St Albert Leader - November 28th

People won’t need to travel far to explore Canada’s national parks or visit the nation’s historical sites.

With a click of a mouse or smartphone, Canada’s wonders can be experienced through virtual reality.

Google Maps and Parks Canada have teamed up to bring people closer to Canada’s national parks and historic sites through Google Street View. ... Click here to continue reading.

Calgary Herald - November 29th

The June flood was not the deluge of the century and could happen again in our lifetime, says the Canada research chair in water resource and climate change.

During a talk in Canmore this week, hydrologist John Pomeroy said he and his University of Saskatchewan colleagues went back further than available data from the Water of Survey of Canada and studied floods dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s through older Geological Survey of Canada records.

“The flood of 2013 was big and, for many people, utterly devastating, but it was not extraordinary,” he told those gathered for the presentation. “It was not the flood of the century and, unfortunately, probably not even the flood of a lifetime.” ... Click here to continue reading.

Nature.com - November 25th

For Canada's fish, today marks a big departure from the status quo. Scores of freshwater species lose their protection under the country’s Fisheries Act as controversial changes made in 2012 take effect.

The law, enacted in 1868, is one of the country's oldest pieces of environmental legislation. It has long provided blanket protection for all fish and their habitat. The revised legislation now restricts protections to fish that are part of a commercial, recreational or aboriginal fishery, and only against “serious harm”. It also does away with a prohibition on "harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat".

As a result, 80% of Canada's 71 freshwater fish species currently at risk of extinction will lose the protection previously afforded to them under the Fisheries Act, according to an analysis published this month in the journal Fisheries.... ...

Medicine Hat News - November 27th

It’s a piece of land-use legislation — breath-taking in scope — with few rivals within the province, country or worldwide in its attempt to balance economic, social and environmental needs of Alberta.

On Tuesday the tour of the daft plan for the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan made its way to Medicine Hat to give local stakeholders a chance to review the comprehensive document and provide input.

The land-use plan encompasses areas south of the Red Deer River to the U.S. border and bookended by the two neighbouring provinces. ... Click here to continue reading.

Calgary Herald - November 27th

Automated outfall gates will be working by this weekend to help prevent flooding in Sunnyside, similar to the problem caused by rising rain waters last summer, days after the June flood had already devastated much of the community.

“These are for rain events that occur upstream, and in July the gates were closed and the water backed up. It’s happened twice in the past 10 years,” said Coun. Druh Farrell.

“We promised residents we would do this, and this will help alleviate flooding from storm events and allow the water to travel into the river.” ... Click here to continue reading.

Western Wheel - November 27th

Okotoks town council is looking to Calgary as the source of the town’s long-term water supply.

On Monday evening, council voted 4-3 in favour of a motion by Coun. Matt Rockley supporting a water pipeline from Calgary to supply water for future growth and development in Okotoks. Councillors Rockley, Carrie Fischer, Tanya Thorn and Ray Watrin supported the move, while Mayor Bill Robertson and councillors Ed Sands and Ken Heemeryck voted against it.

Rockley told council a pipeline from the Bow River in Calgary is the most viable and economical solution. He said the communities of Airdrie, Strathmore and Chestermere already access their water from the city and are happy with their agreements. ... Click here to continue reading.

CBC News - November 25th

Environment Canada has given AquaBounty Technologies the go-ahead to produce genetically-modified salmon eggs on a commercial scale at its P.E.I. facility, the company has announced.

AquaBounty's hatchery in eastern P.E.I. has been a research-only production site, but now the company is saying the facility in Bay Fortune has the go-ahead from Environment Canada to produce the fish eggs on a commercial scale. ... Click here to continue reading.

Rocky View Weekly - November 25th

On Nov. 21, Premier Redford announced that consultation and environmental reviews are set to begin on a dry dam project west of Bragg Creek.

“We announced that the government is moving forward with the dry dam project somewhere west of Bragg Creek on the Elbow River,” said Kyle Fawcett, Associate Minister for Recovery and Reconstruction of Southern Alberta.

“It will only be used when there is potential for high water flow that can cause the potential for flooding.” ...Click here to continue reading.

St. Albert Gazette - November 23rd

St. Albert should bring back rebates and beef up its targets when it comes to protecting water and the Sturgeon River, said residents at a recent forum.

About 20 city residents braved the cold Tuesday night for an open house on the city’s environmental master plan. The forum was one of two held this week to gather ideas on how to update the city’s five-year plan for the environment.

