At the AGM on June 8th, the OWC released their 2011-2012 Annual Report. It highlights the OWC's various accomplishments over the past year as well as their goals for the current year.

It highlights the OWC's various accomplishments over the past year as
well as their goals for the current year.


In this issue of Western Irrigration District's Dispatch:

  • The Bow River is Safe with the New Harvie Passage
  • Thanks to Irrigation
  • Seed Growers' Tour
  • Construction Update
  • Meetings and Workshops
  • E-mail Collection
  • Communication is Key

Click here to download the .pdf


The Globe and Mail - June 8th

A large amount of oil has spilled from an Alberta pipeline into a creek, with an early estimate of 1,000 to 3,000 barrels leaking into a tributary of the Red Deer River, one of the province's most important waterways.

Plains Midstream Canada said it was notified about the leak near Sundre, Alta. Thursday night. The leak is 160,000 to 475,000 litres in size, which was released into Jackson Creek. The company is dispatching aircraft to survey the damage, which local residents expect to be significant, with the Red Deer River currently flooding.

"I would expect that the vast majority of it will end up in the Red Deer River," said Bruce Beattie, reeve of Mountain View County. "It's a major concern." ... Click here to read more.


Edmonton Journal - June 8th

Calgary and communities west of the city are bracing for rising water levels and overland flooding in low-lying areas with forecasts of scattered showers over the weekend, and as much as 15 millimetres of rain coming from the mountains by Monday.

While city engineers kept a close watch on the Elbow River, which has risen by almost one metre in the last few days, town employees in Banff spent Thursday sandbagging and building temporary berms to prepare for the heavy rain which could hit them as soon as Sunday night.

Some Banff residents stated the river is now the highest they’ve ever seen it at this time of the year. ... Click here to read more.


Calgary Herald - June 8th

(This is an update to the mid-May story "Rainbow Lake spill pegged at 22,000 barrels")

A pipeline leak last month in northern Alberta was much smaller than first estimated and contained oil, not emulsion, as thought by both the producer and provincial regulators.

Approximately 5,000 barrels of sweet crude spilled onto the muskeg about 20 kilometres southeast of Rainbow Lake, down from initial estimates of 22,000 barrels, operator Pace Oil & Gas Ltd. said Thursday.

The company thought the leak, discovered May 19 during a routine flyover, contained saltwater and oil associated with natural gas production being piped to a waste injection well. ... Click here to read more.


Financial Post - June 8th

Nearly a year after agreeing to a joint federal-provincial plan to improve the scientific and environmental oversight of oilsands development, Canada’s main oil and gas industry lobby group says it is still sorting out details about how different companies would share the estimated $50 million price tag.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers told Postmedia News it hoped to have a final deal in place by the end of June to cover the cost of improving monitoring of the Alberta region’s air, water and wildlife.

“Industry has agreed to fund the costs of the enhanced oilsands regional environmental monitoring program,” said Travis Davies, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. “We have moved on to figuring out how to administratively do it.” ... Click here to read more.


Newswire - June 7th

With only two weeks to the official start of summer, Canadians are looking forward to vacations, weekends at the cottage and spending time in or on the water swimming, sailing or at the beach.

For many, their fondest outdoor experiences involve water - from swimming (33 per cent) and going to the beach (33 per cent), to fishing (28 per cent) and canoeing (11 per cent). Winter sports that depend on water also factored in, with skating and skiing (14 and 13 per cent) being mentioned often, according to the 2012 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes study, which measures Canadians' perceptions about water protection and conservation.

The poll examined the country's passion for recreation around some of our 243,000 kilometres of shoreline and thousands of lakes and rivers and found that many Canadians consider water to be the country's most valuable natural resource (49 per cent).


Cochrane Times - June 7th

An environmental group that’s concerned with the watershed health in the Horse Creek area is hosting a meeting on June 12 at 7 p.m. at Weedon Hall.

The Little Creeks and Fescue Appreciation Society (LCARF) was formed in part to monitor water quality and examine fish species in Horse Creek.

Now with funding from the Land Stewardship Centre and ALTA Gas, LCARF founder Sarah Leete said the group has been able to re-start water quality monitoring.

One of the things she’s concerned about is the fact water is being pumped out of Cochrane Lake and diverted to the Bow River via the Horse Creek tributary. ... Click here to read more.


CBC News - June 7th

The insurance industry is suggesting homeowners look at using rain barrels as a way to protect basements during a heavy downpour of rain.

A study in Wingham, Ont., determined collecting rain water in barrels can reduce the flow to the storm sewer collection system by 70 per cent.

Water in basements is often attributed to a storm sewer that is overwhelmed by an intense downpour. ... Click here to read more.


