The Bog

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.

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:

  • Provide feedback through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by April 19th, and
  • 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.

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.

History And Governance As A Blueprint For Future Federal-Provincial Co-operation On Environmental Monitoring In The Alberta Oil Sands Region

Overview

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).

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.

What Are You Willing To Pay For Your Water?


The book "The Big Thirst" discusses how we have been in a golden age of water, a period of free and accessible water while the earth's climate has been warming. Water has been so inexpensive, readily accessible and reliable that to society it has become invisible. This is not to say that we do not appreciate, or misunderstand its importance, it is just that it has become so available that we do not even consider the implications of usage and waste, when we do use it.

The result is that society has created a false economy for water. For sure, there have been some economic accounting for water, often with a fee charged to households and industry. But this only reflects the cost of delivery and purifying the water (not any cost for the raw water itself). The result is a standard economic reference point or price for water that is not sustainable.

This form of socio-economic thinking cannot last. Water is a life critical commodity and a life sustaining fuel. Our water problems relating to shortages, accessibility, purity and availability are imminent, and need to be addressed as part of our social balance.

The issue is, how can we change a consumptive behaviour that is so ingrained in our culture? Historically with all other valuable commodities, society has placed a value or a price on that commodity. The concept could easily be extend to water by charging the population for their water usage, and thus creating an awareness and sensitivity about how everyone's actions affect water usage.