The plan, which was first passed in 2009, sets the city’s course when it comes to the environment, said city environmental co-ordinator Meghan Myers. ... Click here to continue reading.

Rocky View Weekly - November 25th

Alberta’s economy is booming and in order to protect the water supply for the residents and industries that rely on it, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) initiated a plan in 2011 to protect water quality as the province continues to grow.

Robert Simieritsch, planning and strategic engagement manager with ESRD, presented details of the process for developing the Draft Phosphorus Management Plan for the Bow River Basin to the Rocky View County (RVC) Policy and Priorities Committee on Nov. 19.

“We’re expecting with the population growth that our planning area is going to have close to three million people by 2040, and with that you’re going to see increased phosphorus loading from point and non-point sources,” said Simieritsch. ... Click here to continue reading.

Calgary Herald - November 25th

The former superintendent of Banff National Park says the Redford government has tunnel vision with some of its flood mitigation projects, particularly plans to construct a dry dam upstream of Calgary’s Elbow River.

Last week, the province announced it was starting consultations and environmental reviews on some of the projects recommended by an expert panel earlier this year — including the dry dam and a diversion channel around High River.

Although he didn’t have any issues with the channel as protection for High River, Kevin Van Tighem said the dam poses major concerns. ... Click here to continue reading.

Edmonton Journal - November 23rd

The coal slurry drifting along the Athabasca River swept through Fort McMurray Friday en route to Lake Athabasca where whatever is left of the murky waste water will likely settle in the coming days.

The plume of pollution that once measured 113 kilometres is becoming harder to track as the sediment suspension dissipates in the river and ice begins to cover its movement. It has travelled hundreds of kilometres downstream.

As a “secondary precautionary step,” the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo closed its water intakes from the river as the plume went by on Friday, said Darcy Dragonetti, acting director of environmental services. The municipality mainly draws its water from the Athabasca River and provides water to communities including Fort McMurray, the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Fort MacKay. ... Click here to continue reading.

Airdrie City View - November 21st

The devastating floods this past June impacted more than 100,000 people in 30 communities, and resulted in about $3.1 billion in damages. However, the swollen rivers not only effected people but also impacted Alberta’s wildlife.

“We see hundreds of animals every summer but this year we are well into the hundreds (at the centre),” said Alberta Institute for Conservation (AIWC) Assistant Director of Wildlife Barbara Kowalzik.

She said the total numbers will not be available until the new year but the centre probably helped between 100 to 200 more animals than last year. However, she cautions the institute often sees increases each year due to an increasing number of human and animal interactions and conflicts. ... Click here to continue reading.

 

CBC News - November 19th 

The Alberta government ordered the owner of a coal mine Tuesday to clean up 670 million litres of waste water that spilled into tributaries of the Athabasca River.

The directive was contained in an environmental protection order to Coal Valley Resources and Sherritt International.

The order comes almost three weeks after an earth berm broke at the Obed Mountain mine near Hinton, allowing coal waste to spill into two creeks that feed the Athabasca River. ... Click here to continue reading.

CTV Calgary - November 21st

Premier Alison Redford says her government is moving forward with plans to protect Albertans from future flooding and will start consultation work on a diversion channel around High River and a dry dam upstream from the city.

Redford made the announcement on Thursday in Calgary during a speech to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.

“I know families across Alberta want our government to do absolutely everything we can to make sure the damage caused by the flooding in June never happens again. The projects we are moving forward with will help us lower the risk of future flooding and keep southern Alberta residents safe,” said Redford. ... Click here to continue reading.

You can listen to Premier Redford answer reporter questions on soundcloud.

Western Wheel - November 21st

It will be months before Diamond Valley residents and merchants are free from the water restrictions they’ve been facing since June floods.

An underground pipeline now supplies Black Diamond with water from Turner Valley after the Town’s water treatment plant was washed away in the June 20 flood, however, Turner Valley isn’t able support both communities to full capacity.

Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck said the Town lost four of its five water wells in the flood and has Calgary’s MPE Engineering looking for another source. ... Click here to continue reading.

Edmonton Journal - November 19th

Legislation to create a new environmental monitoring agency passed third reading late Monday, paving the way for Alberta to have the organization up and running early in 2014.

The Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency will initially focus on monitoring the water, air, land and biodiversity in the oilsands region before expanding to a provincewide agency.

Crucial details of how the organization will run have yet to be worked out, including how often it will report data, how it will be funded and who will sit on its advisory board. ... Click here to continue reading.

Daily Herald Tribune - November 18th

Efforts to restore the Beaverlodge River have recently narrowed focus on breathing life back into the Redwillow River watershed, says the Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance.