Government of Canada News Centre - June 5th

Environment Canada scientists have published a new study showing that mercury concentrations in fish are not increasing over time. The study,Investigations of Mercury Concentrations in Walleye and Other Fish in the Athabasca River Ecosystem with Increasing Oil Sands Developments (Mercury in Fish), by Marlene S. Evans and André Talbot, will be published in the next issue of the Journal of Environmental Monitoring.

“This is an example of the type of work our scientists are undertaking to support our reliable, robust, and world class monitoring program for the oil sands,” said Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent. “This research will help build a comprehensive, scientifically grounded understanding of baseline environmental conditions in the oil sands region in order to properly assess changes over time.” ... Click here to read more.


Lethbridge Herald - June 5th

Jeff DePratu wasn't positive he could taste the difference. "I'm not sure whether I got the thing right or not," he said. DePratu tried a cup of tap water and then a cup of bottled water and was asked to determine which was which. After it was revealed that he guessed correctly, he said he had a hunch.

"That one tasted a little bit more pure," he said, pointing to the tap water. "But I don't really have any preference.

"I really don't see the difference." The challenge was part of the province of Alberta's "Environment Week" campaign. "We're promoting tap water versus bottled water," said Andrea Vaxvick, with the Oldman Watershed Council. ... Click here to read more.


Calgary Herald - June 5th

Natives downstream from the oilsands in northern Alberta say they have caught more deformed fish in Lake Athabasca and will be sending them away for testing.

Pictures of two fish, a sucker and a northern pike, were distributed by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation on Friday. The band has long called for better protection of the region's water.

Chief Allan Adam said he is concerned that changes to the Federal Fisheries Act will favour industrial development over the protection of fish. ... Click here to read more.


Leader-Post - June 5th

The City of Regina’s executive committee will consider a potentially lucrative deal worth $228 million on Wednesday involving the sale of recycled water to a nearby potash mine.

According to a report from city administration, negotiations between the City of Regina and Western Potash Corp., a junior mining company from B.C., began on July 4 on a 45-year deal worth $228 million.

If Wednesday’s committee approves the recommendation, the matter would be sent to city council on June 26 for final approval. A separate report is expected to be presented to city council in July outlining options on how the revenue could be allocated. ... Click here to read more.


June 5th

Yesterday over 500 environmental groups blacked out their websites in protest of the Federal Conservative omnibus bill C-38 which contains environmental reform in light of the proposed budget. Due to the political divisiveness of Black Out Speak Out and bill C-38 instead of a single article we’ve selected five articles/websites that should capture the breadth of the activities associated with the protest.


Calgary Herald - June 1st

The Alberta government acknowledges it likely missed its 2010 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal and is now revamping the province’s overall climate-change strategy to meet future targets. Alberta Environment said Tuesday the province didn’t meet its goal of reducing emissions by 20 megatonnes below business-as-usual projections in 2010, although final audited numbers have yet to come in. The PC government has also been criticized for not being on track to meet its own target for 2020, which calls for a further emissions reduction. Alberta is supposed to start cutting absolute emissions that year, rather than just a reduction per unit of economic production. ... Click here to read more. 

Edmonton Journal - June 1st

HomeServe USA Corp., an independent administrator of emergency repair service plans, has partnered with Epcor Utilities to offer exterior water and sewer line coverage to homeowners in Alberta.

The firm will send information on its service plans in the mail soon.

It says there are more than 100,000 water service line breaks each year across the country, and the repair costs, which are not normally covered under homeowner insurance policies, are usually about $3,000 to $6,000. Water service problems between the street and the home are the responsibility of the homeowner. ... Click here to read more.


Embassy Mag - May 30th

After years of opposition, the Harper government now says that Canada will recognize the human right to water.

As United Nations member states gather in New York for a last-minute round of talks, Environment Minister Peter Kent told Embassy on May 29 that Canada is "now prepared to move forward to explicitly recognize the human right to safe drinking water."

His comments come on the heels of an accusation by NGOs that the government has been slowing talks over a document to be released at an upcoming UN conference on sustainable development.

At issue was Canada's prior opposition to the document's statement asserting that water is a human right, according to Anil Naidoo, a representative for the Council of Canadians and project organizer for the Blue Planet Project, which advocates for the right to water. Mr. Naidoo has attended rounds of talks on the upcoming


Calgary Herald - May 30th

(Click here to read the update to this story "Oil spill smaller than feared")

Crews are working to clean up an estimated 22,000 barrels of water and oil that spilled onto muskeg when a waste disposal line sprung a leak in northwestern Alberta.

