy. Noteworthy achievements of Water for Life include the establishment of eleven Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils across Alberta where committed members conduct education and stewardship activities throughout their watersheds and partake in the development of basin water assessment and planning. In addition, under the strategy, all major water using sectors in Alberta have prepared conservation, efficiency and productivity plans that outline actions each sector will take to reduce demand for and conserve water.
Participate in the Alberta Water Conversation
Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (AESRD) has been running a consultation process with the public (that means you!) on the use of water in Alberta.
AESRD has identified four main topics of interest based on input they have received from various stakeholders leading up the conversation.
Those topics are:
- Healthy lakes;
- Hydraulic Fracturing and Water;
- Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems; and
- Water Management.
A conversation guide (5.8 MB) has been put together by AESRD, summarizing their thoughts on these topics; with an ask for your input on where to go next.
Most of the ways to participate have been wrapped up. However you still can participate by:
- Follow and participate in the discussion on AESRD’s blog and Twitter.
Regardless of the feedback you may have, we at the WaterPortal highly recommend that you make your thoughts heard through any one, or more, of the channels listed above.
Stay tuned to our news section for updates on what is happening with water in the province.
Guest Columnist: Nashaat N. Nassar
Nanotechnology could help in reducing the environmental footprints of Alberta oilsands industry
Nanoscrubbers for air emission capture, nanoadsorbents for adsorptive removal of waste and hydrocarbons, and nanocatalysts for catalytic steam gasification of asphaltenes and naphthenic acid for improving oil quality and water recyclability.
The oilsands recovery and upgrading with the current processes are more water and energy intensive; as a result more pollution is created, such as heavier residue, wastewater, solids waste, and air emissions. This has resulted in opportunities for development of new technologies that improve heavy oil recovery, minimize the use of energy and water-based processes and reduce the air emissions with lower cost services. Nanotechnology, which is relatively a new area of science, presents new opportunities for reducing the environmental footprints of oilsands industry. The name nano comes from the size of molecules which is measured in nanometers or one billionth of a meter (1 10-9 meter). Nanoparticles are one of the important examples on nanotechnology applications. Due to their unique properties, nanoparticles can be used to sustain oilsands industry through the development of greener processes with cost-effective approach.
Guest Columnist: Ron Wallace
History And Governance As A Blueprint For Future Federal-Provincial Co-operation On Environmental Monitoring In The Alberta Oil Sands Region
The environmental impacts associated with existing and proposed developments in the Alberta oil sands development region have received unprecedented national, and international, attention. The oil sands represent a strategic resource of importance to Alberta, Canada and indeed to the international energy trading community. The present and future potential magnitude of developments required to extract, upgrade and transport the oil have, for better or worse, vaulted the oil sands region into the realms of international economic, social, environmental and political attention. Accordingly, both the federal and provincial governments have increasingly focussed their attention to creating or expanding environmental monitoring and research programs in the oil sands region of Alberta.
At a time when new approaches to scientific monitoring programs are being reviewed, it may be useful to recall that there is an extensive, and successful, history of scientific and policy co-ordination between Alberta and Canada in regard to oil sands environmental assessment and management programs in the province. Past Federal-Provincial agreements have recognized the overlapping jurisdictional responsibilities and governments responsibly have sought to achieve management and financial efficiencies to harmonize, if not resolve, these overlaps.
Here, past management models and agreements are reviewed, with particular attention paid to the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program (AOSERP) (1975 to 1980) and the Northern River Basins Study Board (NRBS) (1991 -1996).
Guest Columnist: Bob Sandford
No Mere Budget Cut
Let us be clear. Unless you believe that contracting a flesh-eating disease is a reasonable way to lose weight, it is difficult to interpret what is presently happening to Environment Canada as a mere budget cut. To accept what we have seen happen to this crucial federal government department as mere fiscal belt-tightening is to fall for a public relations cover-up. Canada’s most important environmental institution is not being trimmed. It is not just going through temporary hard times. It is being hollowed out, gutted, dismembered alive. It is being destroyed.
What is happening to Environment Canada should be of great concern to water managers throughout Canada. Because of warming mean temperatures, the hydrology of every region of the country is on the move. The agency responsible for monitoring these changes on a national scale is being utterly incapacitated.
We are about to lose the baseline against which we measure the meaning of such changes in terms of their effect on our economy and our environment. The water management community in this country would do well not to underestimate the relevance of Environment Canada monitoring and research. Despite huge cuts to the department in the 1990s, Environment Canada researchers still managed to produce two of the most influential assessments of the threats to our country’s water quality and availability to appear to date in this young century. These reports remain the foundation of water management planning throughout Canada. Environment Canada’s capacity to serve this country in this and other ways in the future, however, is now is doubt.