According to the not-for-profit society, along with partner organizations, it has secured federal funding to begin restoration activities that will improve watershed health on the Redwillow River, of which the Beaverlodge River is a tributary.

The next step is to produce a restoration plan that will tap into the newly acquired resource most efficiently, said Adam Norris, watershed co-ordinator for Mighty Peace Watershed Alliance, which is leading the project. ... Click here to continue reading.

CBC News - November 16th

Some flood victims in High River are gearing up for a fight after learning the town is proposing to demolish their homes after months of renovations and reconstruction.

In the neighbourhood of Wallaceville, residents have spent the past four months working to move on after June's devastating floods.

Now, the Town of High River says it wants to bulldoze their homes because the costs of protecting the neighbourhood are just too high. ... Click here to continue reading.

Globe and Mail - November 18th

Canada has fallen behind in a global ranking on international development initiatives and ranks last when it comes to environmental protection.

The Washington-based Center for Global Development assesses 27 wealthy nations annually on their commitment to seven areas that impact the world’s poor. Canada came 13th in this year’s survey, which will be released Monday. Denmark led the list, followed by Sweden and Norway, with Japan and South Korea at the bottom.

The rankings are based on the center’s “commitment to development index”, or CDI, which tracks each country’s performance in foreign aid, openness to trade, policies that encourage investment, openness to migration, environmental protection, promoting security and supporting technology creation. The countries were chosen because they are all members of an OECD group involved in aid and development

...

Fort McMurray Today - November 14th

Several environmental groups and members of the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring program have expressed concerns about the program’s effectiveness, following the departure of Fort McKay’s First Nations and Métis communities.

In a letter dated Nov. 6, 2013 to Environment Canada and Alberta’s Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, members of environmental groups sitting on JOSM’s advisory committee argue the departure raises doubts about the program’s efficiency, and commitment from the federal and provincial government.

“This withdrawal significantly undermines the positive efforts already delivered under the JOSM program such as the establishment of the JOSM Information Portal and recent scientific reports on the status of the environment from JOSM scientists,” the letter states. ... Click here to continue reading.

Edson Leader - November 12th

It isn’t a new practice but the Town of Edson is selling wastewater from the sewage lagoons to Shell Canada and other companies for the purposes of hydraulic fracking.

Town public works officials initiated a pilot project in 2012 for the sale of wastewater from the lagoon. This gives oil companies an alternative to using fresh water or saline water. 

The selling of the wastewater could turn out to be quite lucrative for the town.
“In 2013 we project we’ll have 50,000 cubic metres of wastewater [to sell] for a projected revenue of $100,000,” town assistant chief administrative officer Brigitte Lemieux said. ... Click here to continue reading.

Calgary Herald - November 12th

A national wildlife group is critical of the draft land-use plan for southern Alberta, suggesting it falls far short of protecting vulnerable wildlife and fish populations in the headwaters.

The plan, which was released last month and is in the midst of public input sessions, sets aside some land for new wildland parks and conservation areas in the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. It was immediately criticized by conservation groups who suggested it doesn’t do enough to protect water and wildlife because it only conserves the mountain tops.

Based on a detailed assessment released Tuesday by the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada, the plan will hurt key species such as trout, grizzly bears and wolverines. ... Click here to continue reading.

Scientific American - November 10th

In its heyday, the Pastoruri glacier in central Peru, drew daily throngs of tourists packed into dozens of double-decker buses 16,000-feet (5,0000-meters) high into the Andes to ski, build snowmen and scale its dizzying peaks.

But in less than 20 years, including at least 10 of the hottest on record, Pastoruri has shrunk in half, and now spans just a third of a square mile (0.9 square km).

Now locals are making a bid to lure tourists back to Pastoruri before it is gone completely - likely in a decade.

Instead of marketing Pastoruri as the pristine Andean winter wonderland it once was - visible in outdated pictures that still hang in hotels and restaurants in nearby towns - the peak is being rebranded as a place to see climate change in action. ... Click here to continue reading.

Edmonton Journal - November 12th

Ottawa is earmarking $2.8 billion for Alberta flood assistance and is promising an undetermined but “substantial cash payment” will flow this budget year.

The amount — released as part of the Conservative government’s economic and fiscal update Tuesday — is shy of the $3.1 billion the province had been seeking.

In a conference call with reporters, Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney said that the total announced Tuesday could still go up or down depending on information provided by the Progressive Conservative government. ... Click here to continue reading.