Workers have dug out a trench around the 4.5hectare site near Rainbow Lake and about 11 per cent of the emulsion, a 50/50 mix of oil and water, has been recovered, operator Pace Oil and Gas said Friday.

"The cleanup operation is well underway," said Todd Brown, the company's chief operating officer.

Brown said oil-skimming equipment was on site and containment booms would be installed by late Friday. A local wildlife management firm was also on site ensuring animals did not enter the affected area, he said. ...Click here to read more.


Edmonton Sun - May 30th

A local advocacy group is warning Albertans to take action on water conservation before a crisis hits.

Water Matters released Maintaining Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems by Protecting Instream Flow Needs, its first in a series of three reports, Tuesday. The organization is calling for a science-based approach to improving river and watershed management.

Dr. Bill Donahue, the Water Matters director of policy and science, said climate change coupled with insufficient river management and overuse by industry are leading to declining water availability in Alberta.

“Oilsands development, much like agriculture and other areas of energy and much of what we do, is entirely dependent on a long-term, stable water supply,” he said. ... Click here to read more.


University of Alberta - May 30th

As Alberta faces increasing pressure to make the oil industry more sustainable, one U of A researcher may have found a natural solution to a problem that has been plaguing oil companies for years.

Tariq Siddique, an assistant professor in the Department of Renewable Resources and principal investigator with a U of A oilsands densification group led by biological sciences researcher Julia Foght, says he and his team are finding that microbes could be used to increase the amount of water recovered from tailings ponds.

When oilsands are processed, tailings are the materials left over. They include water, clay particles, unrecovered bitumen, and residual solvents that are used during the process of refining oil. This leftover material is dumped into tailings ponds where it can take three to five years for the water to separate from the clay particles. Even


Calgary Herald - May 24th

(Click here to read the update to this story "Oil spill smaller than feared")

Provincial regulators are reporting the weekend discovery of a “substantial” leak of oil and water from a feeder pipeline in a remote northwest corner of Alberta.

Workers conducting clean up operations on site have yet to determine the volume of liquid spilled in boggy muskeg 20 kilometres southeast of Rainbow Lake, but well operator Pace Oil and Gas said it covered about half a kilometre in length.

The Energy Resources Conservation Board was told of the spill on Saturday, and is investigating how long the pipe, flowing to a disposal well, had been leaking brackish water and oil.

“We are working with the company to determine the scope of the incident,” said spokesman Darin Barter. “It is big enough to be a significant spill.” ... Click here to read more.


Edmonton Journal - May 24th

The goldfish and trout swimming in dozens of tanks at the University of Alberta's aquatic research centre are the lab mice for water systems, biosentinels that are helping us understand the effects of chemicals — from pesticides to pharmaceuticals — found in waste water destined to be reused.

And a yearlong research project now underway, using Epcor Utilities' ultra-membrane-treated waste water which is currently sent to the Suncor Energy refinery, could expand the use of so-called "grey" water.

Reuse of waste water will become more common as the world runs short of water; it is already used in places such as California and Singapore.

Edmonton has Canada's only municipal treated waste water project. It sends 15 million litres a day from the Gold Bar Wastewater Treatment Plant's outflow to the nearby refinery for use in production. That could expand to about 200


Calgary Sun - May 22nd

The city is looking to buy nearly 100,000 bottles of water to quench employees’ thirst, but at least one alderman thinks more Earth-friendly alternatives should be explored instead.

A request for proposas issued by the city is looking for a supplier of bottled water, calling for 84,000 small bottles (500ml) per year — which would be used mostly by the Calgary Fire Department and the Roads and Transit departments — and 12,000 large bottles (18.9L) of reverse osmosis, spring and distilled water along with cooler stands and cups.

The large bottles and coolers will be used at roughly 70 locations around the city.

While it’s important to keep employees from becoming parched, at least one alderman thinks it can be done with less environmental impact. ... Click here to read more.


Edmonton Journal - May 15th

Desertification, already present in southern Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta, is expected by some experts to expand to cover most of the Prairies by 2050.

If this happens in any significant way, the economic loss and human relocation will be enormous.

Water will be scarce. Everyone living in the Prairies will be affected, and there will be national and international repercussions. ... Click here to read more.


Western Wheel - May 14th

A proposed water pipeline from Calgary could be operated by a city corporation – a scenario that’s raising concerns among some town councillors.

The city is creating a utility company that will provide water services outside Calgary’s borders. It will be separate from the utility that provides water to residents within the city and would maintain and operate the pipelines and delivery system for regions like Airdrie, that already receive water from Calgary.

City of Calgary council voted for a system that would be for-profit, similarly to their electricity provider, Enmax. ... Click here to read more.